How to Talk to Your Teen About Counseling
You want nothing but the best for your teenager, and it’s heartbreaking to watch them struggle mentally. Your child may have voiced their mental health problems, or you may notice from afar that something is off but have no idea how to intervene. Many parents worry about bringing up counseling to their child for fear it will send the wrong message.
Unfortunately, some parents have used the therapy as a threat, implying that it is a punishment and their teenager’s mental health struggles are a wrongdoing. We want to change the view families have about counseling and help you present it as not only a form of treatment or a “last resort” for serious issues.
We believe counseling is a tool for everyone, and it can be just as beneficial for treating problems as it can be at preventing them. If you are wondering whether counseling is right for your teen, here are some of the topics a counselor can address:
- • Self-esteem and confidence
- • Social skills, including making new friends and dating
- • Family relationships
- • Depression, self-harm and suicide risks
- • Anxiety
- • Substance use and addiction
- • Eating disorders
- • Sexuality and gender identity
How to Bring Up Counseling to Your Teen
Your child should feel like they are included in the decision to go to therapy. Counselors will face a greater challenge forming a connection with your teen if they have been essentially forced into talking against their will. Resistance to participate in counseling often stems from fear, embarrassment or shame about their struggles. To combat this, you should start a dialogue that is rooted in love and a desire to help your teen feel good about themselves.
You should start off by reminding your teen that you love and care about them. Just because they may not always be receptive to affection does not mean they don’t need it. In fact, adolescents are particularly sensitive to approval, so affirmation is essential.
Let them know what you’ve noticed about their behavior or mental health, but avoid coming at it from a critical standpoint. For example, you may say, “You’ve seemed really down lately, and I’ve noticed you’re spending a lot more time alone than usual. I need alone time when I feel down, too. Has this been helpful for you?”
Once you begin to understand your teenager’s experience and perspective, you can suggest counseling as one way for them to help themselves. You may share about therapy being helpful to you as well; it can also be beneficial to mention that you understand talking to you or other people can be difficult, and a counselor will listen without judging or violating your teen’s confidentiality.
Reach Out Together
Inform your teen about their options when it comes to counseling. We offer virtual online therapy for teens that is accessible and convenient for their schedule. Being able to talk to a therapist online can also make talking to a professional less intimidating. Let your teen know their options, and explore different counselors and forms of therapy together. Then, make the appointment and encourage your teen to play an active role in their own wellness.
You can learn more about our teen counseling services and contact us anytime for more information. We’re also happy to provide you or your teen with personalized feedback about how we may help them address specific problems.