As it is broadly understood, mental health refers to a state of emotional well being or a sense of wellness.
Our sense of well-being comes from factors such as being able to enjoy life, have a sense of worth or self-esteem, take care of ourselves properly through nutrition and exercise, develop meaningful relationships, problem solve, deal with stress or have a sense of purpose in life. Counselling at The Listening Tree falls within this broader understanding of mental or emotional health.
Counselling for us is a collaborative effort by both the individual and the counselor. This means both parties need to put in time, effort and resources into making it work. The goals and methods used are discussed and agreed upon by both parties. It is the counselor's responsibility not to impose his/her point of view, to stay impartial and to suggest the best techniques available. The individual, in turn, needs to take responsibility for implementing the changes that he/she wishes to make.
Counselling is a process, one that involves time and effort. Making changes in the way you think or feel may take time. Some people may attend just one or two sessions and gain an insight that will provide immediate relief. Others may need to attend many more sessions.
Counselling is a relationship of trust. An individual needs to feel understood, accepted and a connection with his/her counselor. Real progress is made when the individual is secure and comfortable enough in the relationship to open up. The quality of the relationship that develops is critical for success in counselling.
People often find themselves struggling to cope with the multiple demands of work and home in today’s complex world. We are parent, spouse, child, employee, boss, friend, co-worker, teacher or student all at the same time. We feel a lot of pressure and stress from the various responsibilities and expectations placed upon us in these roles. If you feel burnt out and exhausted by the stress you are experiencing, either in your roles at work or at home, you may wish to reach out to someone who can help you cope better.
Our loved ones can bring us both joy and pain. If you are struggling within a significant relationship, you may wish to reach out to someone who can help you sort out your priorities and establish your own identity in relation to others.
You may have a specific reason to be unhappy or maybe you are experiencing a general dissatisfaction with life. Whatever the reason, you may find it hard to make people understand what you are going through. If you’ve got the blues that stay around for extended periods of time, you may wish to reach out to someone who can help you feel better.
These are just a few examples of the kind of emotional difficulties we face in our daily lives. If you are going through any kind of personal difficulty and feel you have reached a point where you cannot cope, please reach out for help. You can always approach your family or friends but if that is not helping, you may wish to approach a counselor.
Childhood, adolescence and young adulthood can be challenging as this is a period of great transformation. This is a time when both the body and the mind are undergoing a lot of changes
with each stage of growth having its own set of needs and challenges. As children grow they have to cope with not only hormonal changes, brain development and growth spurts but also
various academic, social and peer challenges as well. It is a time of both excitement and uncertainty. Children and young people are often experimenting with new identities or
ideologies, exploring different relationships with people, trying to test their limits or explore their options. Parents and families may find these changes challenging to cope with as well.
As a parent, you may have noticed how your son or daughter is behaving differently and wondered what is going on. You may be sitting with that nagging feeling that something is
bothering your child but you are unable to pinpoint what it could be. You may feel unsure about how to handle the changes your child is going through. Are you supposed to discipline your child or support them in some other way? It is normal for every parent to be faced with these thoughts at some point or the other.
Every child is a wonderful yet different individual. They perhaps perceive life differently than adults do. As adults, we need to keep an open and supportive attitude when it comes to the many challenges of growing up and becoming an adult. Sometimes, a child or young person maybe
unwilling or unable to talk to parents or family about what is troubling them. If you feel you require additional support in helping your son or daughter cope with the changes they are
undergoing, you may wish to consult a counsellor.
We, the counsellors of The Listening Tree provide you with a safe, non-judgemental and
confidential space for you and your child. We can assist children, adolescents and young people
cope with a multitude of challenges such as dealing with divorce or separation, any kind of abuse, bedwetting, bullying, sibling rivalry, school-related problems, self-confidence, anxiety, coping with peer pressure, making friends, communication or managing stress.
