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Working with children and teens: Information for parents

As they grow up, children have to deal with change, loss, bullying, violence, criticism, low self-esteem, and changing body image as they move through rapid growth periods over short periods of time. There are numerous challenges to cope with in daily life, such as making friends, moving to a new school, challenging academic work, sports activities, peer pressure, as well as the pressures of social media, and parental expectations.

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Teenagers as a group have special needs that are different from adults. I teach coping skills, emotional management, practical skills, and strategies for navigating today's tricky world. 

Why children and teens experience problems

Children and teens show their reaction to stress, change, and trauma in different ways. They might compare themselves to others and develop low self-esteem. There might be problems at school, with sleep, or perfectionism and being self-critical or angry. Some children have headaches or develop stomach problems or eating issues. One of the doctors who refers children to me said that up to half of the patients they assess at the hospital have no discernible physical illness. Unexpressed emotions may cause physical symptoms.


Teenagers might be sullen and uncommunicative and turn to potentially addictive coping mechanisms.


Your child might have already gone through rounds of appointments that include physical tests and screenings, psychological assessments, and the prescription of medications. Unfortunately with medical issues, this type of therapy is not often considered until other avenues have been exhausted - along with both parents and children!


If the child or teenager is expressing concern about their own behaviour or ability to manage complex situations and is looking for help to address these concerns, then Human Givens therapy can be very beneficial. Guided imagery and relaxation offer a chance to learn more appropriate coping skills to use in daily life.

What to expect in a session

At the first session, I will first listen to your concerns and those of your child in order to gain a complete picture of the problem and its context.


With younger children, it is often not necessary to explain in detail to your child that they are going for "therapy." It may simply be explained that they will be having a relaxed and quiet time in which they will listen to stories and use their imagination to solve their problems. They will also learn short, practical techniques that they can practice at home and use in daily life.


A parent’s stress or anxiety about a particular behaviour can often make change more difficult for the child. During the session, for children 12 and under, the parent or guardian is welcome to be present if the child wants the parent to be there. This also allows the parent to experience the benefits of guided imagery and relaxation. With teens, after the initial information gathering in the first session, it is recommended that the parent leaves the room, unless the teen is particularly anxious about being separated from the parent.

How do you do therapy with young people?

Just like with adults, I will look for unmet emotional needs and missing coping skills. I will introduce positive suggestions often presented in the form of a story or a metaphor. Children respond very well to stories, and most children have vivid imaginations. I will use this ability, so the child can mentally rehearse making changes, through visualization. If your child is able to sit still, listen, and follow directions, for a period of time e.g. 15 minutes, then they will be able to take advantage of guided imagery. Very young children often can't do this, but you know your child best.

Young people have an openness to new ideas that makes them especially good candidates for this type of therapy. They become relaxed and focused quite easily, and are happy to take on ideas that will help them to deal with any problems they are facing and make changes.

Will my child have to do homework or practise at home?

I will provide mp3 recordings for your child to listen to regularly at home. This homework is usually about 10 minutes per day for younger children and 15-20 minutes for teens.  The practice your child does at home will make all the difference as regular repetition helps to reinforce what the child has done in a session with me. 

The list below gives some idea of issues that I have worked on with children and adolescents:

  • Allergies

  • Anger

  • Anxiety & repetitive/intrusive thoughts

  • Asthma

  • Athletic ability or performance

  • Bedwetting (Enuresis)

  • Chronic illness, disability, or neurodiversity

  • Concentration and memory

  • Confidence or self-esteem

  • Death or loss of a beloved pet

  • Divorce

  • Domestic violence or abuse

  • Eating issues

  • Fear of medical/dental procedures

  • Fears and phobias

  • Getting along with siblings

  • Grief and loss

  • Headaches

  • IBS (functional stomach/bowel issues and nausea)

  • Motivation

  • Nail biting, nervous habits, behaviours or tics

  • Negative self-talk

  • Pain

  • POTS

  • School problems e.g. bullying, exam nerves

  • Shyness or social anxiety

  • Sleep problems or nightmares

  • Stealing

  • Stuttering

  • Stress

  • Time management/procrastination

  • Thumb-sucking

  • Trouble making or keeping friends

  • Weight management

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