Children psychotherapy by Rania Michaelidou – How can this help the parents?

Hello everybody,

Sometimes parents do not have all the answers. Sometimes there are complicated ways to handle children tantrums. Maybe your child has been struggling for weeks, months, maybe even years. Maybe it’s friendship issues. Maybe it’s school stress. Maybe your child seems anxious or irritable most of the time. Maybe you’re worried about your child’s temper. Maybe your family is going through a rough transition and it seems to be hitting your child hard.
You’re wondering if your child needs to talk with a psychotherapist...

Sometimes problems like developmental delays, learning or attention problems, isolation, behavioral problems, sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or other traumatic events, attachment problems or even the simple act of developing a healthy relationship between a parent and a child, make parents worried and anxious to find a solution.

“Kids Fun in Cyprus” had a pleasant meeting with Mrs. Rania Michaelidou PAP Registered Psychotherapist, Counselor at her Counselling Center Limassol, Cyprus. Mrs. Rania was very happy to answer us a few questions that will help many parents to find the right solution to their problems.

Izzy: Mrs. Rania Michaelidou, thank you very much for this opportunity, to answer few of our questions. What can you tell us about your work experience in Cyprus as a Psychotherapist? How many years have you been treating children?
Mrs. Rania Michaelidou: I have been working with children as a Psychotherapist in Cyprus since 2006. Within my work experience there is certainly an increase in child therapy as it seems that over the years there is a great increase in child stress. Stress leads many children and teenagers today to emotional and behavioral problems, sleep and appetite disorders and poor academic and social functioning. In general life events in a child’s life today seem more difficult and complicated. In today’s life their definitely seems to be a drastic range of increase with divorce, family conflicts, abuse, trauma, bullying, developmental delays and learning and attention problems.

Izzy: What are the main problems for children and also between children and parents that can be solved with your help? What are the symptoms that indicate that children may need psychotherapy?
Mrs. R.M: Many times in therapy children are overly reactive towards their parents.  Usually children approach negative attention as they don’t listen. They tend to do the opposite to what their parents want them to do. On the other hand parents usually feel frustrated as they feel that they lost control most of the times with their child.
Many times parents without consciously understanding push their child to do something the “right way”, when it could have been done in several ways. Parents many times need to correct their child’s behavior and end up sounding critical instead of acknowledging their child’s effort to try something.
Through therapy children are supported to work to have freedom to do what they choose is right and responsible for them without having the need to seek for negative attention.
Parents in our consultations receive the support they need to allow their child to express their thoughts or concerns and feel accepted and acknowledged without an argument.
This gives parents the freedom to be creative and discover things within their child.
Symptoms that indicate that children may need psychotherapy
• A significant drop in grades
 • Sadness, tearfulness episodes, and signs of depression
 • Social withdrawal and isolation
 • Being a victim of bullying or bullying others
 • Low interest in previous enjoyed activities
 • Overly reactive and aggressive behavior
 • Sudden changes in appetite
 • Disturbed sleep patterns
 • School absenteeism (mostly with teenagers)
 • Mood swings
 • Development of physical complaints (stomachache, or not feeling well)
 • Management of a serious illness
 • Signs of substance use and dependence (mostly with teenagers)
 • Problems in transitions (following separation, divorce)
 • Bereavement issues
• Therapy following physical, sexual, emotional abuse or any other trauma

Izzy: How old should be a child to be able to be treated by a psychotherapist? What is a usual session looks like? How involved are parents in therapy?
Mrs. R.M.: The younger the kids are treated, the more responsive they are to psychotherapy.
The reality is that when kids aren’t able to act in age-appropriate ways, it’s best not to wait.
When working with children up to 3 years old psychotherapy mostly centers around parents. Through psychotherapy consultations parents feel supported and thus are encouraged to approach and shape their child’s behavior more positively.
The child may be asked to participate in sessions to interact with its parents / parent where therapy focuses on strengthening the attachment between parent and child.
Therapy increases parent confidence in managing child behavior.
Also in psychotherapy new form of behaviors and skills are reflected and mirrored out by the therapist and then role-played with parents. Parents then practice the skills at home.

Izzy: Many of us we expect that problems to solve in a matter of days. Of course depending of the health problem that clients may have these issues can be solved after just of few sessions others may take years. Should we be confident while searching to find solution in your center? How soon should parents expect improvement?
Mrs. R.M.: During the years of my work experience I feel confident enough to say that my client is always my concern. My main priority is to allow the child to fully express itself freely so that any disturbed emotion or feeling is fully touched. Thus then we can face it and resolve it during our play sessions. Approximately after six times there is progress depending always how complicated the child’s behavior is.

Izzy: May children be nervous about coming to see a psychotherapist. What parents should tell them? How we prepare the children for psychotherapy?
Mrs. R.M.: Depending always on the case of each child or teenager parents are consulted on how to approach their child to start therapy. Honesty is always very important. Parents many times are guided on how to teach their child the value of seeking help.
Older children and teenagers sometimes ask their parents themselves to start therapy.  Therapy usually is a pleasurable journey for children and teenagers as like adults can benefit from it.
In time were they feel healthier children and teenagers look forward to coming as they cope with their stress and a variety of emotional and behavioral issues that get them tired. They develop problem-solving skills as they need help dealing with school stress, such as homework, test anxiety, bullying, or peer pressure.
Many just need a safe place where they feel, trust, empathy and unconditional positive regard which helps them discuss their feelings about family issues, or a major transition, such as a divorce, move, or serious illness.

Izzy: What psychotherapeutic approaches and tools do you use?
Mrs. R. M.: Child centred psychotherapy.  During our play sessions the child is given the freedom, within the therapist’s structure to explore feelings about self and others.
The therapeutic relationship provides an environment where it becomes safe for the child to experiment and explore, learn about his / her choices, self-responsibility, self – motivation self – confidence and thus resolve any emotional complications and inner conflicts.

Izzy: Thank you very much for your time and interesting answers, Rania which will help many parents to take decisions easier. From your experience as a mother and a psychotherapist please share with our readers a story or quote important for you!
Mrs. R.M.:  “People are just wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying; soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner. I don’t try and control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds”. Carl Rogers.

Lots of sunny days from Izzy the Cypriot lizard!

Rania Michaelidou
Psychotherapy and Counseling Centre

Address: Corner Vasileous Konstandinou and Roumbens St.
Africa court, 4th Floor, Office No. 42, 3075
Limassol, Cyprus
Child psychotherapy fees: 40 euro per 50 min
Phone no: +357 99016331  
Fax: +357 25738755