Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

It might help to explain first the kind of clinical and pre-clinical training that Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists undertake...

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists are mental health professionals who train rigorously in observational skills, child development and child psychotherapy to become skilled in understanding the emotional complexity and needs behind an infant, child or young person's problematic emotions, physical symptoms, behaviours and responses.

The clinical training includes supervised pre-clinical studies such as the Mother and Baby and the Toddler Observation Studies which are carried out weekly for a period of 2 years or more (the Mother and Baby and Infant observation studies) and of 6 to 9 months (the Toddler in Nursery observation studies.)

Furthermore, during their studies trainees undertake extensive clinical placements with Under 5s, primary school aged children and adolescents and complete Child Mental Health Training and a Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Placement. They also undertake Adult Psychotherapy and Parent Psychotherapy clinical training and placements.

Children express their feelings, concerns and wishes through their play, fantasies and imagination so child psychotherapists train in and use a range of psychological, symbolic, creative and play interventions to make sense of and respond to what children are communicating in sessions. 

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy also involves working closely with parents and carers, providing confidential, open-minded and non-judgemental spaces for reflective thinking that will support their child's therapy and needs.

Overall Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy studies take 5 or more years to complete, providing child psychotherapists with specialist knowledge and skills that enable them to form and maintain positive and supportive relationships with children, young people and their families.


If your child's behaviour, emotional expressions and self-esteem have been concerning you for some time it is probable that child psychotherapy (a long-term and in-depth intervention) will best support their emotional and mental health in the long run.

​I can help with the following matters:

  • difficulties managing emotions

  • anxiety, OCD, intrusive thoughts

  • childhood depression

  • low self-esteem/confidence

  • racism and discrimination

  • LGBT+ Youth

  • medically unexplained symptoms (e.g. wetting, soiling, aches)

  • a history of multiple losses

  • relational trauma and/or difficulties (attachment)

  • adoption (read more in the Contact section)

  • making sense of diagnoses

  • Neurodiversity and developmental needs

  • selective mutism

  • school refusal

  • dissociation

  • Third Culture Kids (TCKs)

  • mixed heritage and identity

  • chronic bullying

  • childhood abuse/trauma and post-traumatic stress


Whereas child psychotherapy helps with long-term emotional, physical, psychological and behavioural concerns in depth and over a long period of time, child counselling tends to be a shorter therapeutic intervention that can help when a specific matter needs exploring and making sense of.

​I can help with the following matters:

  • a recent bereavement

  • recent hospitalisations

  • parental divorce or separation

  • the arrival of a sibling

  • transitioning to secondary school

  • before or after a move

  • blended families or parents remarrying

  • recent bullying


The Human Brain's Neurobiology

From birth the human brain is repeatedly wiring and rewiring itself through hundreds of billions of neural connections. This daily and constant neural activity supports human development and helps our brains make sense of the environment to process and assimilate new experiences and perceptions. These new experiences and perceptions are then integrated into existing neural networks, becoming part of the ongoing neurobiological make up of a person.

But sometimes when we witness or experience a traumatic event our brains become so overwhelmed with sensory, cognitive and emotional information that they cannot process all the distressing material linked to the event (images, emotions, thoughts, sensations...) Then the unprocessed distressing material becomes stored in the memory networks and can cause anxiety, relationship difficulties, phobias, flashbacks, loss of confidence, etc.

EMDR Therapy is an effective therapy modality that can be used to treat children and adolescents who are experiencing ongoing distress after one or multiple traumatic events.

This therapeutic technique can be effectively adapted by trained clinicians to match different developmental needs and ages to help children and young people process trauma.


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Website illustrations courtesy of Ele Long