We understand that it can be a worrying time when your child is experiencing difficulties, so we have prepared a number of Frequently Asked Questions which may be helpful and answer some queries you may have. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
How do I know if my child needs to see a psychologist or counsellor?
This is something that we can discuss over the phone, and why we suggest an initial free telephone consultation to help decide whether we are the right people to be helping your child, before arranging an appointment. Usually, the sooner help is received the quicker the difficulties can be overcome. Generally, we recommend that if the problem is starting to affect family life, your child’s friendships, school/college work or their quality of life then it is advisable to seek an assessment.
What is a child psychologist?
Child clinical psychologists are extensively trained professionals, who have both an undergraduate degree in psychology and a post-graduate doctorate training in Clinical Practice taking 6 years in total to complete. They study child development from infancy to adulthood, child mental health, the complexities of family relationships and social, emotional and intellectual development. They are also trained in the administration of cognitive assessments (e.g. IQ and memory tests) and in research.
Child psychologists use ‘evidence-based’ practice i.e. therapeutic approaches which have been verified by scientific research to work for specific types of problem and will refer to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guidelines.
A clinical psychologist will have undertaken more training than a counsellor and have to be registered as part of the Health and Care Professionals Council, ensuring they keep up to date with current practice, research and continuing professional development.
Clinical psychologists are different from psychiatrists in that they are not medical doctors, and therefore cannot prescribe medication, although they usually have knowledge about medication and when it would be advised to consider its use, instead help using ‘talking therapies’.
What will happen in our first appointment?
We will do our best to help you and your child to feel comfortable and at ease. It is often useful to have a parent(s) at the first appointment, for at least part of the session, to provide any relevant background and developmental information.
We will spend some time getting to know your child, finding out about hobbies, interests, friends, strengths etc. as well as asking about what their best hopes are for coming to see us, and what they would like to be different in their life. It is often important for us to hear what is going well for your child/you as a family as well.
We hope that by the end of the first appointment, we are beginning to have a shared understanding of the difficulties that brought your child to come and see us, how we might work together going forward, and plan future appointments.
How many sessions will my child need?
This varies from case to case and depends very much on the agreed goals for treatment and the type of treatment that we agree is most appropriate for the presenting difficulties. The typical range of sessions that we tend to see young people for is between 6 and 30 sessions, although some people can make significant progress after 4-6 sessions, some may need more and some occasionally may only need 1-2 appointments.
We usually review progress after the first 3 or 5 sessions and then plan and discuss with you how many more sessions are likely to be needed.
The frequency of appointments will depend on the therapeutic approach taken, and/or the severity of the child or young person’s difficulties. Sessions may occur weekly or every 2 to 3 weeks. Again every case is different and we do not have ‘a one size fits all’ approach, we treat every child we meet as an individual.
Will you just see my child or can parents get advice too?
We strongly believe that parental involvement is key to helping a child or young person to make positive, lasting changes and actively encourage parents to participate in our work.
We also recognise that some young people may not want their parents involved and that there can be a benefit in talking to someone outside of the family in confidence, and for some young people it is not possible for their parents to attend sessions regularly. At the first appointment we will discuss how to involve parents appropriately, and at the same time, preserve a safe, confidential space to enable your child to talk freely.
Equally, we can offer appointments to parents without the child attending if this feels helpful to either be able to talk freely about the issues or gain advice for yourself in helping manage the difficulties.
How do confidentiality and safe-guarding work with young clients?
It is essential to us that confidentiality is understood by all parties involved and we always spend time in the first session discussing what confidentiality means and what the limits to confidentiality are. Parents may need to be informed if there are issues regarding a child’s safety and well-being, even if the child is reluctant, and we will have an open discussion regarding our duty of care to share information with outside agencies if we are concerned about your child’s welfare.
Do I need a GP referral?
We do not require a GP referral to see your child and happily accept self-referrals. For those individuals self-referring, we do not routinely communicate with GPs (unless we are concerned about a young person’s risk of harm to themselves or from another person, or you wish us to inform your doctor about our involvement) and will discuss this with you further at our first appointment.
How can I pay?
We are able to offer services to those individuals and families who are self-funding, in addition to those who have private healthcare insurance including cover for psychological therapy. Some of our therapists are registered with the following health insurance companies:
Some insurance companies will only agree to pay for psychological therapy when a young person has been assessed by a registered psychiatrist and this is part of the treatment plan.
It is best to check your own policy and what cover you have with your insurance company directly before you get in contact with us.
Some insurance companies have a set amount that they are willing to pay for psychological assessments and subsequent sessions. If this is less than our fees we would expect you to meet any additional costs and require an agreement in writing before we are able to proceed. You will also need to pay us directly to cover any excess on your policy.
Will I have to wait to be seen?
We pride ourselves on being able to offer a timely service to the families we work with and seeing children, young people and families significantly more quickly than they would likely be offered an appointment in statutory services.
The amount of time you should expect to wait to see one of us will often depend on how flexible you are in terms of the timing of the appointment. Since some appointments, such as our after school slots, tend to get booked up more quickly than others.
Can you work with my child’s school?
We often liaise with a child’s school if required, but would never do so without your permission. We can send letters/reports, speak to teachers or attend meetings if it is thought to be useful. Occasionally it can be helpful to observe your child in school, especially if there are concerns about their behaviour in school or their development, and we are happy to arrange this if it is agreed it could be beneficial.
What is a child counsellor using the therapeutic arts?
Child counselling whilst using the therapeutic arts combines both traditional talk and creative therapies. The therapeutic arts is a specialized area of mental health that uses art materials and the creative process to explore emotions, reduce anxiety, increase self-esteem, and resolve other emotional conflicts.
This can include a wide range of art materials and processes. Your sessions could potentially include activities such as working with a sand tray and miniatures, puppets, making a mask, creating a visual journal, or assembling a collage. The focus will be on the process, and the healing qualities of art making, rather than creating a finished piece of art.
No experience or artistic ability is required. The sessions are child-led, playful and exploratory.
Raising a concern
If you are unhappy with the service you have received at The Orchard Child Psychology Service, there are several different ways you can let us know. We would strongly encourage you, in the first instance, to speak to your therapist to see if they can put things right.
If you do not feel this is possible, or you have tried and still feel things are not satisfactory, then please complete the form on the Contact Us page, addressing your concerns FAO The Clinical Directors and we will be in touch to discuss the issues further.