Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy services

Child and adolescent psychotherapists treat a range of behavioural and emotional problems not easily addressed by other modes of treatment. Child Psychotherapists carefully observe a child or young person and respond to what they might be communicating through their behaviour and play. Child Psychotherapists see a child or young person individually or with parents or other family members. The focus is on the gradual bringing to awareness of often complex internal experiences which can be difficult to know about and hard to put into words.

Parent Psychotherapy is offered often in parallel with individual psychotherapy of the child or young person and focuses on helping the parent make sense of the child’s behaviour, as well as understanding how the parents’ own difficulties may influence their ability to understand and respond to their child’s distress.

What happens in a typical session with a child?

During an individual session, young children do not usually talk directly about difficult things but will communicate through play using the toys provided. Older children may also play or draw whilst teenagers are more likely to talk about their feelings. However, many young people struggle to put into words their internal experiences which are often entangled, confused, painful and overwhelming. Containment of difficult thoughts and feelings is achieved through the slow movement towards making sense of their internal experiences in the context of the therapeutic relationship. Infants and parents are seen together to think about patterns of interaction.

To a trained eye, play is a powerful form of communication which may express how a child feels and the difficulties he or she may be experiencing. The relationship between the child and the therapist is central to the treatment.

How long does treatment last?

Interventions with children and/or parents may be short- or long-term, from as few as two to six sessions to regular appointments over several years. Research has demonstrated the existence of a ‘sleeper effect’, with adults who had been treated as children or young people still feeling its impact many years later.

What range of difficulties are treated?

Child and adolescent psychotherapists see children with a wide range of difficulties, including problems with peer relationships, underachievement at school, aggressive outbursts or tantrums, insecurity and lack of confidence, or more serious mental health conditions including self-harm, eating disorders, oppositional behaviour, depression, anxiety, learning difficulties and disabilities. They also treat children who are suffering the effects of neglect and abuse.

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