How You Can Encourage a Teen Resistant to Counseling

Getting your teen to listen is usually a tricky proposition. This goes double for when they need help. Most likely, they will not ask for help. Even less likely is the possibility that they’d want to speak to a health professional. So, you’re starting from a tough position when it comes to counseling. It’s a very personal and private choice. Hence, it’s to be expected that you’ll meet with some resistance. Fortunately, there are some options. You’re not the first parent to face this issue. You have resources at your disposal. If this situation sounds familiar, you’ve come to the right place.

Why Teens Are Resistant to Counseling

It’s a rare scenario in which a teenager initiates their own entry into counseling. They are usually in therapy because an authority figure told them they needed it. Parents, teachers, doctors, or even a judge may be the catalyst. For that general reason alone, teens will dig in their heels. Some of the more specific causes for their resistance:

  • Reluctance to tell their problems to a stranger
  • The stigma that therapy means you’re “crazy”
  • Fear of their friends finding out
  • Concerns about potential medications

Of course, for each child, there will also be individual perspectives and variations. Thus, for starters, take these concerns seriously. Listen to them. Validate them. Factor them into the process. Show your teen that they will be heard and respected.

A Few More Ways You Can Encourage a Teen Resistant to Counseling

Make It a Family Effort

Make it clear that you recognize that you — or other family members — may play a role in the problem at hand. Consider family therapy. Take the lead by going to counseling yourself. Find out how your teen would want to play it in terms of privacy. Should siblings be involved? Would they prefer privacy to begin? Does your teen want you or anyone else in the family to participate in some sessions?

Therapy must not be seen as a form of “punishment.” Your teen has a problem. This means the family is their support them — and to make certain they are contributing.

More Specifically, Set Privacy Ground Rules

Outside of rare instances, your child should have the option to not talk about their sessions with anyone except their therapist. It might be your most powerful bargaining chip to give them agency over the process. This shows respect for them and their inner thoughts.

It’s not easy for a parent to give up such control. But confidentiality is a major way by which counselor and client develop trust and rapport.

Explain the Concept

Plenty of teens — plenty of adults, too — may only know therapy through TV or movies. It is essential to clarify what you’re urging your child to do. Teen therapy is designed for teens. It’s not like Tony Soprano or a teen-oriented streaming series. Basically, let them know that teen counselors are specialists. Do your homework so you can give informed answers to the inevitable questions.

Force is the Last Resort

Voluntary attendance in teen counseling is ideal. Unfortunately, there are scenarios in which therapy becomes an urgent need. These may include:

  • Running away from home
  • Risky sexual practices
  • Substance abuse
  • Criminal acts

If things have gotten this far, you probably have to push the issue. This could mean contacting outside help to make it happen.

Let’s Talk About It!

Your teen is definitely not the only one with questions. If your child needs therapy, your head may be spinning at the moment. Read more about teen counseling and reach out. Let’s set up a consultation. You’ll get the answers you need and together, we can get this important journey started.

Getting Started With Teen Counseling in Lakewood & Longmont Colorado

We invite you to call us at 720-551-4553 for a free 20-minute phone consultation. You can schedule your appointment via phone, email, or the contact page on our website. We offer both in-person and online counseling. We’re open to whichever option you feel more comfortable with.  We look forward to hearing from you!