Adult Consultations – Client Example – Linda, sought help to explore how to support her son, Charlie (16 years) following a recent disclosure about bullying at school.


Linda was recently informed by Charlie’s school that one of his teachers had witnessed him being physically targeted by a group of his peers. It emerged that Charlie had been targeted, intermittently, by this group for several years and he had not told anyone about it.

Charlie had started to talk to a school counsellor. However, Linda was feeling shut out by Charlie. He was angry, not talking to her and was isolating himself in his room. Linda was worried about him and she was also feeling guilty that she had not suspected there was a problem.

How many consultations and who attended?

Linda had two consultation sessions.

What did we do in the consultations?

  1. Explored impact on Linda – We explored how Linda had been activated, understanding what was causing her distress and feelings of helplessness, guilt and fear. When we explored some of Linda’s earlier experiences, we understood why she felt so overwhelmed by what had happened to Charlie. Linda began to have more understanding and compassion for herself and Charlie. Linda also made some changes including pulling back from a friendship with a mother of one of the boys who had been targeting Charlie.
  2. Explored patterns of communication – We explored the ways in which family members tended to communicate with and support one another, particularly with regard to challenges and difficulties. We considered what has worked for the family in the past and what strengths they had to draw on. We looked at small changes that could be introduced which had a big impact.
  3. Explored impact on Charlie – including how he may be perceiving the support offered to him. This led to consideration of some alternative ways in which Linda might approach Charlie to support and help him.
  4. Considered Linda’s support network and resources – this included generating ideas to increase her own strategies for self-care. We realised Linda had been so focused on a mum that she had neglected some of the other areas of her life that gave her strength and confidence.

What did the client have to say about the experience and outcome of the consultation?

Linda expressed feeling relief for being able to talk about the difficulties she was experiencing and surprise at how stuck she had become without realising it. She was relieved to discover that there were some practical things that she could do that might make a big difference and break some old family patterns that may have been contributing to the problem.

"Dr Andrea Shortland’s session for MediaCom on a children’s mental health was incredibly informative"

“Dr Andrea Shortland’s session for MediaCom on a children’s mental health was incredibly informative. During the second period of lockdown and home-schooling; parents and children found themselves again in a period of upheaval and transition. Many parents and carers were extremely worried about their children’s mental health and their own ability to be present and engaged whilst also playing the role of teacher and care giver. Dr Shortland gave attendees an insight into how many parents were feeling; tips on supporting children and helping them cope whilst studying from home and also managing their mental health. She also helped us realise the importance of taking care of ourselves in order to effectively support our children. It was such a useful session that we realise it was also pertinent for not only children’s mental health but also adults! We will be holding another session with Dr Andrea and MediaCom soon.”

Avelon Thompson, MediaCom (following a parenting workshop)