What is child and adolescent psychotherapy?
Child and adolescent psychotherapy is an evidence based treatment for infants, children, young people and their families who may be experiencing complex emotional and psychological difficulties.
The focus of child and adolescent psychotherapy is to help understand what is being communicated about a child’s inner world through their behavior, play or words.
The therapeutic relationship is developed through talking or play, depending on age. The aim is for the child or young person to have a better understanding of themselves, their relationships and behaviour in order to change as they learn, grow and develop.
Child and adolescent psychotherapists may see children and young people individually or with their family.
Child psychotherapists also apply their psychoanalytic approach to work with parents, carers and other professionals to gain a deeper understanding of the child’s perspective.
Child psychotherapists are based in child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS).
Children are referred by colleagues within the service and external professionals such as GP’s, education staff or social workers.
What can children and families expect
An assessment for psychotherapy usually begins with a family appointment, followed by three or six individual sessions with the child, then a review with the family and referring professional.
Where a child is looked after by a Local Authority it may be appropriate for the carers and professionals involved to meet as well as or instead of meeting with the family.
Where family work is indicated, an assessment may involve sessions with parents and children together.
Length of treatment
Appointments can be weekly, fortnightly or monthly, but psychotherapy treatment can also involve intensive work meaning as many as three sessions per week.
Following an assessment, a treatment plan will be agreed, this could be short-term (six weeks to six months) or ongoing work may be recommended, which could mean more long term support (one year or more).
Individual psychotherapy sessions last 50 minutes.
Children usually meet with a psychotherapist on their own but this can take time for little children to feel comfortable, so they can be seen with parents initially.
Older children often like to talk about their difficulties, younger children may play or draw in sessions.
Child psychotherapists usually see children at the same time, on the same day and in the same room each week. A predictable routine and consistency is important.
Parent work alongside their child’s treatment may be offered fortnightly and review meetings for parents or professionals are offered termly.
Child and adolescent psychotherapists can also offer consultations to groups, networks or teams who think a psychoanalytic perspective may be helpful.
Child and adolescent psychotherapists in TEWV
County Durham and Darlington child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS)
192 Medomsley road
For further information about child psychotherapy visit Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP) https://childpsychotherapy.org.uk
There are a range of leaflets and information for parents and professionals at: https://childpsychotherapy.org.uk/child-psychotherapy/publications/leaflets-guides/
L1011, V2, 06/03/2022 (Archive: 05/03/2025)