Let's get technical
I have a MA in Integrative Child Psychotherapy – that means that I use a range of different methods and models of working to suit the child and their particular needs. I have additional training in working with complex trauma and dissociation in children. These two conditions often go hand in hand and are usually the result of severe neglect and abuse in early childhood at the hands of those the child depended on for safety.
I have learned over the years that children almost always have a greater understanding of what is troubling them than we as adults credit them with. I listen carefully to children, helping them to find the imagery and words to describe what can sometimes feel like very confusing and chaotic feelings. I work all the time with imagery and metaphors – they are so helpful in adding richness to our vocabulary and helping to move away from the poverty of language that often goes with the labels children are given.
Images I have found helpful to describe how I work are of a map and compass. Having a map of the territory we are in (such as melt-downs, attachment difficulties, anxiety) helps us to feel less lost, and to be able to navigate our way together through sometimes challenging terrain. The compass is our knowledge of the workings of the brain-body and human relationships – orientating us to understand what is happening to this person and their brain and body in this moment and how can they best be soothed and regulated.
I believe that a helpful map has to begin with a good assessment, and I have accreditation in several assessments that are helpful in understanding more about the inner world of your child (see assessment section for more details). When I work with a child I usually start by using something that the child already enjoys doing, such as making models, creating stories, using film or music. I never cease to be amazed and impressed by how children find ways to communicate their deepest thoughts and feelings.