Last month, we offered tips for talking to a child about going to counseling. But, anyone who has ever parented an adolescent knows that talking to them can be extremely challenging at times. We get it. We work with teens at our Atlanta-based counseling clinic every day, so we know that talking to your teen about something as important as child counseling may make you, the parent, very stressed. But, did you know that when you’re anxious, your child is likely to pick up on that and become emotional or defensive in return? So, today we want to offer you some suggestions for talking to your teen about seeing a therapist.
When to Consider Teen Counseling:
If you’ve noticed a change in your child’s behavior or emotions, it may be time to consider teen therapy. Common mental health concerns that often bring teens to therapy include:
- Increased anxiety, worry, and stress
- Depression or frequent bouts of sadness
- Poor self-esteem and self-confidence
- Behavioral or academic issues at school
- Social concerns and/or bullying
- Grief and loss
- Relationship concerns
- Trauma and PTSD
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
Talking to your teen can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Try these tips when you bring up teen counseling:
As a parent, it hurts to see your teen struggle. I imagine you would do almost anything to help them work through their pain and feel happy. But, the closer they get to adulthood, the more they want to be independent which means they turn to you less often for help and support. Perhaps, you’ve tried to talk to your teen about the concerns you have, but they don’t want to listen. Perhaps, they withdraw and ignore you, or maybe they become defensive and hostile.
So, it’s only normal and natural to feel stressed when you have to talk to your teen about going to counseling. But, the longer you ignore the problem, the worse it may become. And, I know you don’t want that.
1. Remain Calm
The first step in talking to your child about going to teen counseling is to take some deep breathes and relax. If you go to them in an anxious mood, they are likely to pick up on that and become emotional in return. This will prevent the conversation from being successful. And, may even cause more challenges.
2. Consider the Timing
It’s very important that you never bring up the idea of going to therapy when you’re arguing with your child or when they’re already upset. When humans are extremely emotional, their brain goes into “the red zone.” In this zone, they can’t hear you or be rational. Their brain has gone into survival mode and their fight or flight instinct kicks in. What they need is to feel safe. So, it’s not a good idea to bring up counseling until they are emotionally and mentally ready to hear you. Furthermore, bringing up counseling when you’re frustrated with your child, can carry the connotation that therapy is a punishment and they have to go because they did something wrong or upset you. Therapy should always be talked about as being a positive and helpful thing.
Instead, model appropriate communication when you talk to your teen. Do your best to remain calm and relaxed, even if they begin to escalate. The idea of going to counseling may be frightening to them and might need time to process what you’re saying. Please allow them this time if they are not in crisis. Just know that they’re more likely to hear what you have to say and listen to your concerns if they feel safe and respected.
3. Stick to the Facts
Don’t try to guess what your teen struggling with or make assumptions. No matter how old you are, when people place their assumptions on you, it can feel very frustrating and upsetting. For example, if you notice your teenager is sulking in their room and crying a lot, don’t assume that they are dealing with relationship issues. They could be dealing with a myriad of things that are upsetting them or they may not even know what’s bothering them.
Instead, share with them what you’ve noticed. For example, you could say “I’ve noticed you seem to be sad and spending a lot of time in your room. Is everything okay?” Then, listen to their response. Ask open-ended questions and validate their struggles.
Then, share with them the way counseling can help. Please don’t tell your child that it will “cure” or eliminate their mental health concerns. You can’t promise that. Instead, explain how a therapist can help them cope with the distress they’re experiencing and give them tools to help them through hard times in the future.
4. Allow your Teen to Have a Say in Choosing Their Counselor
Forcing your child to go to therapy doesn’t typically go well. As I’m sure you know, teens typically don’t like being told what to do, especially by their parents. So, if they feel forced into counseling, they may clam up and withdraw altogether. This makes it harder for a therapist to form a relationship with your teen and help them feel better.
Instead, empower your teen to have a say in the counselor they see. Let them know that you want them to feel comfortable talking with their therapist, so you want them to be a part of the process of selecting who they work with. Teens want to feel like they are in control of their life, so allowing them the opportunity to have some say in the counseling process offers them some reassurance that their needs will be met which puts them at ease.
One easy way to do this is to give them three or four listings for potential therapists or counseling clinics. Allow them the opportunity to look through their websites and ask them to pick one or two. Furthermore, if the counseling center offers a free consultation, use this as a time for your child to get to know the therapist. Ask them if they think they would like to talk to this person and feel comfortable with them. Then, make the decision on who to see together.
5. Let your teen decide if they want to see a therapist in-person or do online therapy
Another thing you can do to empower your child is allowing them to decide where they see their therapist. Due to the pandemic, most counseling centers offer online therapy or telehealth services. Some teens prefer this option because they enjoy talking to overs using technology. However, some prefer to meet with their therapist in-person. Let your child decide what they would prefer.
Begin Teen Counseling in Georgia:
If you live in the Atlanta area and need further support, please reach out to our counseling clinic and our teen therapists. We would be happy to speak with you and/or your teen to answer the questions you may have about counseling. Follow these steps to begin counseling in Roswell, GA:
- Reach out to our counseling clinic and schedule a consultation call with one of our therapists,
- Meet with a teen therapist to ask any questions you may have about teen counseling at Wellview Counseling
- Begin counseling in Rosewell and watch your teen grow and thrive!
Other Therapy Services Offered at Wellview Counseling
Wellview Counseling in Atlanta, GA offers many mental health services to help you or your loved ones find healing and growth. Our therapy services include play therapy, child counseling, individual counseling, social skills groups for kids, therapy for postpartum anxiety and depression, anxiety treatment, trauma and PTSD treatment, chronic illness counseling, family therapy, and positive discipline parent education opportunities. Reach out to our Roswell, GA mental health clinic to learn more about counseling or online therapy. We would love to discuss the many ways we can help you or your loved one thrive!
About the Author: Therapist Ashley Bobo, LCSW
Ashley Bobo, LCSW is an Atlanta therapist who provides individual and family therapy to help with anxiety, depression, postpartum depression & anxiety, parent coaching, and other mental health concerns.
If you live in the Atlanta area (or anywhere in Georgia) and would like to begin counseling services for your child or anyone in your family, give us a call at 678-288-6221 or email email@example.com.