Children’s Counseling :: What It’s Like According to Kids


A little girl covers her eyes.

For the current generation of kids, I am grateful for the miles we’ve come in mental health. Open discussions and empathy create space for families to come forward and receive help. Resources and experts are available, both locally (like Cook Children’s Rees-Jones Behavioral Center) and nationally (like The National Council for Mental Wellbeing). The marriage of conversation and information is breaking new ground and allowing children to be cared for in a better way than when we were kids.

>> RECOMMENDED RESOURCE :: Expert Panel Discussion on Children’s Mental Health {Resources Included} <<

I am a child of the ’80s. Mental health awareness was not part of the narrative back then. Conversations about counseling were rare. They were hushed and had an air of taboo.

What does the process of counseling look like from the perspective of today’s kid? What could be gained if we gave kids the floor and let them talk about their experiences? With permission from parents and child, I interviewed three young “counseling experts.” These kids have done the brave work of improving their own mental health.

I talked with Aiden, 11, Caroline, 10, and Hadley, nine. My hope is their reflections can serve as a guide to parents who are unfamiliar with or beginning the journey of counseling for their child. Consider it an insider’s scoop of sorts. 

What was your first thought or feeling when someone brought up the idea of you seeing a counselor?

“I was nervous and confused because I didn’t know what it meant or what it was going to be like.”— Aiden

“I felt kind of angry because I felt like I didn’t need counseling.” — Caroline

“I didn’t feel comfortable about it. I felt more comfortable talking to my parents.” — Hadley

Was counseling something that was openly talked about in your home before you went?

“Yes, but I still didn’t know what it really was other than just talking with someone.” — Aiden

“Yes. My brother went.” — Caroline

“No. We didn’t talk about it at home.” — Hadley

>> LISTEN :: Mom & Mental Health :: Momfessions Podcast :: Episode 41 <<

Share a little about what brought you to counseling.

“I was in third grade, and I was struggling with school. I felt so much pressure, and I doubted my ability to learn new things. It was the first year I was going to take the STAAR test. Every day, my teachers were talking about this big test over and over. I started to hate going to school because I was afraid that I wasn’t going to pass the test.” — Aiden

“I was having a hard time communicating my feelings well to other people without getting physical.” — Caroline

“I was working through worry. It was a lot of worry.” — Hadley

Can you remember your first visit to your counselor?

“My counselor was very nice, and we played lots of card games. She let me talk freely and sometimes she would ask me questions to get me to talk about how I was feeling.” — Aiden

“There were lots of fidget toys, and those helped me. Also, the counselor was super nice, and she really made me feel like I could talk about anything. I could let all my emotions out and soar free.” — Caroline

“I liked how much she liked art, and that she was very kind. She wasn’t surprised. I didn’t feel guilty about the things I talked about.” — Hadley

Are there places in your everyday life where you noticed things start to improve with counseling?

“After I started counseling, the problem was identified, and I started working on it. I did feel a lot less stressed when my teachers would introduce new concepts.” — Aiden

“I’ve definitely seen improvement because I used to get physical, and now I gently express my emotions by saying ‘No, sorry’ or ‘Please, stop.’ I’ve definitely gotten better.”  — Caroline

“When I worry or get mad now, I can be a little calmer. I take breaths and use other tricks she’s taught me. When I’m with my friends, my mind doesn’t worry now.”— HadleyA young girl tosses a red frisbee in the air.

If you had a friend struggling with something that could be helped with counseling, how would you encourage him or her to go?

“I would tell them I also have feelings like that sometimes, so they do not feel alone.”  —Aiden

“I would say, ‘It’s okay. The counselors are always going to be nice.'” — Caroline

“Counselors are always really nice, and they’re always really helpful if you’re worrying. They’re never really surprised.” — Hadley

>> RELATED READ :: How to Help a Mother Who Had to Admit Her Child to a Mental Hospital <<

Any advice for parents thinking of having their kid see a counselor?

“If you think there is something your kid is struggling with, like anxiety, why not just get them someone to talk to? Sometimes it’s hard to talk to people you know because you may be afraid that they won’t understand. I started counseling not even knowing what it was, but now I still use the things I learned to help keep my fear and anxiety under control.” — Aiden

“Maybe parents could tell their kids that a lot of people go to counseling. Approach counseling calmly.” — Hadley

Normalizing children’s counseling in your home can play a key role in approaching your child with mental health help. Recognizing that it’s not just okay, but good to ask for help from a professional can be one of the best gifts you give your child.

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Ashley is from Hurst, and though she’s flown the nest a few times now, she always seems to boomerang right back to her hometown. Her latest stint took her family to Chicago for the last four years. While Ashley, her husband of almost 16 years, her son and daughter loved life as honorary Midwesterners, Texas called, and it was time to answer. Though her children are in upper elementary school, Ashley found her groove as a stay-at-home mom and is not eager to give up the title quite yet. You can find her putting in the miles all over town with her “doggy clients” as a Rover walker and caregiver. (Dogs talk back less than children.) Ashley is often the loudest mom at the ball fields but comes in peace with the best snacks. She recharges with a run around Hurst, a ride on that stationary bike everyone’s talking about, or on a patio with a margarita and her very funny husband. Ashley has written for local mom groups, church and is a returning writer for Fort Worth Moms. Her husband hopes she will stick to more pieces on motherhood and less on disappointing stays at grimy hotels.


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