Children and young people present very particular needs
Children and young people often need skilled and careful help to negotiate difficult times. Problems can often feel particularly insurmountable, or difficult to express, and there can be all sorts of fears about the consequences of trying to speak honestly about worries, or trying to explain what’s happening to them, or going on for them.
There can be significant peer pressure, or pressure at school, trouble with friends, a breakdown in communication in the family, or a crisis or event that a child or young person feels ill-equipped to deal with.
Bullying, divorce or separation, bereavement, a sense of not fitting in or feeling different, problems between siblings, puberty, relationship difficulties can all cause significant distress and anxiety.
Sometimes, problems are more deep-seated and longer lasting. There may have been early trauma, illness or bereavement, separation, learning difficulties, or separation anxiety.
For a child or young person trying to find out where they fit in the world, or trying to decide who to be or how to be, there can be depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, withdrawal from others, loneliness, and issues with anger.
Young people can develop self-harming behaviour, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, disordered eating, or issues with anger.
Issues of image and identity can contribute to disordered eating, social anxiety, risk-taking and aggression.
Therapy with young people generally needs a lightness of touch, and to feel purposeful, proactive and fun.
I have significant experience in working with children (normally 8 years and over) and young people. Often, this will involve one or both parents, depending upon the specific issues involved, but sometimes it is more appropriate to meet separately.
Occasionally, it can be helpful to work flexibly and alternate sessions between parents and the child/young person before bringing everyone together, or to work with the parent for a while in order to support the parent in developing skills, strategies and techniques which can hopefully assist the child or young person to manage a situation or issue in a better or more helpful way.
Generally, flexibility brings the fastest and most transformative results. Our intention is always to offer whatever support and help seems most beneficial in order to enable everyone involved to move forward positively.
“Will’s always been an incredibly confident and outgoing boy. We’ve never had any worries about him. He has a large group of friends, does well at school, and is captain of the football team. So it was upsetting and worrying when he suddenly became really anxious and broke down one weekend saying he couldn’t face going to school in 6 weeks’ time, when he would have to give a report in Assembly in front of his entire year about the past football season. He couldn’t sleep, was anxious and tearful, and was adamant he couldn’t do it. It got worse and worse. We were getting temper tantrums and refusal to co-operate with even the simplest tasks. It was clear that Henry was becoming increasingly anxious and stressed. We were at the end of our tether.
A good friend told me that her son had been to see Janny over some friendship troubles, and that she had helped him build his confidence and see things differently. She said things had turned around in 4 sessions.
I put the idea to Henry, and he was reluctant and anxious about talking to a stranger. But eventually he agreed to give it a go. He insisted I go with him, and Janny was fine with that, saying we could play it by ear.
Well, I can’t tell you. Within a few minutes, Henry had relaxed and was laughing. Janny is very relaxed, puts things simply and offers lots of ideas and different options. It was helpful for me to be there, because we could work on the homework together and use the techniques within the whole family.
Janny helped Henry to see the ‘stories’ he was telling himself about the situations he was dreading, and helped him see that he could use his imagination in a better way to see positive outcomes instead of imagining everything going wrong. She even got him to role play scenarios with her, and it was wonderful to watch his confidence and self-esteem grow.
Janny very gently got under the surface of things, and managed to get to the source of his anxiety, which was a major incident which had left him embarrassed and ashamed in class, where he had felt that people were laughing at him. Once we turned that around, saw that he had actually survived and learnt lots in the process, Henry was off! The techniques were so straightforward and explained in such an entertaining way that we often laughed about what had happened in sessions when we got home.
I’m so very glad I took advice and persuaded Henry to go along to get help. It actually helped us all, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Janny to others.”
“I’d been pretending for a long time. My family sort of knew things were wrong, but my parents had divorced several years ago, both were in new relationships, and it was hard to say that I was so unhappy because they’d been through a lot and I didn’t want to make everyone worried.
So I used to keep it all in, how I was struggling. I was numb most of the time. But sometimes I would make myself sick, and sometimes I would cut myself. Not badly, so you’d see. Just a little, mainly on my thighs where no one would see. The pain helped me somehow.
Then one day my teacher noticed when I was getting changed for Dance, and spoke to my Mum. I’d dreaded that, because I knew my Mum would worry herself sick. And at first I insisted everything was okay, that it had just been a bit of an experiment and that I’d stopped now.
But then my brother heard me being sick in the bathroom one morning and had it out with me. He told that he’d seen someone for intrusive thoughts and what he’d thought was OCD, and that they’d really helped him understand what was going on, and that he was okay now. My brother got a job last year, and offered to pay for some sessions for me. He asked around and someone who knew Janny recommended her.
It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done but, like Janny kept telling me, it was the bravest. Janny helped me talk about all the things I’d been bottling up. I did a lot of crying, and got really angry several times, and we talked lots about how guilty I felt and how sad, and all the different ways that things had affected me.
Janny also helped me find ways – when I was ready – to talk to my parents and let them in instead of trying to protect them all the time. That was such a relief and really turned things around.
I don’t cut anymore, and I don’t make myself sick. I would say I’m getting better, and I can look ahead now and believe that one day soon I’ll be okay. Talking has helped loads, and I’m so glad my brother caught me out that morning. “