My general theoretical orientation to counselling for both children and adults follows the person-centered approach. In addition, I frequently use two other approaches to counselling as needed: cognitive-behavioral therapy and EMDR.
The person-centered approach is based on my accurate and empathic understanding and respect of the past and present personal experiences of you and your child.
The person-centered approach is a positive approach where I focus on the constructive side of you and your child. One way of looking at this is by using the metaphor of how a seed, if provided with the appropriate conditions, will automatically grow in positive ways to a healthy mature plant. In the person-centered approach, I provide a growth-producing environment so that both you and your child are empowered to grow and make constructive changes in your lives.
In the person-centered approach, you and your child are encouraged to identify and express feelings, perceptions, thoughts, and experiences, which I accept and respect unconditionally. You and your child are given the opportunity to safely experience and explore, without judgment, the full range of your feelings, especially those feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, guilt, and shame that are often difficult to acknowledge.
The result is that you and your child:
- develop greater self-awareness and discover feelings and thoughts that you had previously been unaware of
- become less defensive and are able to perceive others differently and understand them better
- become more flexible and creative in your behaviors
- become less driven to meeting others' expectations
- become increasingly trusting and come to accept and appreciate yourselves more
A counselling approach for children that is based on the person-centered approach is known as child-centered play therapy. This is the general approach to counselling that I use with children.
Cognitive-Behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on how you think about yourself, the world, and other people. CBT is used to help you understand that how you think (cognitive) and what you do (behavior) both have an impact on how you feel. When people suffer from anxiety or depression, they may think about situations in distorted ways as a result of faulty thought processes. CBT strategies challenge these distorted thought processes so that more accurate and appropriate thoughts result, causing more positive feelings.
CBT has some of the strongest evidence as an effective treatment in the field of psychology. It is one of the most effective treatments for conditions where anxiety or depression is the main problem.
Children can be taught to use CBT strategies. Generally, children in Grade 1 can master some of the concepts of CBT and they will become more proficient over time. Preschool children can benefit from CBT as well since play therapy can be adapted to include CBT strategies.
EMDR has been successfully used to treat many problems including anxiety, depression, post trauma reactions and PTSD, and grief. It is used to help reduce the impact of experiences from the past that intrude upon present-day life situations. It is also used to enhance emotional resources such as confidence and self-esteem.
Much has been learned about this therapy since the day it was named for eye movements. Now it appears that the beneficial effects are facilitated by an alternating stimulation of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Eye movements accomplish this, as do bilateral alternating taps or tones, such as light knee, hand or shoulder tapping, or audible tones alternating from one ear to the other.
EMDR was originally designed for adults, but therapists who worked with children developed ways of using EMDR with children. EMDR has been used successfully with children who have experienced a past trauma or who are experiencing a present anxiety. EMDR has also been successfully integrated with play therapy.
To find out more about the services that I offer, please visit my Services page.
Kathy Eugster, MA, RCC, CPT-S
MA, Counselling Psychology
Registered Clinical Counsellor
Certified Play Therapist – Supervisor
Child and Family Therapist
#504 - 1755 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC