Many parents who have come to the counselling session are prepared to speak with the counsellor to gain some insight into an issue or problem. But some parents do not understand why they need to be involved in the counselling sessions, and others know why, but do not want to be involved.


Some parents are silent, (Ollier, and Hobday, 2001). Maybe their anxiety is due to their fear of being blamed for their child’s behaviour. It is important for the counsellor to explain that if a child does partake in negative behaviour, it is not always because something is happening at home, sometimes the cause can be associated with school or friends and acquaintances. Encourage the parents to work with you to find a solution.


Dependent parents can believe that the counsellor will “fix the problem” or they can become dependent upon meeting with the counsellor because they leave the counsellor feeling positive. Encourage the parent to take responsibility for their decisions, encourage autonomy.


Aggressive parents need a different strategy altogether. Never see these clients late in the afternoon or when you could be in the office alone. Always ensure you have an “emergency exit” plan in place if you find you need to quickly leave the room. If children are present, remove the children saying: “I’ll just take the children out to the play area so we can discuss this matter ourselves”, or something similar.

In separated families, the division of loyalties can be difficult for children to manage. This can often raise issues as to which parent should be involved in the counselling session. Remember, with the use of open questions, empathic responses and the use of solution-focused therapy, the counsellor must always encourage the parents, to move toward working together to promote the best outcome for the child.

Foster carers and adoptive parents will probably never know the full extent of a particular child’s past experiences (Ollier, et. al. 2001). As a significant number of foster care children and adopted children have been abused or neglected, they often suffer emotional disturbances that can cause behavioural problems. Gaining trust with these children is a common problem as many children will spend a lot of energy “testing the waters” to find how their new (foster or adoptive) parents will respond to provocation. This can cause the parents to have feelings of inadequacy.