How to Introduce the Idea of Counselling to Your Teen

Posted on: 29 May 2015

Teenagers face all sorts of stresses, and it isn't uncommon for them to seek out professional help from a counsellor. However, introducing the idea yourself can be difficult. If your teen seems like they could use some professional support, try following the tips in the guide to suggest that they consider seeing a counsellor.

Choose the Right Time & Place

Find a time when your teen is as relaxed as possible. Friday or the weekend usually works best since the stress of the school week is over. Additionally, make sure you speak to them alone, without any siblings present.

Don't ambush them by bringing up the subject while you're both in the car. This might be tempting since they won't be able to leave, but it doesn't make for effective communication when they are feeling trapped. Wait until you're at home, and consider broaching the subject somewhere other than their bedroom. That is their own personal space, so you'll want to leave them the option of retiring there if the conversation becomes too stressful.

Don't Compare Their Issues

It doesn't matter whether your best friend's daughter saw a counsellor before becoming perfectly happy and well-adjusted; leave all comparisons aside. Nobody experiencing difficulties appreciates them being compared to those of other people since this often seems like trivialisation, but teens are right in the middle of establishing their own personality, so it's even more unwelcome.

Don't Sound too Accusatory

As much as possible, try to steer away from language which seems to blame your teen for their own problems. This might not be something you'd ever do directly, but even telling them that they've been 'acting' depressed might strike the wrong chord since it implies that they are actively contributing to the problem or the problem isn't real. Instead, identify the problem itself. Ask how they're feeling, and tell them you've noticed that they seem to be going through some things.

Leave it Up to Them

You should always avoid telling a teen that they are going to see a counsellor. This makes counselling sound like a threat or a punishment, and removing any semblance of control will often make teenagers less likely to respond in a positive way once counselling has begun. You'll also risk causing a confrontation. Instead, ask your teen whether they have ever thought of seeing a counsellor, or ask them if they would consider going to one. Making it their decision is empowering, and they're likely to be more receptive when counselling begins.

Don't Become Disheartened

Everyone reacts differently to being asked about counselling, but teenagers can be temperamental on the best of days. Your teen might not quite know how to handle the situation, and could act negatively. Avoid pressing the issue, and don't become too discouraged if they don't come around right away. Remain calm, and bring up the subject again once they've had a chance to consider the idea.

The worst thing you can do is ignore the issue, so choose the right time and place, remain compassionate, and talk to your teen. For more tips, consult resources like Inner Dimensions.