Counselling Dilemma: Supporting an Anxious Child
Charlotte is 11. She has been brought along to counselling by her mother, Fran. According to Fran, Charlotte has always been a “quiet and shy” girl. Fran remarks that she is not surprised by this as she too was a reserved and anxious child. In recent weeks however, Fran has noticed that Charlotte has become increasingly withdrawn. Charlotte becomes particularly upset before school and cries that she does not want to go. This is a new behaviour for Charlotte, who previously enjoyed school and excelled in class.
Fran is aware that Charlotte has recently become a part of program at school called, “Out of Our Shells”. This series of classes is designed to build children’s self-confidence. This program encourages participants to engage in activities that they would ordinarily shy away from, such as public speaking, approaching new people and standing up for one’s self. As well-intended as the program may be, Fran is worried that it has pushed Charlotte well beyond her comfort zone and is triggering anxiety.
In counselling you discuss the program with Charlotte and discover Fran’s assumption is correct. Charlotte is so worried about the activities she is expected to do as a part of “Out of Our Shells” that she has become anxious about attending school all together. Fran is eager for Charlotte to work on her self-confidence and assertiveness. Charlotte too indicates she would like help in those areas, but she begs to be excused from the “Out of Our Shells” program.
Charlotte’s father (Bill) is, however, adamant that Charlotte stay in the program. He feels it will be the quickest, most effective way to build her self-confidence. Charlotte’s teacher also highly recommends Charlotte continue with the program. Both Bill and Charlotte’s teacher are of the opinion that in a short amount of time, Charlotte will feel much more comfortable with the activities and enjoy the sense of accomplishment the program will give.
As Charlotte’s counsellor, how would you proceed?