Do Teens Know What Counseling Is?
Updated: May 21, 2021
Let's talk about counseling and teenagers. For the most part, teenagers don’t really know what counseling or therapy is all about. Typically, if teenagers have any thoughts about counseling, it’s due to their friends having experience with counseling or they watched a movie or television show that had a counselor or therapist in the plot. With teenagers not having the most accurate information about counseling or mental health, the thought of going to counseling can be scary to them. Initially, a person coming to therapy can feel shame, embarrassment, and fear. It can be extremely difficult for people to be open and vulnerable to a complete stranger. One of the most challenging aspects is for teenagers to be aware that they need help; emotionally and psychologically. Developmentally, most teenagers don’t have the awareness or insight yet to assess if they need guidance or help in regulating their emotions and implementing new coping skills.
Here is where the role of the parent comes into play. It’s important for parents to help their teenagers understand that most individuals struggle with symptoms of anxiety and depression at some point in their lives. The teenage years can be incredibly difficult because developmentally most teenagers don’t have emotional regulation, impulse control, and their identity isn’t solidified yet so, teenagers often struggle with self esteem (who they are and who they want to be, and communicating their needs and wants in their relationships).
To help teenagers feel more comfortable and confident with seeking out counseling it’s imperative for parents to normalize a teenager’s struggle with emotions and relationships. In addition, it’s helpful for parents to educate their teenagers on what counseling and therapy is all about. Letting teenagers know that it can be very beneficial to build rapport with someone, discuss your struggles, and to think about possible solutions and coping skills to help overcome those challenges.
Lastly, after normalizing their struggles and challenges, and educating them about mental health and counseling, it’s important to make sure teenagers have some power in seeking counseling for themselves. Unless there are safety issues, the counseling process will have a higher chance of success if the teenager decides on their own they would like to seek therapy for themselves.
In a nutshell, before enrolling your teenager into counseling its important to normalize their experience and what they are going through right now, educate and give an accurate description of what counseling entails, and allow your teenager to make a decision on whether or not they want to help themselves improve emotionally and psychologically.
If you have a teenager that is interested in knowing more about the process of counseling, feel free to contact me for a free 15 minute phone consultation to see how I might be able to help you.