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Has your teen asked to see a therapist? If not, are you worried they might ask soon? Here are four things you need to understand to better support your child:
1. Your feelings are valid, however…
If you haven’t been to therapy yourself, it is normal to feel confused or frightened. Perhaps you may even feel offended that your child won’t just talk to you. However, this does not mean you should put these emotions before your child’s well-being. Try to bear in mind that it already takes a lot for your child to tell you that they need therapy. This is rarely an easy or spontaneous topic for them, especially with the stigma surrounding mental health services. They might feel scared or anxious, and now is the best time to be there for them.
2. You don’t have to understand to support.
This time of their lives is full of change and uncertainty both within them and with their environment. Even as a parent, you are not expected to completely know what is happening. Perhaps you don’t understand why people have mental issues or how therapy might help them. Regardless, now is not the time to argue with your child.
3. Ask how they feel, not why.
The best way to talk to your child is to ask how they feel. You can lightly explore their emotions for the past few days or even their hopes and worries about therapy. Avoid asking why they feel that way or rationalize why they shouldn’t. You don’t have to say yes to them right away, especially if it’s relatively costly for you, but do your best to approach the situation with a gentle and open mind.
4. Learn to accept that you can only do so much.
Some matters are best left to professionals who have a deeper understanding of mental health. Just as you would trust a doctor or a dentist, trust the therapist and the process to improve your child’s well-being.
Keywords: Therapy; Teens; Children; Support
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