Relationship with the Child/Young Person

General Overview of Training: Extract from the draft framework for minimum professional standards for psychotherapists working with children/young people


The Working Group wish to emphasise at the outset the centrality of the therapeutic relationship when working with children/young people and their families and the importance of the availability of the therapist for a genuine congruent relationship. This ability to form a therapeutic working relationship with children is a key skill and needs to be complemented by therapist competence in the areas of training outlined below.

The trainee psychotherapist needs to develop the competence to take into account the developmental stage of the child or young person they are working with. They should also take cognisance of the young person’s level of dependence and their need for appropriate care. All of these aspects are important considerations to be taken into account in order to develop a comprehensive and collaborative understanding of the child’s therapeutic needs. The child’s or young person’s voice is central to the therapeutic process and in order for their voice to be heard it is important that the psychotherapist can deploy a variety of therapeutic approaches including verbal and nonverbal methods along with appropriate materials to facilitate the child or young person’s engagement in the therapy process. An important element, therefore in therapy with children is skilful use of developmentally appropriate approaches and materials in order to assist the young person in being heard. All of the above address the requirement for psychotherapy with young people and children to be inclusive and respectful and to privilege children’s ways of expressing themselves. Alongside working therapeutically with children/young people the therapist must work in partnership with parents/carers and guardians of the young person. Each modality will approach the necessary training to work with parents differently. Some may view the primary client as the child/young person while others will consider child focussed therapy as happening within the family system where the family is the client rather than the individual child. Some modalities will attend more to the intra psychic world of the child while others will attend more to the relational aspects of children’s lives and experiences. All of the above aspects need to be taken into account at each stage of the therapeutic process all the way from assessment to the end of therapy.

In addition the psychotherapist needs to develop competence in managing the diverse roles of different members of any multi-disciplinary team and/or other systems of professionals that may be involved in the child’s or young person’s life. The therapist should be able to take cognisance of and work with the multiple perspectives and approaches of other professionals in order to work collaboratively with children/young people, their family and any involved health or social care systems.


  1. Theory of methods, relevant theorists, and theories of human development
  2. Methodology and Clinical Skills
  3. Professional Context
  4. Settings and Populations
  5. Clinical Practice under Supervision
  6. Post Training


To be ECP compliant any core training whether for child psychotherapists or a combined adult and child training will need to be of 4 years duration. All courses will provide tutor student contact hours wholly devoted to child psychotherapy to cover the specified theory and methodology studies detailed in areas 1 – 4 above, as well as the specific clinical components of any such training, as appropriate to the modality.

In addition it is envisaged that any post qualification course will require an additional two years of training in order to adequately cover areas 1 – 4 above as well as the specific clinical components of any such training.  These post qualification courses must include 250 tutor student contact hours wholly devoted to child psychotherapy to cover the specified theory and methodology studies detailed in areas 1 – 4 above. In addition such a post qualification course the supervised practice component needs to include 250 hours of clinical practice with children/young people and their carers. The ratio of practice to supervision will be in keeping with the modality and the need to give consideration to the vulnerable population being worked with. In post qualification training some of these hours of clinical practice may be attained during a specified post-course practicum period in keeping with modality practices.