Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How to tell your parents you want to see a counselor

There are many preconceptions in our society that seeing a counselor is a bad thing, or means that you are crazy or broken or weak. None of these are true!

Counseling can be a fantastic way to learn how to cope with stress and deal with day to day problems, as well as a great place to talk through anything that's going on in your life. Counseling isn't for everyone, and if it turns out to not be for you that's okay too. Just know that all sorts of people reach out for help around everything from social skills or relationship issues with family or friends, to self-harm, depression or suicide, and those same counseling resources could be just as helpful for you. 

Parents can be a very valuable resource when seeking counseling and can be a support system for you through the process, but reaching out to your parents to let them know you want to see a counselor is often not an easy thing to do. Here are some general tips on how to start having a conversation with your parents about looking into counseling:

  1.  Set a specific time and place for            this conversation

    • Having a time set aside will make sure you are able talk about everything you want to cover and aren't cut off in the middle
    • It's also important to find somewhere private and with minimal distractions so that everyone feels comfortable throughout the conversation

  2.  Make sure no one is under the influence 

    • It is important that everyone involved be mentally present throughout this conversation and be able to take it seriously

 3.  Tell your parents you wish to get some objective, outside help 

    • Let them know that you want some help and support around some things you are going through and you want it to be from an adult who can be completely objective to the situation and has specialized training around mental health issues/coping strategies.
    • Coming from the standpoint of wanting an unbiased, outside perspective can help clarify why you want to see a counselor versus simply talking to your parents about the situation.

  4.   Reassure your parents you are not in immediate danger (if this is the case)

    • Letting your parents know that you are not in danger will help ensure the conversation is calm and productive

  5.   Try to choose a counselor or therapist ahead of time 

    • This will make it possible for you to discuss specifics with your parents, which will give you concrete things to focus on if they have concerns
    • In most cases you can also set up a time for your parents to meet with the therapist you have looked into if they have questions
    • However, if you are over the age of 13 you have the right to decline having your parents involved in the counseling process and your counselor legally can not talk to your parents without your permission and a release of information form
    • You can learn more about choosing a counselor right for you here

  6.   If your parents do not respond well, end the discussion for the night

    • Getting in a fight can make the situation worse, so bringing the conversation to an end before it gets to this point is a good idea
    • Helpful phrases are things like: 
      • “I need additional support from another adult” 
      • “You did nothing wrong as my parent. I just need some additional help to get through this” 
      • “I need a space that allows me to discuss private things”
Having had personal experience seeing a counselor and receiving support from my family through the process, I encourage you to give seeing a counselor a shot if you think it could help and provide you with needed support.

The information show above was collected from this article (feel free to also use it as a reference).

Not all parents are supportive around counseling; if you do not feel safe discussing the possibility of counseling with your parents, or they react badly to this conversation, there are lots of resources for teens to get counseling without their family being notified (though it is much more difficult). If you want information about these counseling services, or if you just want to anonymously talk about whatever you are struggling with, Teen Link is always ready to offer some help. You can call (866) 833- 6546 any day from 6-10 pm or chat through www.866teenlink.org 

1 comment:

  1. Speaking from personal experience, I think the hardest part of deciding to see a counselor isn't family members, but admitting to yourself that you need help. I went through a major depressive episode when I was in high school and then while I was in college. It was difficult for me to admit to myself that I needed help to overcome what I was feeling. There's a stigma associated with going to see a counselor and there shouldn't be.
    Claudia Rosenburg | http://www.thecurvedcouch.com/teens