top of page

About Child Psychotherapy

What is Child & Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy? 


Child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a way of exploring in depth a child's and young person’s conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings.  Rather than simply tackling the apparent surface “symptom”, the relationship between the child/ young person and the therapist is central to the treatment. It is through this relationship that a child or young person can be helped to understand him/herself and what might be underlying the difficulties, and also to explore other areas which might be causing problems, thereby manage feelings and behaviour more effectively. This can lead to improvement in their capacity to learn, grow and relate to others. 


A child or young person does not need to be able to articulate “what the problem is” in order to access this therapy;  children and young people are encouraged to talk (or for younger children play / draw) about whatever comes into their minds, and it is the therapist’s role to identify patterns and make sense of this communication.  The relationship with the therapist is crucial as often patterns from other parts of a child's/young person’s life get repeated in the relationship with the therapist, where they can be thought about.


Because psychoanalytic psychotherapy works at such a deep level, often with what is not fully conscious, it is often helpful when other therapies have not been helpful.  This is because someone coming for therapy might not be fully aware of why it is that they feel or behave a certain way.  It is often appropriate for particularly long-standing or complex difficulties, maybe where a child/ young person has a range of interrelated “symptoms”.  It is also often the treatment of choice for very young children and young people who would struggle to engage in other ways of working.


Each case is unique and requires a different approach. Some problems can be quickly worked through via brief intervention, others require a long-term approach. 

What can Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy help with?

Child psychotherapists treat individual children and young people with a wide variety of difficulties. Problems may include:

⋅ Difficulties with relationships or social interaction

⋅ Aggression and angry outbursts

⋅ Lack of motivation and low mood

⋅ Irrational fears and worries

⋅ Obsessive and compulsive behaviours

⋅ Anxiety (often expressed in behaviour such as bed-wetting, sleep difficulties, soiling, refusal to eat or drink, refusal to go to       school)

⋅ Risk-taking or self-harming behaviour, suicidal thoughts

⋅ Developmental problems

⋅ Communication disorders such as autism

⋅ A child being unhappy, anxious or withdrawn for no apparent reason

⋅ The lasting effects of bereavement, family breakdown, chronic illness, disability, trauma, neglect or abuse

bottom of page