Case Study – Emily aged 6

Emily was six years old when she was brought for counselling by her parents. Her behaviour had recently changed after she watched her Mother having a sudden miscarriage. Her parents separated following the loss of the baby. Emily started to have angry outbursts at home and was physically aggressive towards her mother and her siblings. Following these outbursts she would often bite herself and sometimes harmed herself by pulling out her hair. At school Emily found it difficult to mix with other children and was described as ‘difficult’ by her teacher.

When Emily came for counselling she was able to express her anger in a safe environment in a variety of ways by playing with the toys, drawing and telling stories with the puppets. She also used the sessions to talk about how lonely she felt at school and the counsellor helped her to learn how to take turns and play with someone else. Emily chose to use role play with dolls to reenact the miscarriage she saw her Mother have and in doing so she was able to feel and express the shock and sadness she had kept inside.

By the end of the counselling sessions Emily was no longer harming herself when angry as she had learned different ways of managing her feelings through the sessions. She was able to get on with her siblings much better and any outbursts were now at a normal sibling level. However, the thing that Emily felt happiest about was having friends to play with at school and she was delighted to have been invited to another child’s birthday party, which was a first!