counselling for children

counselling for children

The Child Psychologists and Counsellors at River’s Edge know that what parents most want for their kids is to be happy and healthy. They work closely with parents to understand what is developmentally normal for kids, identify areas of concern and find solutions that help kids thrive.

Our therapists use play therapy (including sand tray) and other therapies that help them connect with kids and develop trusting relationships, in a peaceful and caring environment. They work from a family-centered perspective, understanding that for kids to do well, parents and caregivers also need support and the right tools to meet their needs.

We also provide a full suite of child assessments and tests including specialized reading assessments.

Child Counselling can Help Kids:

  • Strengthen resiliency and coping through tough times

  • Learn how to regulate emotions (happy, mad, sad, worried, etc.)

  • Heal from trauma

  • Improve self-esteem

  • Develop better relationships with peers and siblings

  • Work through experiences of grief and loss

Child Counselling can Help Parents:

  • Understand the emotional needs of a child who is struggling

  • More effectively deal with behavior challenges

  • Support children facing transition or loss

  • Advocate for their child’s best interest at school

  • Improve sibling relationships

  • Introduce and support new coping strategies

Signs that Your Child May Need Help

  • Delay in developmental milestones

  • Abnormal amount of anger, temper tantrums, acting out, bed-wetting or changes in eating habits

  • Changes in academic or athletic performance

  • Child appears sad more than normal or has large swings in mood

  • Child isn’t social, or sees a change in social behavior

  • Changes in activities they once loved

  • Aggressive behavior

  • Changes in sleep patterns

  • Complains of: headache, stomachache, or not feeling well despite being healthy

  • Major changes to family life – i.e., divorce, re-marriage or death

  • Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse


what is play therapy?

Children and adults experience the world and express themselves in very different ways. An adult’s natural form of expression is language, while children’s natural form of expression is play. Play is important to the development of children in many ways, including facilitating logical memory, abstract thinking, emotional regulation, mastery of language, and physical and motor development. 

Play therapy helps children to: 

•    explore emotions
•    identify and work through challenging experiences
•    organize thoughts
•    nurture mastery and resilience
•    improve relational abilities
•    make sense of self, other and the world, through the use of metaphor and symbol

Play therapy can help children work through many issues, including: 

•    difficult emotions, such as anger, worry and anxiety
•    grief and loss
•    divorce and separation
•    blended family adjustment
•    bullying
•    emotional regulation
•    problems relating to peers or siblings
•    trauma
•    self-identity and self-esteem

Play therapists are trained to work with children from a developmental perspective to identify themes in the children’s play, and then to creatively work with different interventions (puppets, sand, clay, games, books, art) to help the child work towards resolution and healing. 

At River's edge Counselling Centre, our child therapists understand the unique ways in which children process experiences and information, and how play can be used to help children to heal and grow. 

Our playroom is fully equipped with a sandtray, art materials, therapeutic toys and board games. Our approach is to work with children from a holistic perspective in a safe, respectful environment. Caregivers are always included in the process and are considered essential to a child’s therapeutic success. When required, other helpers (doctors, teachers) may be included in the therapeutic process. Our experience has shown that therapy is most successful on a long term basis when parents and guardians are actively involved in the process. 

To start counselling now:

Group Programs for Children

Child Parent Relationship Training

resources for counselling for children

meet our child counsellors

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Christine Crocker
As a Registered Psychologist trained in Marriage and Family Therapy, I believe that relationships are central to the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities... read more
Christine Crocker is a Registered Psychologist who has been providing services to families, couples and individuals since 2007, both in private practice and for agencies. Christine has a Masters in Science in Marital and Family Therapy through Loma Linda University and a Bachelor of Science Specialization awarded from the University of Alberta. Christine holds membership in good standing with the College of Alberta Psychologists (Reg# 3311) and the Psychologist Association of Alberta. Christine Crocker Full Bio

Lori Tiemer
I have experience working with children as young as 3 years of age as well parents/caregivers seeking to improve child-parent attachment... read more
Children’s natural method of communication is through play and, within the context of a safe and healing therapeutic relationship, they can express their emotions and move towards resolving the concerns they are experiencing in various ways that may include the use of toys, sand, music, and/or art. Although much of my time will be spent with the child individually (if the child is comfortable with that) the parent(s)/caregiver(s), play an invaluable role in the therapeutic process and you be given regular opportunities to discuss any questions or concerns as well as provide updates as to how your child is doing outside of therapy. I have participated in training related to child trauma, art therapy, and child-centered play therapy. I also have training and experience in providing child-parent relationship training (CPRT) where I work with parents and caregivers. Lori's Full Bio

Lindsey McColl
I work with children as young as four years old, primarily through play and hands-on activities... read more
With this age range, I work closely with caregivers to support development and behaviour. I also work with parents on topics such as building relationships and parenting. “Why follow a child’s lead? That’s our ultimate goal for entering their shared world- to help them be empathetic, creative, logical, reflective individuals” – Dr. Stanley Greenspan Lindsey 's Full Bio

