Counseling Adolescents and Children



Counseling Adolescents and Children
Counseling Adolescents and
(Henderson & Thompson, 2011)
Dr. Ria E. Baker
Children in Tibet
Introduction to a Child’s World
The honor of one is the honor of all.
The hurt of one is the hurt of all. – Creek Indian Creed
Childhood is a time to be protected, taught, and nurtured
In 2008: 73.9 million children under the age of 18 in U.S. (24.3% of pop.)
By 2021: projected 82 million
U.S. is a child-oriented nation – child labor laws; child protective laws;
education, food, medical care, clothing for children in need; FMLA;
• Barriers to children’s well-being (2007): 1 in 6 children lived in poverty, 1
in 9 had no health care coverage, and 1 in 15 between 16 -19 are
Children Defense Fund (2008)
Calls for adults worldwide to leave no child
behind. “To ensure every child a healthy start,
a head start, a safe start, and a more start in
life and successful passage to adulthood with
the help of caring families and communities.”
How America Ranks Among Industrialized
Countries in Investing in and Protecting
1st in gross domestic product
1st in number of billionaires
1st in number of persons incarcerated
1st in health expenditures
1st in defense expenditures
1st in military technology
1st in military weapons exports
21st in 15-year-olds’ science scores
22nd in low birth weight rates
25th in15-year-olds’ math scores
25th in infant mortality rates
Last in relative child poverty
Last in the gap between the rich and the poor
Last in adolescent birth rates (ages 15 – 19)
Last in protecting our children against gun
• (Children’s Defense Fund, 2008, p. 1)
Ways to ameliorate those difficulties
• Volunteer for a mentoring program (e.g. Big
Brother, Big Sister, For Houston’s Kids)
• Counseling children
• Support children programs
Students at a High School in Thimpu, Bhutan
Causes of Children’s Problems
• The intersection of personal factors, family
variables, cultural, environmental, and many
other influences.
• Problems: lack of motivation in school;
increased fighting and abusive language;
refusing to participate in school; withdrawing
from adults; few friends; teased often; two
grades behind in reading; etc.
Mental Health Professionals
• Need to be prepared to work with issues of separation, divorce, and
differing family structures;
• increased stresses and differences among cultures;
• the effect of a changing world on the family and work environments;
• poor parenting and home conditions that lead to academic, social, and
emotional problems in children;
• the need for sex education at increasingly younger ages to protect children
from disease and early pregnancy;
• gangs and the violence that accompanies membership in them; and
violence in general that results from societal influences such as abuse,
alcohol and drug use, television, negative role modeling, anger, and other
• Children in foster care or juvenile justice systems;
• difficulties facing teenage parents;
• those who have not completed their high school education.
A Changing World
• Children are not immune to the stressful
complexities and troubles of a the rapidly
changing adult world (death, divorce, major
• Adults tend to underestimate children’s
awareness of the world.
• Children are effective problem solvers and
decision makers when they have the opportunity
to be in a nonthreatening counseling atmosphere
with a counselor who listens and provides
World Initiative and Understanding
• UNICEF (1990) recorded
these beliefs as fundamental
In addressing the needs of
Children everywhere:
1. Children are individuals
2. Children start life as totally dependent beings
3. The actions, or inactions of government impact children more
strongly than any other group in society
4. Children’s views are rarely heard and rarely considered in the
political process
5. Many changes in society are having a disproportionate, and often
negative impact on children
6. The healthy development of children is crucial to the future wellbeing of any society
7. The costs of society of failing its children is huge.
Indicators of Well-Being
• Continuing, nurturing relationships
• Physical protection and safety with regulations
to safeguard those
• Experiences tailored
to individual
differences for each
child’s optimal
• Developmentally of appropriate opportunities
as building blocks for cognitive, motor,
language, emotional, and social skills
• Adults who set limits, provide structure, and
guide by having appropriate expectations.
• A community that is stable, supportive, and
Resiliency research
• Should we help clients overcome problems or
instead focus on clients’ strength and
• “the ability to continue to progress in their
positive development despite being “bent,”
“compressed,” “stretched,” by factors in a risky
environment” (Rak, 2001, p. 368)
• “…Resiliency does not come from rare and special
qualities but from the every day magic of
ordinary, normative human resources in the
minds, brains, and bodies of children, in their
family relationships and in their communities”
(Masten, 2001, p. 235).
Environmental characteristics in families and
communities that support positive development (Lewis,
• Caring and support
• High expectations
• Opportunities for
Community Services
• Preventive (e.g. Parks
and Recreation)
• Supportive (protective
Services; child care;
Adoption; counseling)
• Rehabilitative:
to enable or restore a person’s ability to participate
effectively in the community; e.g. Juvenile Justice
What is counseling? (ACA)
• The application of mental
Health, psychological, or
Human development
Principles, through cognitive,
affective, behavioral, or systemic intervention
Strategies, that address wellness, personal
growth, or career development as well as
Counseling (Atkinson, 2002)
• A profession that deals with personal, social, vocational,
empowerment, and educational concerns. It
is for people who are within the normal
range of functioning. It is theory based and
structured. In counseling, people learn to make
decisions and to find new ways to behave, feel, and think. Counseling
includes sub-specialities such as career counseling,
rehabilitation counseling, and others. Counselors may have roles in
prevention, remediation, and positive development. The focus is on
intact personalities, personal assets, strengths, and positive mental
health, regardless of the severity of the disturbance. Counseling is
relatively brief and emphasizes person – environment interactions
and the educational and career development of individuals.
Atkinson, D.R. (2002). Counseling in the 21st century: A mental health
profession comes of age. In C.L. Juntunen & D. R. Adkinson (Eds.),
Counseling across the lifespan (pp. 3-22). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Henderson, D. A. & Thompson, C. L. (2011). Counseling children. Belmont, CA:
Children’s Defense Fund. (2008). The state of America’s Children 2008.
Retrieved on July 16, 2009 from
Lewis, R. E. (2006). Resilience: individual, family, school, and community
perspectives. In D. Capuzzi & D.R. Gross (Eds.), Youth at risk: A prevention
resource for counselors, teachers, and parents (4th ed., pp. 35 – 68). Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Masten, A. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development.
American Psychologist, 56, 227-238.
Rak, C. F. (2001). Understanding and promoting resilience in at-risk children.
Journal of Counseling and Development, 74, 368-373.
UNICEF. (1990). Convention on the rights of the child. Downloaded on July 29,
2009 from

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