Doug Tesnow, LCPC
How to Tell Your Teen You've Scheduled Therapy for Them
If you've recently booked a therapy appointment for your adolescent or teen, you might be wondering, How do I talk to my teen about the fact that I've scheduled therapy for them? What language should I use?
A common question for parents and guardians of teens involves how to communicate to their teens that they’ve booked them their first therapy session. The following are a few tips for how to best relate this to your teens, although a lot of these principles can really apply to any age group.
Remind your teen that they’re not alone.
Feeling overwhelmed with school, Covid, friendships, dating, health, the future, or any number of such topics is an incredibly common thing for a teen to feel. Many teens already have peers in therapy, and it can be helpful to remember there are others in the same boat.
Discuss why you feel therapy can be helpful for your teen.
Focus on the positive effects therapy can bring to this person’s life. If there’s been an identified area of challenge, you might offer that therapy can “help them stay ahead of it” or “give them tools to help manage stress.” Such stress can speak to a teen’s very strengths and yet come to feel like it’s too much to handle. Therapy helps empower clients to try new approaches and work through thoughts and feelings that aren’t helping people meet their personal goals.
Keep the pressure low and encourage your teen to give it a try.
Acknowledge your teen’s concerns: encouraging an open dialog about any reservations they may have. Therapy is always most successful when the client feels a bond and understanding with their therapist, so it’s totally ok for your teen to be picky and continue on with the person that feels right for them. Many therapists provide some type of online profile, and families often find it helpful to look at these with their teens. The idea of entering into therapy is often much more intimidating than actually sitting down and having that rewarding first talk with a therapist. Clients can help set the pace and take the time they need to feel trusting in the therapeutic relationship.
Remind your teen that you’ll always be there for them, but point out the benefits a therapist can offer in addition.
Parents want to support their teens the best they can, and teens may differ on how open they’re feeling about confiding in others. It’s important to remind teens that their therapy sessions are confidential, though an early check in with guardians can be set up with the teenager’s input. Talking with a trained therapist has a different feel than relating to friends and family, and can often help provide the space for a client to communicate and work through difficulties in a focused but relaxed way.
If you think your teen may benefit from therapy and would like more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to help you!