When you're waiting for help for your young person

It is extremely difficult when you seek help for your infant, child, adolescent and whānau and find that the support you want is not there.  Mental heath services in Aotearoa New Zealand are stretched, and it be hard to even get an initial appointment in the private system, let alone the public system.

From time to time I need close my practice for new clients because there is only one of me and I can't possibly see all the clients that I would like to.  So I wanted to provide some information that might help while you are waiting.

I don't want to re-write all the information that you can already access online, so I'll just provide here some more personalised recommendations that come from a psychotherapeutic lens.

Risky behaviours- if your young person is harming themselves (eg cutting, substance abuse) or you are concerned otherwise about their safety or mental state, please go in the first instance to your GP.  In an emergency, dial 111, or access one of the crisis services here. Remain available for your young person, be curious about their experience, and don't panic.

Other therapists- You might find some other therapists who can see you quicker than I can.  You can find other child psychotherapists at Emily MurrayJasmine Sawyers MullenI am Hope, Auckland Therapy, Totally PsychedNZACAP and Robert St Clinic.

Parent and family coaches- Parent and family coaches work with parents to provide empathy, support and practical solutions to all kinds of parenting situations.   I recommend the coaches at Parenting Place and Good to Great Parenting.

Parenting Place also offer a range of parenting courses and events.

Resources- there is a wealth on resources for parents and young people at Kia Mau Te Ora from the University of Auckland

Anxiety- children, young people and parents are reporting increased levels of anxiety.  Anxiety is a normal emotional response but sometimes the symptoms can get in the way of life.  Many anxious children can be helped by parents and professional support is not required. This resource was created for teachers by the Anna Freud Centre for 11 to 13 years old but is good for years above and below depending on the child, and can be used by parents.    I also find the book Hey Warrior by Karen Young to be a good book for four to 12 year-olds.

Online support for young people- rangatahi might like to try www.auntydee.co.nz or look at the resources on www.youthline.co.nz.  School counsellors and nurses can be helpful too.

Support for your young children- ZERO TO THREE has some great resources for growing children from birth to three years old.  The Infant Mental Health Association of Aotearoa NZ has some good resources too.

Books for parents- If you like to get information from books, I recommend Reflective Parenting by Alistair Cooper and Shelia Redfern, and Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel J Siegel and Mary Hartzell.  These are good for all ages.

10 minutes a day- spend 10 minutes a day with your young person with no expectation nor desire, no teaching, directing or judging.  The purpose is for you and your child to experience each other in relationship.  Let them choose the activity and you participate as you are led by them.  It can be harder than you might think- you might need to play minecraft, play in a sand pit or read a book alongside.  It could be a drive to the local bubble tea shop and back.  It can be boring, frustrating, fun, predictable, exciting, disappointing or none of those things.  Your child might not say anything.  That's OK. Every session won't be earth shattering, but do it anyway, consistently.

Connect- with nature, culture and extended family.  With your child if they are willing, or on your own.  Talking to other parents can be tremendously supportive too.

Support yourself- a key job of parents and caregivers is co-regulation of emotion.  It's like lending your mind to your child to help them through, and it's very hard work.   If your child is having a stressful time, review your own stress levels, talk to friends, or whatever makes you feel good (within reason!).  Connect with people in your church, school, community and workplace.


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