Getting teens to admit they need emotional help can be difficult. They may say nothing’s wrong. They may not believe in therapy, or they may simply be embarrassed about it. What can you do as a parent or caretaker to get your teen to see the value and want to go to a therapist?
Address misperceptions about therapy
If it’s your teen’s first time going to therapy, they may misunderstand the process. Whether they’re using poor examples from TV or stories from friends, it’s important to address those false impressions. You can do some research on your own and share your knowledge or leave it to the psychologist to discuss during a free phone consultation or intake session.
Try to get your teen to see therapy differently
When talking about a therapist, try to get your teen to think of them like a coach. They’re there to teach you new skills that will improve your “performance.” Once you’ve mastered those skills, they may not need the coach anymore.
Suggest family therapy
When you suggest therapy, your teen may hear, “You’re the problem.” Instead of sending your child to individual therapy, consider family therapy. This takes the pressure off them and also clearly communicates that you’re also willing to do the hard work to help the situation.
Respect therapeutic privacy
Teenagers may resist therapy because they worry the therapist will tell their parent everything they say. Let your child know that you’ll respect their privacy and won’t interfere in treatment.
Therapy has become increasingly common for teenagers, but there’s a chance your child will shun the idea. Unless there are safety concerns, try to avoid strong-arming them into therapy against their will. Coercion is not the foundation for a healthy therapeutic relationship, leaving them less likely to reach out for help if they do recognize they need it later.