As a parent, you may have a lot of questions about ending your child for counselling. You can
meet any of our counsellors to discuss your concerns and to find out more about how the process works.
How do I know my child needs to see a counsellor?
If you feel your child might have a problem and needs help coping with some difficulty, trust your instincts. If your child is showing signs of behavioral problems such as hitting/biting or bedwetting; emotional problems such as mood swings, sadness or excessive anger; or physical
problems such as headaches or stomach aches and the doctors can’t find anything wrong,
consulting a counsellor maybe an option for you. Sometimes a significant drop in academic performance, particularly if the child normally maintains high marks, or a refusal to go to school can be a sign that something is wrong. They may have become socially withdrawn and isolated from their friends or developed insomnia or increased sleepiness. Perhaps you suspect they are being bullied or are bullying other children. These are all signs that a child may need additional help from a counsellor.
If your child is not yet school-age and if there's a significant delay in achieving developmental
milestones such as walking, talking or toilet training and if there are concerns regarding autism or other developmental disorders, you will need to see a developmental or clinical psychologist. If you are unsure of what the problem is or where to go, we can assist you with a referral.
What will the counsellor do with my child?
The counsellor tries to understand what is going on in your child's world through your child's eyes. Counsellors may use various media such as stories, clay, drawing, role playing, puppets and games to help the child express what they are going through and how they are feeling. In addition to creating a safe and confidential space, care is taken to ensure that the work undertaken is appropriate to the age, stage of development and specific concern of the child or adolescent. The purpose is to ensure the achievement of certain goals which, depending on the context, can be anything from building confidence to developing healthy coping mechanisms, improved socializing or healthier ways to express negative emotions.
What if my child says private things about my family?
It is understandable that you may be concerned about what the child could say about the family
in counselling. Our counsellors are bound by a code of confidentiality. We will not be discussing
what goes on within the family with other people. Our job is not to judge you or anyone else in your family, our sole purpose is to help your child manage their problems and try to resolve them in a positive way. In order to support your child, it is important that he/she feels free to talk about experiences in the family that may be troubling or confusing. It is important that you give
approval to your child to talk to the counsellor freely.
Will the counsellor give me a report on my child?
As a parent you will want to know what is going on with your child during counselling. Though
we normally do not issue any written report, the Listening Tree counsellors will meet with you on a scheduled basis to review progress. What the counsellor discusses with you will be processed with the child beforehand. It is important to remember that we will have a confidential relationship with your child and the effectiveness of our work with the child is depended on a counsellor maintaining these boundaries. The only very rare exception to this would be if the counsellor thought your child was at serious risk of harming themselves or others.
What role do I as a parent need to play in the counselling process?
By deciding to take your son/daughter to a professional, you have made the first move towards helping your child. This is not an easy decision and we recognise your courage in taking this
step. Your active support and encouragement through the counselling process is vital. We have a
saying among counsellors, the younger the child, the more we need to work with the parent. Working with the child may mean working through you in modifying some aspect of parenting
in order to strengthen the child’s coping mechanisms. In other words, you may need to change something about how you do things in order to help your child cope. Other ways of showing your support may include reminding or bringing your child for sessions, helping to rearrange their schedules or bringing your doubts and questions to the counsellor
directly instead of asking the child. Keep an open mind. Be available to talk with your child if they want to discuss something with you.
Can I ask my child about how the counselling is going?
Some children may be okay talking to a parent about their sessions while others, particularly teenagers, may not wish to. It is important to respect a child’s choice about this matter. Trying to
be supportive while maintaining respect for their privacy may be very difficult for a parent but it
is an important aspect to helping a child get on with their recovery. You will need to trust the counsellor so make sure you meet the counsellor and feel confident about them before you start counselling for your child.
How long will my child need to see a counsellor for?
It depends on the child and the issue that is being handled. The counsellor will have an idea of how long after meeting with the child and listening to their story. We normally start with four
sessions and then review with parents if and how to proceed further.