Wanaka Counselling & Family Therapy
We provide a variety of counselling and therapy services for individuals, children, adolescents, couples, families and parents from the Central Lakes Therapy Centre based in Wanaka.
We provide counselling or therapy for individuals, children, adolescents, couples, families and parents around issues such as:
- family issues
- post natal
- depression and mental health issues
- sexual abuse
- domestic violence
- chronic illness
- ACC – sexual assault treatment provider
- Family Therapy – trained in working with whole families for a wide range of child and family issues
- Child & Adolescent Mental Health – assessments and interventions
- Family Violence – extensive training and experience in violence and abuse work
- Youth Suicide Prevention
- One-off support and advice for parenting
- Parenting support and education groups
- Clinical supervision for individual practitioners and groups
- Training and workshops on request
- Online and phone sessions are available on request
What is Therapy?
Many children and teens have problems that affect how they feel, act, or learn. Therapy is a type of treatment for these problems. It is a way to get help for your child.
In therapy, kids talk and learn how to work out their problems. Going to therapy helps them cope better, communicate better, and do better.
What Problems Do Therapists Help With?
Therapists are trained to help with all kinds of problems. For example:
Therapists help kids and teens going through tough times like:
- family problems
- school problems
- health problems
Why Do Kids and Teens Need Therapy?
Kids and teens need therapy when they have problems they can’t cope with alone. Or they need help when problems affect how well they do, feel, or act. If things don’t get better on their own, kids may need therapy so things can improve. Sometimes, entire families need support while trying to communicate, learn, and create boundaries.
How Does Therapy Work?
In therapy, kids learn by doing. With younger kids, this means working with the whole family, drawing, playing, and talking. For older kids and teens, therapists share activities and ideas that focus on learning the skills they need. They talk through feelings and solve problems.
Therapists give praise and support as kids learn. They help kids believe in themselves and find their strengths. Therapy builds helpful thinking patterns and healthy behavioral habits.
A therapist might meet with the child and parent together or meet with the child alone. It depends on the child’s age. A therapist might also meet with a parent to give tips and ideas for how to help their child at home, as well as education and support.
What Happens in Therapy?
At first, the therapist will meet with you and your child to talk. They will ask questions and listen. This helps them learn more about your child and about the problem. The therapist will tell you how they can help.
After that, your child will go to more therapy visits. At these visits, your child might:
- Talk. Talking is a healthy way to express feelings. When kids put feelings into words instead of actions, they can act their best. When someone listens and knows how they feel, kids are more ready to learn.
- Do activities. Therapists use activities to teach about feelings and coping skills. They may have kids draw or play as a way to learn. They may teach some things like mindfulness and calm breathing as a way to lower stress.
- Practice new skills. Therapists help kids practice what they learn. They might play games where kids need to wait their turn, use self-control, be patient, follow directions, listen, share, try again, or deal with losing.
- Solve problems. With older kids and teens, therapists ask how problems affect them at home, at school. They talk over how to solve these problems.
How Long Do Kids Do Therapy?
How long therapy lasts can vary and depends on the goals you and your child’s therapist have. Most of the time, a therapist will want to meet with your child once a week for a few months.
How Can Parents Help?
You can do things to help your child get the most from therapy. Here are some of them:
- Find a therapist you and your child feel comfortable with. Your child’s GP or local Community Social Worker can help you find someone.
- Take your child to all the appointments. Change takes time. It takes many therapy visits for your child to learn new skills and keep them up.
- Meet with your child’s therapist. Ask what to do when your child shows problems at home. Ask how to help your child do well.
- Spend time with your child. Play, cook, read, or laugh together. Do this every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
- Parent with patience and warmth. Use kind words, even when you need to correct your child. Show love. Give praise when your child is doing well or trying
Talking to Your Child About Going to Therapy
How do I tell my child that they are going to therapy?
As you prepare for your first session with a therapist/counsellor, you might be wondering what the best way to break this news to your child is. This is a question we get asked often. Parents often have concerns about how their child might react to the news, or whether they will feel like something is wrong with them.
While the prospect of seeing a therapist is usually more daunting for parents than their children, here are some tips that might help you navigate this conversation more smoothly.
- Talk about it calmly. Do not bring up the topic of therapy in the middle of/immediately after an argument or crisis. If your child is upset, he or she will not be receptive to the idea, and you are likely to meet resistance. If the parent seems angry, the child will feel like they are being punished. It is very important that your child does not feel like therapy is a punishment, but rather that it is a safe space for them to discuss their problems.
- Discuss the issue. Briefly speak about the challenges that your child or family has been experiencing. Let your child know that you have noticed that he/she has been struggling recently and empathise with how hard this must be. Briefly touch on any strategies you may have already tried to help the situation, and how this has worked out. Let your child know that you have booked an appointment with someone who can help.
- Explain and normalise therapy. In an age-appropriate way, explain what therapy is and what they can expect at the appointments. Tell your child that they are not the problem and that the whole family will work on figuring it out together with the therapist. A therapist is like a “feelings coach” or “feelings doctor” who can help them talk about all the times that they feel mad, bad, or sad. A therapist will also talk to them about things they are good at and enjoy doing, and all the times that they feel happy or silly. Tell your child that the therapist will have interesting games, and fun toys to play with.
- If your child is older, he or she might be wary of the therapist’s agenda and what information will be reported to parents. Let them know that a therapists job is not to tell them what to do, but to help them figure out what they want and how to achieve that. The therapist will also explain whether and what is talked about is confidential (private to the sessions) and what is not. This is an agreement between them and the therapist.
- It is important to avoid imparting any stigma surrounding therapy onto children. Having open conversations free of any mystery or unease lets children know that seeing a therapist is not shameful. Explore their beliefs about what counselling is and who goes to counselling. Promote therapy as a helpful and educational activity, and as an opportunity for positive change.
- Give your child time to ask questions. Some parents may be tempted to open up the conversation on the way to the therapist’s office. We do not recommend doing this, as it denies kids the opportunity to ask questions, clarify concerns, and share their feelings about going to therapy. For younger children, talk to them about their appointment 1-2 days beforehand, and at least 5-7 days beforehand for teens and adolescents.