Charlene Remenda-Madra
Charlene is passionate about working with children and helping them to feel better inside. Her work often involves helping children to: feel more calm, heal from adverse events, overcome the difficulty that may have brought them into therapy, gain tools for coping, regain their sense of inner strength, and to deepen their emotional connection with the people who matter most people in their lives... read more
Charlene has experience working with children, adolescents and families on the Children’s Team at St. Albert Mental Health as well as in elementary schools and private practice settings. She received play therapy training at the Rocky Mountain Play Therapy Institute in Calgary, AB and has continued her education through attending numerous multi-day play therapy trainings in the areas of therapeutic play, attachment and sand-tray work. Her approach with children is play-based, strength-focused and driven by an attachment focus. Charlene works from directive and non-directive approaches to meet the needs of each unique child. Charlene has had the pleasure of training with such experts in the field as Dr. Gary Landreth and Liana Lowenstein. She is a past Board Member of the Alberta Play Therapy Association (APTA). Charlene's Full Bio

Petrina Runke
Childhood is a time of wonder, exploration, and discovery. When children cannot express verbally what is causing them to feel distressed, we might see increased acting-out behaviours, regression, withdrawal, or drastic mood changes... read more
This can cause frustration, worry, and feelings of helplessness for parents. I work with children ages 5 and up, and use play-based strategies to help children express their inner thoughts and feelings through developmentally appropriate means. I engage children at their level, and focus on creating a safe, secure therapeutic relationship to facilitate healing. I work closely with parents or caregivers during this process, to ensure that they have the support, information and tools they need to best meet the needs of their child.Petrina's Full Bio

Marti Lysek-Behiels
I am a Registered Psychologist with the College of Alberta Psychologists and a member of the Psychologists Association of Alberta. I have worked with children, adolescents, adults, families and couples in a variety of settings including non for profit and school settings... read more
I work with children using the PACE (playfulness, acceptance, curiosity and empathy) approach. I incorporate art, mindfulness and Theraplay techniques in order to support children to express and to process how they are feeling, and to guide them to better regulate their emotions and to manage their behavior for their developmental age. Marti's Full Bio

Andrea Thrall
Working with children is both a joy and an honour for me. With many years’ experience supporting families and providing counselling to children within an elementary school setting, I offer a broad framework for understanding the unique needs of children... read more
I believe that children thrive when they have a secure, healthy attachment to their caregivers. Because of this belief, my therapeutic work with children often includes a combination of parental support and individual, play-based therapy. I also incorporate a variety of mindfulness, play and art-based strategies to encourage children to become more aware of, and better able to manage, their feelings. Andrea's Full Bio

Ramona Kotke Gapp
I have experience working with children individually and in groups, and have treated a variety of issues such as trauma, grief, ADHD, autism, anxiety, depression, low self esteem, and social skills deficits. I believe that the parents are the child’s first best teachers and as such they are an integral part of the child’s ongoing more
I believe that children thrive when they have a secure, healthy attachment to their caregivers. Because of this belief, my therapeutic work with children often includes a combination of parental support and individual, play-based therapy. I also incorporate a variety of mindfulness, play and art-based strategies to encourage children to become more aware of, and better able to manage, their feelings. Ramona's Full Bio

Lisa McMorrow
There’s joy and wonder everywhere when you see the world in the eyes of a child.” My work with children involves exploring difficulties they may have with anxiety, depression, grief and loss as well as more
I facilitate change by supporting their creativity, self-understanding and exploration of their world through therapeutic play and relationship. In addition to a therapeutic relationship with the child I also work collaboratively with their caregivers to help strengthen the relationship and connection between adult and child. Lisa's Full Bio

Dr. Olive Okraku
I have experience with children in community settings, schools and in hospitals. My work involved working collaboratively with families, teachers, and physicians. In my practice with children, I conduct initial assessments and gather information from both parent and more
Depending on the presenting concerns, I often engage parents in psychoeducation on behavioral principles (e.g. reinforcement) as well as equipping parents with behavioral skills to implement. I use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with children which is tailored to their developmental level. I also incorporate non-directive play with children between ages 3-10 years. I believe that while adults use language to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs, children use play as their form of language to communicate their needs. My focus is to develop and create a feeling of safety and permissiveness in the relationship in order for the child to feel free to explore and express him/herself completely. I engage in unqualified acceptance which enables the child to develop self-understanding, acceptance, regulate emotions and problem-solving skills. I also use emotionally focused coaching with parents which are effective for healthy interactions, foster trust, and safety in parent-child relationships. Dr. Olive's Full Bio

Audrey Stevenson
Children heal and grow within a safe and nurturing relationship. Often children are not able to verbally express what is troubling them and will act out, withdraw, or show drastic changes in their mood and more
I use techniques in pay therapy, art therapy, sand tray therapy and mindfulness to help them work through what is distressing them, verbally or non-verbally. I encourage a high level of involvement from caregivers to help facilitate this change and growth. I also work with caregivers on self-care, parenting skills and growing their parent-child relationship. Audrey's Full Bio

the right fit

At River’s Edge Counselling Centre, we work with each new client to ensure they are matched to the right therapist. See how we do it: