Learn to Help Children Better
In order to counsel children effectively a therapist needs to understand the types of problems that can affect children and how they might have evolved. Like disorders of adulthood, childhood disorders can, and usually do, have more than one cause. Also, like adults, these causes may be of genetic or environmental origin. With children though, we must also consider developmental causes since childhood is a time when children are continually developing: intellectually, socially, emotionally and, of course, physically.
Study this course to enhance your repertoire of counselling skills. Build yourself a reputation as a child counsellor by developing an understanding of childhood problems and how to relate to children.
Nine lessons as follows:
1. Introduction to Types & Causes of Childhood Problems
2. Assessment of Childhood Problems (including ethical/legal considerations)
3. Counselling for Internalising Problems & Disorders I: Anxiety
4. Counselling for Internalising Problems & Disorders II: Depression
5. Counselling for Externalising Problems & Disorders III: Eating Disorders
6. Counselling for Externalising Problems & Disorders IV: Conduct Disorders
7. Counselling for Other Problems & Disorders
8. Other Counselling Approaches
9. Problem based learning
Some Children are More Resilient
A counselor must recognise that each child has their own unique strengths and weaknesses; and should be dealt with accordingly.
It should be observed that not all children in similar situations will succumb to mental health disorders or problems. It has been found that children living in the same geographic area who attend the same school, and who have the same ethnicity and socio-economic status, can present with fewer problems and symptoms or less severe problems. Even children within the same family can be affected differently. These differences are often referred to in terms of resilience and vulnerability, where resilience is our capacity to cope with, overcome, and even learn from adversity. But what makes one child more resilient than another?
Researchers have identified several important factors which underlie resilience. Grotberg (1999a) suggested that there are five basic building blocks of resilience: trust, autonomy, initiative, industry and identity. These correspond to the first five stages of Erikson's (1985) theory of psychosocial development. These building blocks help children to cope with and respond successfully to adversity.
In order to help children deal with adversity, Grotberg (2003) divided these resilience factors into three main categories: inner strength, external support, and interpersonal problem-solving skills. She created child-friendly labels for each category which were denoted as 'I have', 'I am' and 'I can' resilience factors. These form a paradigm of resilience for dealing with life's problems.
I HAVE (external supports) - these are factors that are outside the child.
- People in my family I can trust and who love me
- People outside my family I can trust
- Limits to my behaviour
- People who encourage me to be independent
- Good role models
- Access to health, education and other services
- A stable family and community
I AM (inner strength) - these are the child's feelings and beliefs about themselves.
- A person most people like
- Generally a good person
- An achiever who plans for the future
- A person who respects myself and others
- Caring toward others
- Responsible for my own behaviour
- A confident, optimistic, hopeful person
I CAN (interpersonal problem-solving skills) - these are the tools and skills that children can use to successfully interact with other children.
- Generate new ideas or ways to do things
- Work hard on a task until it is finished
- See humour in life and use it to reduce tension
- Express my thoughts and feelings to others
- Solve problems in different ways
- Manage my behaviour
- Ask for help when needed
The promotion of these resilience factors in children can be an important means of combating adversity. Usually, resilience is promoted through the family environment. That is, resilience evolves in families where children are nurtured and loved with support, acceptance and warmth. Where resilience is lacking, through teaching and instruction children can learn to respond to adversity with resilience.
Why This Course Could Help You
This course is designed to give counsellors and other health care workers an insight into mental health problems faced by children. It also examines possible causes of those problems, difficulties faced when interviewing children, and legal issues and the role of parents in treatment. Internalising and externalising disorders are reviewed and possible treatment options presented.
It is an insightful course for anyone working with children in a professional capacity, but especially counsellors and psychologists as well as nurses, social workers, youth workers and other health professionals. It could also be of value to others in related fields.