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Childrens Counselling

Counselling services for Children


What is it?

Counselling services for children provides therapeutic intervention for children up to 13 years old through a range of therapeutic disciplines including Play, Music, Clay or Integrative CYP therapeutic approaches. The children’s counselling typically consists of sessions up to 50-minutes with an average of 6-10 sessions over the course of the counselling process.

The service meets a diverse range of emotional and psychological needs that can be addressed through therapeutic support.  The primary mode of delivery is face-to-face mainly in our Belfast office and in some outreach centres.

Who can we work with?

The counselling services for Children under 10 is available for any child and may be as a direct referral from parents or caregivers or through a third party such as GP, Social Services or other health professional agency. We accept self-funded referrals and also have a number of funded projects which can provide therapy at no cost to the service user.

What usually happens?

Often an initial assessment will be completed with the Childs parent(s), caregiver(s) or legal guardian to determine if this is the most appropriate service for the child. A child under 10 will not usually be able to give informed consent for counselling, so the caregiver will give this on their behalf. However, the child counsellors will assess if the child is willing to engage in counselling support before commencing.

The counsellor will also assess and respond to any risk or concerns around a child’s safety in accordance with Relate NI policy and procedures, which may include reporting safeguarding concerns to an appropriate third party (i.e., Caregiver, GP, PSNI, Social Service).

Child counselling will typically involve using play, art, music, use of clay and other mediums to process any emotional difficulties in a safe and nurturing environment. This often enables children to resolve issues in a way that help them to make sense of or have a new relationship with the problem they bring to counselling. It does not always need to be a conscious process as the child works through their therapy with the therapist.



Common presenting factors and issues to CYP services:

  • Stress, anxiety or depression of the child
  • Behavioural issues of the child
  • Bullying
  • Difficulties in relationships with their peers or siblings
  • Difficulties in school or with teachers
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Social & Emotional development, particularly in conjunction with underlying issues such as Global Developmental Delay, Developmental Trauma, ASD, ADHD etc.
  • Relationship breakdown including parental separation and divorce
  • Bereavement & loss of relationships
  • Adjusting to new family systems and dynamics as a result of new relationships or endings
  • Family Difficulties and/or conflict
  • Adjusting to life transitions and individuation

Key Transition Points affecting children:

  • Leaving home/moving into kinship or care
  • Relationship breakdown or change in a family relationship
  • Bereavement or sudden loss
  • Child developmental stages
  • Moving House/School
  • Adapting to a serious illness or disability

Outcomes of this service:

  • Improvement to initial presenting issue e.g. depression, anxiety, behavioural issues etc.
  • Improvement to functioning impeded by presenting issue e.g. social engagement, communication within relationships, ways of anticipating and managing stresses and difficulties
  • Improved ability to identify and sustain supports, including relationships, as part of ongoing self-care and sense of self-agency
  • Increased sense of resilience to cope with difficulties individually and awareness and implementations of internal & external resources which help to foster resiliency
  • Increased awareness and understanding of the impact of individual choices and sense of control in their life
  • Improved wellbeing and greater sense of self-esteem/self-worth and self-acceptance



"The Relate NI Counsellor who sees my daughter is amazing. I'm so glad to have her in our lives."


"I'm thankful for Relate NI for a good nights sleep"


Download "Relieve the Pressure on Children & Young People" Digital Resource 





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