A growing number of children are being diagnosed with mental health disorders such as anxiety, separation anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and many more and this labelling can make a child deeply misunderstood. While the 21st century brings numerous benefits to young people in the western world, it has also brought contaminated areas such as the pressure to succeed, social media promoting unattainable images of perfect bodies, along with gender and sexual norms - many young people have viewed pornography by the age of fourteen and parents cannot always protect their children with the ubiquitous access presented by the digital age.
Countless factors contribute to difficult family life such as poverty, child abuse, violence, neglect, mental health difficulties, along with the pressure to be successful. We need to help young people by understanding the context of their difficulties and the impact it is having on their mental health. Empowering children to understand their behaviour is a natural response to their difficult experiences and may help them develop a more accurate acceptance of their strengths, while developing the vehicle for change and finding meaning. This will allow them to be all they can be and enable them to love and be loved.
Dementia is a progressive neurological impairment creating emotional trauma in social relationships with their care givers and those around them. The person has a sense of emptiness through loss of ability to do tasks effecting their verbal and cognitive abilities. This can create a loss of sensory, social contacts and memories. A person can lose the ability to recognise close family members and places, creating a frightening daily existence. Some can also hallucinate or be delusional.
With the person-centred approach concentrating on feelings, a sense of belonging, attachments and personal identity supports them as all behaviour has meaning however confusing or meaningless it may appear. The aim of therapy is to improve well-being and emotional security to create and maintain self worth for the client. Through empathic listening and adjusting ourselves to their emotional reality, viewing the world through their eyes. For many people with dementia the present moment is often the only place they can be and giving those moments a sense of well-being and belonging is what counselling should be.
Jacinta Bourke is a counsellor and psychotherapist operating in the Ealing W5 and surrounding areas. She is a member of BACP - the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.