Process Oriented Child Psychotherapy

'The Edge of Potential' is an important concept in Process Oriented Psychology (developed by Dr Arnold Mindell). At our 'Edges' there is often disturbance, but also there is diversity and potential. Processwork finds a young person's potential within disturbance, finding the solution within the problem.

Process oriented psychology/psychotherapy works with feedback and awareness. Feedback is fundamental to parent/child attunement which is central to how a child learns about themselves and the world around them. Following feedback means that interventions flow from the way children and families behave and communicate from moment to moment. The awareness of feedback can help parents and children deal with complex feelings and experiences.

Process oriented therapy can be applied across a wide range of child and family experiences, from parent/child attunement, to supporting children and young people in their development and dealing with transitions, conflicts, and discovering how to live from their full potential. This work has been applied to bullying, abuse and trauma, leadership and empowerment, working with anger and violence, and with many mental health difficulties.

Process Oriented Child Psychotherapy can help children, teenagers, parent/carers and families with challenges including:

  • Childhood trauma (also parental trauma)
  • Attachment difficulties
  • Violence and rage
  • Individuation and autonomy
  • Mental health difficulties
  • Nightmares and sleep difficulties
  • Somatic symptoms with a psychological basis
  • Supporting parents, carers (and corporate parents)
  • Process Oriented Family Work/Therapy
  • Complex difficulties associated with adoption, care or other family dynamics
  • Diversity issues such as; non-goal oriented approaches around gender and sexual orientation, issues with identity, xenophobia and marginalisation of many kinds
  • Rank and power – a particular interest in raising awareness around rank/power issues for children and families

How it Works

However young people are behaving they are communicating, not just through their voice but also through their behaviour. And behind these behaviours are the childs deeper needs. Processwork involves attuning to the needs of a young person and how these are expressed through their signals and behaviours. The aim is to engage with the young person in ways which give 'positive feedback' or resonate positively with who they are. Particularly when they have had bad experiences or their development has been disrupted, some children don’t yet know what they think or feel, and through bringing awareness and curiousity to their experiences, and helping parents, teachers and carers to do so also, a child can begin to become warmer and more interested in themselves and who they are.

The aim is to follow the young person's (or family's) process, helping them to live and express their nature like a plant or flower, rather than to fix them or to make them fit into our own expectations. But this is also about helping the young person to live a successful life in a world of influences and pressures. Environments and the circle of relationships around children are also really important, so we approach peer relationships, families, schools and professional services in a similar way, bringing awareness to how we communicate and interact and the impact this has on children and young people.

The awareness of the subtleties of rank and power can really help children to discover their own powers and become more aware of using them effectively. For example; physical power, the power of emotions, the social rank and power of teachers and parents, and also the powers which young people have in relation to adults. Even playfulness and creativity are important powers. Unconscious power can be very toxic, but powers of all kinds used with awareness can enhance children’s lives and the communities they live in.

Parents carers and corporate parents – In fact any adult may be important in a child’s life, modelling and respectfully interacting effectively with children. Validating the child’s experience, noticing the child’s capabilities and holding boundaries with a respectful use of power and good communication. Children and young people dealing with particularly painful or disturbing experiences may often externalise their conflicts upon those closest to them. There is here an enhanced parental role of noticing when this is happening and ‘digesting’ or ‘processing’ the difficulty such that it can be given back to the child in a digestible form.

Process Oriented Child Psychotherapy offers particular skills and innerwork for parents to pick up this unique responsibility for those they care for, but also for parents and carers to look after themselves at the same time. Innerwork is an area which is not yet greatly appreciated in how we support and teach children. Building the capacity to notice and unfold what is going on inside.

Process oriented approaches are very close to mindfulness approaches in this area, bringing the child’s awareness to themselves, to their body, their feelings, their imagination and intuitive and common senses. Process work helps a child to follow their own inner feedback and to learn to trust themselves, while at the same time dealing with inner barriers and blocks. *Process Oriented Psychology was developed by Dr Arnold Mindell and international colleagues.