Counseling for Children

Counseling for Children – What You Need To Know

It’s common for children who have been sexually abused to react in different ways

Some children withdraw, others have outbursts of strong emotions, and sometimes there are behaviors that are challenging or hard to understand.  Sometimes these patterns overlap.  As an important adult in the child’s life, it’s vital that you actively listen and respond in ways that the child knows that you believe him or her.  We coach family members to practice patience, and – over time – learn more about how kids and families deal with (and heal from) sexual abuse.

Needs of children who have been abused

  • To be told that the abuse was not their fault and they did nothing wrong: over and over again.
  • To be believed and reassured that they were right to tell.
  • To be informed of what will happen next: use language and information that the child understands.
  • To receive support and love.
  • To be assessed for counseling.

Please refer to Support Services for Parents, Care Givers, and Loved Ones for more information.

About our Children’s Services

We provide free counseling services for girls and boys (ages 2+) who have been sexually abused, as well as for kids who might have been abused or are otherwise interested in learning about safe touch and personal boundaries. Our Master’s level Counselors have received specialized training in helping kids heal from the effects of sexual abuse.

WOAR provides individual (1:1) counseling sessions for children that are approximately 50 minutes long and occur once a week.

WOAR also provides peer support groups specific to the age of the child that are approximately 60 to 90 minutes long and occur once a week. If you are your child is interested in participating in one of the following peer support groups, please call (215) 985-3333 to complete a client intake.  

Our Children’s Support Groups:

  • Building Blocks for ages 3 to 6 years old.
  • Stepping Stones for ages 7 to 12 years old
  • Teen Group for ages 13 to 17 years old

Calling WOAR’s Hotline at 215-985-3333 is the best way to learn more about currently available services.

Our approach to helping children is “kid-friendly”, especially for the younger children, and features therapeutic uses of play, imagination, and activities.

As the child’s sense of trust and safety are established, the sessions gradually focus on the child’s experience and understanding of not only the sexual abuse, but also on healthy aspects of expressing and exploring emotions, practicing how to manage powerful feelings and urges, as well as promoting healthy perspectives of trust, touch, body awareness, boundaries, and getting along with others.

We expect the child’s primary caregiver – whether a parent or significant other – to participate in counseling.  Since we usually see the child just once a week, collaboration and cooperation with the caregiver are very valuable. The Counselor may ask the caregiver to join part of the child’s 1:1 session and also may give ‘home study’ assignments for the caregiver and child to work on together (like reading and talking about a story, or doing a simple art project). In our Building Blocks and Stepping Stone groups, the caregiver and child participate in all the sessions together. This is helpful both for the child and the caregiver.

For more information see Support Services for Parents, Care Givers, and Loved Ones and What Is Childhood Sexual Assault?.