If you are the parent of a teen, you already know how tricky it is to make suggestions. Try telling them to eat healthy meals or get enough sleep. Anything that sounds like advice can cause a conflict. Now imagine you are encouraging your teen to try counseling. This is a topic that even makes adults squirm.
The good news is that the stigma is fading. Also, more and more teens are open to therapy. Modern life has changed so quickly — not to mention the events of the pandemic. This had led some young adults to recognize the importance of asking for help.
7 Ways You Can Encourage Your Teen To Try Counseling
1. Normalize Therapy
How open are you to attending therapy? You can model self-loving behavior by making the commitment to counseling yourself. It sounds like a cliché but it’s true. Teenagers key in on actions more than words. If therapy is a normalized topic within your family, your children are far less likely to feel any stigma.
2. Talk to Them About Myths and Misperceptions
If therapy has come up in conversation, your child has probably consulted a search engine about it. They also may pay close attention when counseling is portrayed in pop culture. This can be helpful. It also can be fraught with inaccuracies. A situation like this is an ideal situation to work together with your child. Research together to see what you can learn.
It is crucial that your teen understand that therapy takes many forms. A counselor who works with teens takes certain approaches based on that demographic. Also, they are not just another parent or authority figure.
3. Explain Why You Think Counseling is a Good Idea
Be sensitive and patient. Suggesting something like therapy requires a sincere, detailed explanation. Do your homework in advance. Be ready for a slew of questions. Most importantly, keep the focus on the fact that you want to help. Give them clear examples of what you’ve noticed and why you may feel concerned.
4. Set Up Some Free Consultation Calls
Even if your teen is interested in counseling, it’s not that simple. They need to find a good match. Setting up your child with some free consultation calls has many benefits:
- Gives the teen a sense of agency
- Offers a glimpse into what the process is like
- Gets plenty of questions answered
5. Explain Therapy Boundaries
It can be a game-changer for a teen to learn that they will have privacy with their counselor. A major obstacle to a young adult starting therapy is a fear of parental interference. They want a space where they can talk openly and freely. Let them know they will be respected during this process.
If your child wants to share with you about therapy, fine. If they prefer to keep things confidential, assure them that you will fin with that, too.
6. Try Family Therapy
There is a possibility that the issues at hand are collective. They might be best addressed as a group. In such an instance you can suggest your teen join you (and perhaps your spouse) in family therapy. The onus won’t be on one person. Also, as discussed in #1 above, you are demonstrating your willingness to participate in what you are suggesting for your children.
7. Start Slowly
Ask your teenager to commit on a week-by-week basis. Such an approach leaves things to the therapist to be the one to explain, educate, and reassure.
As mentioned above, confidential consultation calls are available. Read more about teen counseling and I’d love to connect with you — and your teen — to further discuss this process and its powerful potential.