Working with Children

A discussion is currently taking place on LinkedIn about hypnotherapy with children.  I personally am pleased to work with children from 4 years and upwards.  They are great fun and very imaginative and, it therefore follows, very suggestible.  I do agree with Dr. Lindsay B Yeates, however, that it is often the parent(s) that is the problem and it is important to have a few ground rules in place before beginning to work with a child.  Here are some of Dr Yeates’ stipulations which he explains to the parent before commencing treatment:

  • the child is my client, not the parent
  • the parent will not be present in the consulting/treatment room at any time other than the history taking at the initial consultation.
  • the parent agrees not to discuss the treatment with the child at any time, i.e. they do not try to find out from the child what has been said.
  • the parent accepts that any information given to me by the child will only be passed on to them (the parent) provided the child freely and willingly choses to allow me to do so.

I think these rules are very important.  As I have already said, it is sometimes very clear at the initial consultation that it is the parent or parents who have the problem and it is therefore key that the child can trust the therapist or counsellor and know that everything discussed within the therapy room will remain completely confidential – with the usual proviso, of course, that should I perceive the child to be in danger, then I would need to break that confidentiality.

Presenting problems:  I have treated are a 5 year old who refused to speak at school. She chatted happily with her father at the information gathering but would apparently not speak in public. She was clearly exceptionally bright and was able to read several stories to me and tell me what she enjoyed doing with her dad. It transpired that she had to act as translator on a daily basis for her mother who had no English and was finding a way to rebel against this role.

A few weeks ago I saw a little girl who following a bad cold had developed a strange tic, inadvertently and repeatedly snuffling and screwing up her eyes. She was beginning to be teased at school and her mother was very anxious about it. We had great fun chasing the tic around and hiding it in her shoes while she was at school and it has now disappeared completely.

A common problem is picky or fussy eating – often stemming from early childhood where the parents have focused strongly on persuading a child to eat following an illness.  The child will often equate love and attention with either refusing to eat or overeating and, of course, this is an issue that, if not treated, can spill over into adulthood and cause severe difficulties later on.

My conclusion: provided you have clear ground rules around the involvement of parents, children are a delight to work with and  amazing changes can be brought about using fantasy journeys and creatures, stories and making full use of the child’s imagination.