Child psychologist Sydney

Is your child flunking out at school? Struggling to make friends? Isolating themselves and staying in their rooms? Refusing to do new things?

Are you struggling to cope with your child’s behaviour? Experiencing anxiety about their choices and wellbeing? Or just feeling unconfident in your parenting decisions?

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Therapy with children

From rooms in Double Bay, Sydney, I work directly with children and adolescents to help them build the skills and strategies they need to improve their wellbeing.I can also work directly with you as a parent, to help you build skills to effectively support your child and feel confident that you’re doing the best to set them up for a healthy and productive life.

When working with children and adolescents, I adopt a family-focussed cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) approach. This approach has widespread support among both researchers and clinicians. I make every effort to develop a strong connection to your child. I believe the key is to add an element of fun to sessions, so I often incorporate games and novelty.

When issues are affecting school, I can (where appropriate) liaise with the school to promote healthy functioning in this environment. The extent to which you as a parent will be involved will depend on the child’s presentation, age, and their preferences. For example, when working with younger children it’s typical for parents to take on the role of ‘coach’ to make sure the skills learnt during our sessions are put into practice at home.

Working towards change

To give you an idea of the skills I might teach a child, let’s consider an example of an eight-year-old child who is suffering from separation anxiety and not wanting to go to school.

Every child is different, and there is no one-size fits all approach in therapy, however these are techniques I may use:

Thought strategy

Teaching your child skills to work out whether worries and thoughts are helpful and realistic. I often use the concept of a thought detective, teaching the child to find clues for their unhelpful thoughts and work out whether a distressing thought is actually a “thinking mistake”.
Children might ask themselves questions along the lines of:
• Has anything bad happened in the past? (for example, I’ve been at the school for two years and nothing bad has happened)
• What has happened to others I know? (for example, my friends go to school every day without their parents and they have fun)
• Is there any information I am missing? (for example, there are lots of teachers at school to help me if something goes wrong)

Emotion strategy

I might teach child-focussed relaxation skills such as deep breathing or muscle relaxation.

Behaviour strategy

This might involve using a stepladder approach to help your child face fear gradually and build confidence about being away from parents. Examples of challenge goals for the stepladder could include:

  • Practising being alone in the house whilst parents are in the backyard.
  • Babysitting by another family member whilst parents go out
  • Being taken to activities by a family friend, and
  • Attending a sleepover.
Parent strategy

I would educate the parents about different parenting factors known to influence anxiety in children, and come up with an action plan to address these issues. Factors include:
• Reassurance
• Overprotection
• Being too tough
• Allowing avoidance.

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Your questions answered?

Many people who come to see me have never seen a psychologist before, and don’t know what to expect. I’ve answered some of commonly asked questions to help you feel more at ease:

Are you ready to take a step forward?