By Julie Wales, Family & Special Needs Counsellor 
Supporting a child's counselling is essential for their emotional well-being and growth. I have many parents contact me to help their child or young person with anxiety, low mood, school issues, friendships, family life…and more. The first thing I ask is “do they want to have counselling?” I need to know if they are motivated to change things and willing to engage with me. They need to be ready, able and willing. If they are happy to chat with me, then that’s great. 
Here are some ways parents can effectively support their child's counselling process: 

1. Open Communication 

Create a safe and open space for your child to discuss their feelings and experiences. Encourage them to share their thoughts about counselling without judgment. 

2. Respect Privacy 

While it's important to have open communication, also respect your child's privacy. Don't press for details they're not comfortable sharing. 

3. Normalise Counselling 

Let your child know that seeking help through counselling is a sign of strength, not weakness. Normalize the idea that everyone faces challenges and sometimes needs extra support. 

4. Choose a Skilled Counsellor 

Research and select a qualified and experienced counsellor who specializes in working with children. A good fit between the counsellor and the child can significantly enhance the counselling experience. 

5. Attend Sessions 

If the counsellor allows and your child want you to: attend the first session with your child. This can show your support and help you better understand their progress and challenges. 

6. Set realistic expectations 

Understand that counselling is a process that takes time. Don't expect immediate results but look for gradual positive changes over time. 

7. Be Patient 

Be patient with your child's emotional journey. Don't rush them to feel better or "move on" quickly. 

8. Practice Active Listening 

When your child talks about their counselling experiences or emotions, listen actively. This shows that you're engaged and caring. 

9. Implement Counsellor's Recommendations 

If the counsellor suggests certain activities or techniques to work on at home, try to integrate these into your child's routine. 

10. Consistency 

Regularly attending counselling sessions is crucial. Make sure your child attends appointments as scheduled unless there's a valid reason not to. 

11. Encourage Coping Skills 

Help your child practice the coping skills they're learning in counselling. Encourage them to use these techniques in daily life when they face challenges. 

12. Be A Role Model 

Demonstrate healthy emotional expression and coping mechanisms in your own life. Children often learn by observing their parents' behaviour. 

13. Avoid Blame or Judgement 

Focus on problem-solving and growth rather than placing blame for issues that led to counselling. 

14. Celebrate Progress 

Acknowledge and celebrate your child's progress, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement can boost their confidence and motivation. 

15. Be Available 

Let your child know that you're there for them if they want to talk about their sessions or anything else. Your emotional availability is invaluable. 

16. Avoid Interference 

While you want to be involved, avoid taking over the counselling process. Let your child and the counsellor develop their own rapport and solutions. 
Remember, every child is unique, so your approach should be tailored to their personality and needs. The goal is to create a supportive environment where your child feels comfortable exploring their emotions and growth with the help of counselling. 
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