Domestic violence whether experienced, witnessed or hidden behind closed doors can leave deep enduring marks on a child’s behavior and health.
At Yellow Brick House, we support these young children through counselling services directly in our two emergency shelters, as well as within our Community Counselling and Support Services.
Learning, absorbing, and watching the world around them, it is no surprise that domestic violence will impact children in the household. Children often develop reactions and behaviours after having witnessed violence such as acting out, becoming withdrawn, or expressing disturbing thoughts to their families, which can be very upsetting for parents. After seeing these behaviours, parents may want to reach out for more support, which is where our Children’s Counselling team can assist.
A common question we receive is: “What do we do in children’s counselling?”
The simple answer is: We develop a creative and fun environment to make counselling safe, creative and fun!
Our Children’s are trained art and play therapists and use many different approaches to make a connection with a child that is safe, fun but also meaningful and restorative. So while many children who arrive for their first counselling session are hesitant, once they see we create art, play with board games and toys – they don’t want their time to end.
Play and art therapy are common techniques in counselling for any age or population, but they work particularly well with children and youth. This is due to the simple fact that while children and youth are still gaining vocabulary and learning ways to express themselves, they can still be very expressive through their play, imagination, and creativity.
Play and art therapies create a safe outlet for children and youth to express their intense memories and feelings without relying heavily on “talk” therapy, which many people find re-triggers or causes anxiety.
How many sessions until children improve?
Providing children with 6 to 10 individual counselling sessions has shown to be helpful in assisting children in improving their coping skills, as well as adjusting their behaviours.
Working from a child-centered approach, counselors at Yellow Brick House determine the course of counselling from the child’s perspective and areas of need. This means counselling may focus on different issues, depending on what the child needs and wants to discuss.
During these counselling sessions the topic is determined by the child. Common themes often include:
- Processing thoughts and feelings
- Questions which emerge from exposure to violence at home
- Developing a safety plan
- Addressing issues related to separation, loss, and other family changes
What to Expect
As counselling progresses, children may go through increased periods of self-awareness, experience increases in anxiety, display behaviours indicating withdrawal or aggression, or increased expressions of thoughts and feelings.
Our counsellors work in collaboration with the mother or caregivers to provide parenting support to help the family reach the best outcomes for the child.
Parents can also be referred for their own Individual Counselling, Parenting or Women’s Support Group. In addition the family can be referred to other programs that we offer, such as Mothers in Mind©, the Let’s Talk program, as well as other community partner agencies.
Our doors are open. We’re here to help.