Steps in Counseling Bipolar Children

When your child is undergoing bipolar counseling it can be a difficult time, both for you and your child. You may be left wondering just what the therapist is up to and why your child loves him one week and hates him the next. You may also wonder why some sessions seem to be very focused on dealing with your child’s problems, while others appear to be nothing more than casual chit-chat. To better understand the bipolar counseling process, it is helpful to know that there are three main components of bipolar counseling: building rapport, modeling assertiveness, and integrating polarities.

Before the therapist can really begin to help, he or she must first build a rapport with your child. This is unlikely to happen quickly. Most children who enter bipolar counseling have difficulty trusting others with their emotions. The counselor or therapist may talk with your child at length about things which seemingly have nothing to do with bipolar counseling, such as the child’s pets or favorite toys, the type of music they enjoy, what they did last Saturday and other “safe” topics that will allow the therapist to build a rapport with your child.

It is also vital that the therapist model assertiveness during bipolar counseling. What this means is that even when a rapport has been established, the child must understand that the therapist is in control of the situation. An effective therapist cannot give in to a child’s unreasonable demands, no matter how angry or upset the child becomes. Because the bipolar counseling process can sometimes be stressful, difficult and overwhelming for your child, it is likely that at some point they will direct their anger toward the therapist. When this happens, the therapist must maintain control and model assertiveness for the child.

Finally, in bipolar counseling the therapist will always be working toward the goal of integrating polarities. In other words, the goal is to help your child learn how to recognize and deal with the opposite “poles” of his or her personality. Although this process will not eliminate bipolar disorder or all of the behaviors associated with it, it will give your child the tools he or she needs to cope with opposing desires.

Staying involved with your child’s bipolar counseling is the best way to minimize concerns over the process. If you have questions, or wonder if progress is being made, simply ask your child’s therapist. He or she should be glad to explain the process and where your child is at in that process.

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