A child cannot addres him or herself to a therapist on his own accord. He has to pass through the parents. Sometimes, it happens that the child asks the parents directly to go see a therapist, to 'talk to someone.' Typically however it is the parents who worry about the child's nervousness, agitation, or apathie, about the symptoms he is presenting.
The parents often have an idea of what is not going well for their child. Often the parents think that the problems are related to events that they think might have been traumatic for the child. This first dialogue with the parents is very important for me as a therapist and gives me a lot of information that will be helpful in starting to work with the child. That initial dialogue will also help the child to determine whether it can trust the terapist. As he feels the parents have trust, he might start feeling comfortable entrusting some of his thoughts and feelings to this person.
In my work with the child it is important to not encapsulate the child in a pre-established schema. This might be a bit different from an approach which is very widespread where the child is compared to the yard stick of the ‘normal child.’ But where is this normal child? That child is nowhere to be found as the norm is just an average of a big group of individual kids, each with their own specificities and particularities. Instead of letting myself be guided by a norm, I take my starting point in what the child brings to the session, what he says, what bothers him. It is important for me to listen to the child’s own suffering, and to listen to his truth that emerges in there. It is important to see what reality is intolerable for the child, and to help him treat this in the treatment through conversations, play, and art: different means the child can use to ‘treat’ that what is problematic for him or her.
Contact An Bulkens at (530) 321-2970