Group Therapy- Should our children be involved in it?

School is meant to be one of the best times in our lives. Filled with vast opportunities to explore our individuality and ways of thinking. Figuring out who we are as a person and beginning to delve into what makes us unique. For some children, school can be daunting. Especially as children get older and are subjected to a variety of situations which lead to emotional responses. Bullying is becoming a much more talked about subject and with social media becoming more and more a part of daily lives, this too is causing huge emotional traumas. While we will never be able to control all aspects of our lives, it is important that we learn resilience. If children are taught how to adapt to emotional challenges, we can equip them with the power to make changes. 

The teaching of social and emotional skills within our curriculum is not a new concept, it has been a skill set within education for more than 20 years.  Research shows that early intervention of such skills can have a lasting impact leading to the lessened likelihood of children developing mental health issues later in life. However, it could be argued that with the pressures of the curriculum today and the challenges we are now facing with mental health amongst young people, teachers haven’t got the resources or time to give social and emotional learning the attention it so clearly needs.  Speaking from a teaching perspective, the workload is forever increasing and with the demands of attainment it is hard to manage children’s learning time. Not to mention the fact that mental health is now such a diverse area, teacher training does not equip us with a wide enough skill set to meet the demands of societies mental health epidemic. 

Having experienced several traumas from an early age and struggled later on in life due to lacking emotional resilience, I now have made it my mission to become equipped with the knowledge and expertise that can help children and adults living in today’s world. Knowing what I know now, I wish I had been able to take part in group therapies, allowing me to know I wasn’t alone but also to provide fun and engaging ways to help self-regulate my emotions. Don’t get me wrong, a number of children will go through their school career with little or no long-lasting traumas/negative emotional experiences. This being the case, the Health and Well-Being programs used within schools will be enough. My blog today is about that small group of children who struggle. Those children who find it difficult to understand their emotions and don’t know how to self-regulate as the skill of resilience has not yet been learned. 

For some families, private therapy just isn’t an option for reasons including finance and transportation. However, if schools were able to bring in resilience building programs and highlight individuals who would benefit then potentially, we could give our children vital tools to support them throughout the rest of their lives. Schools in America have bought into such programs, utilising them for school aged children, including those who with ADHD, anxieties or traumas. Children who have been identified as having deficits with their social competence have been offered the chance to take part in group therapies and the research has shown big transformations. A typical series of workshops would include stress management skills, problem-solving, focusing on leadership skills and empathy. A number of workshops following a CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) approach. 

When working with children, these kinds of skills need to be taught in an engaging way as well as providing a safe environment where children feel confident and able to take part. Building a strong rapport within a group is vital, hence needing to run workshops as a series as opposed to a one off. As part of setting up Future Footsteps Coaching and Therapy, one of my main aims was to be able to give back to the children that today are in a similar position to when I was their age. My experience within the teaching profession has taught me many things but I feel that my nurturing approach to teaching and learning is one of the most powerful skill sets I have built. Taking this further, I created Little Footsteps, the part of Future Footsteps that focuses solely on Coaching and Therapy for children. 

I have built workshops which focus on developing Confidence and Self-Esteem, Coping with Anxiety and Controlling Anger. Three key areas that over the years are becoming more and more visible amongst our children. Sessions are creatively designed to help children develop strategies to overcome social and emotional issues. Each workshop touches on a variety of therapeutic techniques to teach children how to self-regulate giving them the power to make changes and have the ability to adapt to emotional challenges. Using my experience from teaching I have connected this knowledge with the skills gained through self-study and training to adapt my Coaching and Therapy to target different audiences. Having a background in Education has provided a firm grounding for Little Footsteps alongside this, my personal interests in sport and experiences teaching adults as well as children, I believe Future Footsteps has the tools and expertise to allow each and every one of us to “Step into the best version of you”. 

Future Footsteps Coaching and Therapy is here for you and your child. Please get in touch if there is anything else you feel you would like support with.

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