In counselling sessions with children and young people we talk, we draw, we create and we play. I see them as a whole person, not just defined by their current issues. So we are also mindful, here’s why….

It keeps the focus on now

If children aren’t aware of their feelings, how can they change? Counselling is about being present, and so is mindfulness. Things might have happened in the past, or they might be worried about something in the future, and that is important. But where are they right now? What impact is that having on them?

It helps to self-regulate emotions

Mindfulness helps children to be aware of their emotions, to observe them and to let them go. In a classroom where a young person feels anxious or sad, the feeling can be overwhelming, distracting and, at worst, damaging. They start to get behind, their confidence is knocked and it all feels too much. Being mindful helps to be aware of the feelings but not engage with them. Imagine your friend trying to get in a fight with you – if you don’t engage with them, you’re in control.

It is a tool for life

Using mindfulness helps with current issues. Take exams for example – we can be caught up in the anxiety and stress, not perform as well as we know we could and suffer the consequences. Or we can acknowledge that we are anxious, be mindful and let it pass. Fast forward a few years to a job interview – normally nerve wracking but you’ve got it covered. Mindfulness is a skill you can use for life.

Anytime, anywhere

There are so many ways to be mindful, it can be done anywhere and at any time. From noticing our breath, being aware of what we can see, hear or feel to being in a counselling session and being able to identify thoughts and feelings. It’s a powerful thing.

So in a counselling session, we work on being mindful. “What is happening in your body right now?” “Where do you feel the sadness?” “How can you let it go?” We become aware of the feelings and we work out ways to manage them. Here’s just one example of how we do it……

Mindfulness bottles

When you are calm and still, you can see more clearly.

Young people love making these (warm water, PVA glue, glitter glue, glitter and food colouring). The glitter represents our thoughts and feelings – when our minds are full of thoughts (swirling the bottle round), this can makes us feel anxious, sad or angry. We then struggle to maintain control. However if we keep the bottle still and watch the glitter (our thoughts and feelings) settle, we can recognise how this helps us to see more clearly. Simple, but hugely effective.