Frances likes to carry out a full assessment before working with a child, covering such issues as social circumstances, developmental history, progress at school, family background and so on, to get as full a picture of the child and their family as possible, and to rule out the possibility that the current difficulty is as a result of something that individual counselling or group therapy may not be able to help with, e.g. learning difficulties or a specific medical condition. Should this be the case, she will refer a child to someone more appropriately qualified to meet their needs.
At least one parent/carer, or a social worker, needs to be present with a child or young person for their assessment. In cases where parents are no longer together, and do not wish to attend the assessment together, Frances will invite whichever parent does not live with the child to attend a separate appointment or have a telephone consultation with her. Sometimes the assessment will indicate that a child’s difficulties may be part of wider issues that affect the whole family. In such circumstances Frances may see the child for individual work initially and then see parents/carers separately, where appropriate, to enable them to work on their own issues which may be affecting their child’s situation e.g. unresolved grief/anger following a divorce or bereavement or a need to develop new parenting strategies. Alternatively, she can see children with their parents/carers and/or other family members for family therapy sessions.