Child psychotherapy

I was asked the other day what model do I use when I work with children and I could not answer the question. I originally trained for two years in a psychoanalytic approach to child psychotherapy but that was a long time ago and I have changed my approach considerably since that time.

Eventually in answer to the question I simply made a list of the things I would look for and do at least in the early stages of working with a child.

Usually via drawing I establish the emotional status of the child. I use the catharsis approach to feelings - identify the feeling, express the feeling and drop the feeling.

baby & bear

Again usually via drawing I establish the family structure as the child sees it. I ask the child to draw their family and then analyse aspects of the drawing to get an understanding of the child’s perception of the what they see as their family.

Establish the life script decisions the child has made:
Don’t exist
Don’t be you (the sex you are)
Don’t be a child
Don’t grow up
Don’t make it (succeed)
Don’t be close
Don’t be important
Don’t belong
Don’t be well (sane)
Don’t think
Don’t feel
Don’t get your needs met
Don’t be separate

Letting go

Establish the inborn temperament of the child
Rhythmicity - Regular or irregular
Approach/withdrawal - Positive or negative
Adaptability - Adaptive or non-adaptive
Intensity of reaction - Mild or intense
Quality of mood - Positive or negative
Activity level - Low or high

Attachment style between mother and child - it requires a couple of sessions with mother and child together to ascertain the attachment quality

Parenting strategies - interviews with the mother and father to discuss various parenting strategies to deal with difficult circumstances

Woman looking

Establish overall family structure - emeshed vs distancing family structure