Monday, July 6, 2009


Counselors should be aware of the difference in counseling on every stage level of clients but the main and common need is empathizing with them. Perhaps the most important distinction between the child and the adult clients is that children with difficulties rarely seek help themselves. Rather, they are typically referred for help by concerned others, usually the child’s family or teachers (Elliott, 1998).

Both child and adolescent need specific directions during counseling and if a child has difficulty or rarely seeking help themselves, adolescents has challenge on its own. Adolescence is a time of physiological, cognitive and psychological changes and adolescents need time to understand and integrate all the enormous changes taking place in the period between childhood and adulthood (Bor, 2002).

So, the key is how we communicate and pattern the language towards the level or current stage of our client. For instance, we communicate playfully with a child but doing this with an adolescent maybe affront to a teen client.

Counselors reflect the content of a client’s communications in order to convey an understanding of material explicitly expressed. With adult clients, this translates into reflecting the verbal message communicated. Because children’s content may be expressed in actions or play, the counselor working with children must add behavioral tracking to his or her repertoire (van Velsor, 2004).


For instance, Romeo (16 years old, Asian-American with Filipino accent) and Jules (4 years old, Hindu with dark skin complexion) are both suffering from mild depression due to divorce of their parents and racial discrimination or being outcast by their peers due to their obvious ethnic difference. As counselor, we convey our condolences to them more descriptively yet sensitively to Jules. We acknowledge and impart the same message both on empathetic tone and attentive yet more ingenuous and trusting with Jules either through story or maybe one of Jules favorite toy or animation. In case of Romeo, using a Lego toy may not be effective but treating Romeo as an adult maybe more appropriate.

Counselors can enhance their skill with children by adapting their use of microskills. Useful changes include the addition of behavioral tracking to counselor skill repertoires
and attention to the feelings communicated through the characters in children’s play (van Velsor, 2004, p 217).


Romeo and Jules perhaps are suffering from low self-esteem and they need to be recognized. The divorce maybe the main reason for their counseling but underlying their pain is their suffering from ethnic confusion. As counselors, culture should always be part of every session. A clear, strong sense of ethnic identity is often associated with high levels of self-esteem and psychological functioning. Our task as therapists is to be vigilant for the signs of distress influenced by struggles with racism and ethnic identity. Giving these sometimes silent struggles a voice in adolescent therapy when they are evident to us and, to a large extent, to the adolescent initiates an inquiry that can be instructive and emancipative (Zayas, 2001)


Bor, R. (2002). Counseling in Schools. London, GBR: Sage Publications Ltd, p 22. Retrieved January 8, 2009, from

Elliott, J. (1998). Children in Difficulty : A Guide to Understanding and Helping.
Florence, KY, USA: Routledge, 1998. p 10. Retrieved January 8, 2009, from

Luis H Zayas (2001). Incorporating struggles with racism and ethnic identity in therapy with adolescents. Clinical Social Work Journal, 29(4), 361-373. Retrieved January 8, 2009, from ProQuest Psychology Journals database. (Document ID: 95852058).

van Velsor, P. (2004). Revisiting Basic Counseling Skills With Children. Journal of Counseling & Development, 82(3), 313-318. Retrieved January 8, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.
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