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Psychotherapy for Children (ages 8+)

Anxiety, stress, anger, and other emotional and behavioural challenges are on the rise for everyone. This includes adults of all ages and children and families too. Seemingly outwardly confident children can experience a host of worries, anxieties, and fears interfering with their ability to do the same things as their friends or generally live normally. Otherwise calm and wonderful kids can go haywire or in a rage when triggered by a comment from a sibling. Mental health challenges are not the exclusive domain of adults. In fact, children can experience many of the same difficulties that can be experienced by adults including:

Children can also experience heightened difficulties in specific areas including:

  • School stress

  • Bullying

  • Frequent fighting

  • Behavioural issues

  • Self-regulation

  • Impulse control

  • Low self-esteem 

  • Difficulties from specific circumstances including divorce, loss, moving to a new school, and other major life transitions

While childhood can be an idyllic time in many respects, children are not immune from the difficulties, pain, and hardships that are part of the experience of living - as much as we would like them to be. Correspondingly, there has been an increased need for psychotherapy services that are appropriate for working with children. Psychotherapy for children is not simply providing counselling to little adults. Kids - as you may have noticed! - operate at an entirely different developmental level than adults do. Counselling must be provided by clinicians skilled in relating to children, possessing essential attributes such as warmth, humor, and dynamism, and who understand the unique developmental needs and contexts of the child they are working with. Counselling approaches should be similarly tailored to work with children, be accessible and understandable for kids, and whenever possible and appropriate include parent and/or family feedback, support, and engagement. 

Some Common Thoughts That Can Get In Your Way!

It is normal to experience doubt and self-critical thoughts when considering starting counselling for yourself; the same applies when sending your child to a therapist. Some parents may experience critical thoughts, thinking that they have failed their child in some way. While self-blame is a common response to try and control situations, it is helpful to consider that as parents and caregivers we only play a limited role in the trajectory of our child’s development and life. Life experiences, peer interactions, world challenges, trauma history, biological and temperamental factors, and lack of access to coping resources are some of the many contributions to present-day challenges, many of which cannot be solely influenced by one’s parenting.

What's Wrong with My Child?

      Others may worry that their child is ‘damaged’ or ‘flawed’ if they have to go see a therapist or worry about the social ramifications of their child being in therapy. To some extent, these thoughts can be a byproduct of growing up in a time when psychotherapy was not particularly mainstream and when stigma and negative associations were common with the process. Fortunately, we live in a time where help-seeking is now the norm. Increasingly more people are reaching out for help and in the process learning that psychotherapy is perhaps different than they initially imagined. In psychotherapy - especially within cognitive-behavioral approaches - sessions are logical, practical, and goal-focused. This means that often your child will only need a limited number of sessions. Psychotherapy can be a brief time-limited process, where you and your child can pick up some essential skills and be on your way (as opposed to the requirement of ‘being in therapy’ for life).

I Know What to Do, They're Just Not Listening!

      In some situations, parents may know what needs to be done and may have even suggested helpful strategies to their children before. In these cases, therapy may not be so much about providing new knowledge or strategies, but the third-party nature of the therapist can often help increase children’s receptivity to such useful ideas, skills, or resolutions (cue your internal eye-roll as your child comes home from therapy telling you about this brilliant new strategy that they picked up from their therapist that you only told them about 100 times!).

Ask Away and Try Things Out

Asking questions during an initial consultation and getting started with therapy tends to ease these and other common concerns that may precede your reaching out for child psychotherapy. 

How we can help

Whether you are trying to help your child deal with anxiety, strong emotions, school problems, navigate difficult life circumstances, or seeking help for challenging behavioural problems, counselling can help. Our team includes skilled, warm, and down-to-earth therapists with years of experience in working with children and their families. We value a pragmatic, practical, skills-focused approach in our work with kids and a collaborative partnership with caregivers and families (i.e. you!). 

Our approach

  • Making psychotherapy fun, engaging, and developmentally appropriate

  • Working collaboratively with parents and caregivers

  • Practical and skills-focused

  • Goal-oriented

  • Helping kids set their own therapy goals and take responsibility for the process as appropriate

  • ADHD-Informed (when relevant - not all kids have ADHD! But if yours do, we can help.)

Our therapists may use:

To book a consult call with one of our child therapists, reach out below. We’d be happy to help you and your child get things under control and move in a better direction. We offer sessions for children in-person in Toronto and remotely anywhere in Canada.