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About Psychotherapy

What is Child Psychotherapy?

Child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy, more often known as child psychotherapy, provides a framework for understanding a child's behaviour and interactions as well as being an approach to treatment. It is based on the premise that the things we say and do are determined by our own individual perceptions of the world around us. Child psychotherapists refer to this as our internal world. 

child looking out at the world through their fingers

What does a Child Psychotherapist do?


Child psychotherapists not only consider the external factors that may impact the child or young person, but pay particular attention to how the child perceives events, people and situations in their lives. In this way the child psychotherapist can start to understand the child's behaviour and how they relate to others, helping them make sense of the things they think, feel, say and do.

Children and young people are offered the opportunity to play, draw and talk, as a way of communicating, and the child psychotherapist will explore with them and share their understanding of what is happening in the session as it unfolds. It is a safe and non-judgemental space where the child and therapist can wonder and think about things together.


Psychotherapy sessions are usually once a week on the same day, at the same time and in the same place. This regularity, consistency and continuity is an important part of the therapeutic work. Sessions can be more frequent if needed and treatment can be brief, short or long term.   

young boy playing with toy animals
teen girl talking to therapist

The child psychotherapist can also help parents and other significant adults develop a better understanding of the child's behaviours, difficulties and needs, as well as how to support them.  

What training does a Child Psychotherapist have? 

Child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapists have undertaken extensive training at doctoral level. This includes a 2-3 year pre-clinical programme and at least 4 years treating children with severe and complex mental health needs. They are one of the 12 psychological professions qualified to work in the NHS and registered with the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP). 

Further information:

More information about child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy can be found on the ACP website:

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