These Port Melbourne Psychologists Are Helping Children With Excessive Anxiety or Worry to Feel More in Control And Less Stressed

Published by Melbourne Child Psychology & School Psychology Services, Port Melbourne

What if it was possible to help children with excessive worry or anxiety by teaching them specific practical skills?

This small team of child psychologists in Port Melbourne is using an innovative skills-based approach to help kids with anxiety or worry and seeing some very positive results.

And importantly, the skills being taught are not short-term “band-aid” fixes. Rather, they are life skills that remain relevant and effective through adolescence and adulthood.

What is “Resilience-Focused” Counselling?

This has proven to be a powerful, safe and effective way to help anxious children and teenagers feel more in control and less stressed.

The program is delivered on a one-to-one basis by experienced child psychologists and carefully tailored to the needs of each child.

In these sessions, children learn practical skills to help them build resilience and become more confident and capable of handling their everyday challenges.

What types of skills are taught?

For example, skills to help:

  • recognise and change unhelpful thoughts
  • reframe setbacks as opportunities for growth and improvement
  • solve problems independently
  • break free of the “worry loop”
  • understand and regulate emotions
  • express how they feel
  • understand how others feel
  • reduce anger, frustration and conflicts
  • manage difficult social interactions

Research shows that children with these skills perform better, feel more in control and are less stressed.

Now, it’s important to understand that this process is not about “stopping anxiety” altogether (which is, of course, impossible).

Rather, it’s about teaching children how to not let anxiety stop them from participating in daily activities, learning effectively, making friends and enjoying life.

“The best feeling is when parents tell us how much our efforts have helped create a positive difference in their child’s life. Our main aim is to help kids become empowered to reach their full potential and learn how to thrive!”

– Deborah Jepsen, Educational Psychologist

How is this approach different from other counselling services?

The staff at this clinic use evidence-based methods to effectively build resilience.

There is a strong focus on teaching practical skills instead of simply allowing kids to “talk about their feelings” in talk therapy.

Educational Psychologist, Deborah Jepsen, explains:

“Children can definitely benefit from having a ‘safe place’ to open up about their feelings, but by itself that is not enough to help them overcome their challenges. They need very specific, practical help.”

They also offer a private and independent service, away from the distractions of school.

(Deborah says parents often report their child feels more comfortable visiting a psychologist outside of school.)

Each psychologist has postgraduate training in educational psychology and experience working in schools.

And each is an expert in children’s learning, psychological wellbeing and development.

Parents are also included as much as possible.

“Privacy and confidentiality are important, especially for older children and teenagers to feel comfortable, but parents still play a vital role and the best outcomes usually come from a team effort.”

Deborah also emphasises the staff here are not clinical psychologists and do not treat serious mental health issues.

The purpose of this service is to prevent and protect against such issues from developing.

And since around half of all mental health disorders start by the age of 14 this approach certainly makes good sense.

Who is this service suitable for?

Resilience-Focused Counselling is a highly effective option for children and teenagers from 5 to 18 years old who are facing any of the following challenges:

  • General anxiety
  • Excessive worry or negative thinking
  • Social anxiety
  • Sleep difficulties related to anxiety or worry
  • Perfectionism
  • Performance or exam anxiety
  • Physical symptoms associated with anxiety (e.g. upset stomach)
  • Avoiding school or other activities

(It may not be suitable for children with a clinical mental health disorder, developmental disorder or intellectual impairment.)

What happens in counselling?

At each counselling session children spend some time individually with the psychologist.

The psychologist uses worksheets, role playing and active learning approaches to help children understand why they feel anxious in certain situations and learn how to become more aware of their thoughts and feelings.

They will learn relaxation strategies and how to replace unhelpful thinking patterns with more realistic and helpful ideas and thoughts.

And they will learn strategies to gain more control over their thoughts and prevent their emotions from controlling them.

At the end of each session parents are invited back for a brief summary of what was achieved and what skills need to be practised. This is to help make sure everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals.

How many sessions are required?

The number of sessions varies depending on each child’s specific situation and needs. However, most children with mild-to-moderate anxiety or worry make significant progress within six (6) sessions.

The first few sessions are normally scheduled weekly to quickly learn new skills and overcome immediate challenges. As things improve the remaining sessions can be scheduled fortnightly.

Private health and Medicare rebates

Parents with private health cover including psychology can claim a rebate at the initial parent consultation.

And Medicare rebates may apply to counselling sessions for children – the psychologist will explain this further at the initial parent consultation.

The next step…

If parents think this service might be helpful for their son or daughter, the first step is to book an initial parent-only consultation at the office in Port Melbourne.

This 50 minute appointment is an opportunity to discuss the issues in detail in a relaxed environment, ask questions and get the right advice for their child.

The fee for this consultation is $250 less any applicable private health fund rebate.

Click the button below and follow the prompts to book now:

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