As a parent or guardian, you want to do what’s best for your child. The teenage years are a critical developmental time in a child’s life; they’re experiencing new emotions and mental stimulation that could lead them to make some wild decisions or even dangerous ones. What might appear to be just disobedient or disrespectful behavior could be a call for help from someone unsure or scared about reaching out. How can you engage your teenager about getting the support they need?
Be Gentle. The way you approach the situation can make a night and day difference. If you address your teen in an accusatory manner, such as, “You’re always sad.” “You never want to be around the family anymore.” “You’re always so emotional.” Your teen will likely close themselves off and ignore you entirely, and you risk worsening the situation.
Speak in a calm and gentle tone. Express that you’re worried and want to discover what might be wrong. A loving and kind deliverance will make your teen more likely to open up to you and be receptive to receiving mental health treatments. The old saying, “What would Jesus do?” really sets the bar for how we should interact with our teenagers.
Be Curious. Be curious and willing to explore feelings. Understanding what’s going on with your teen before scheduling the first mental health counseling appointment is important. It’s crucial to understand not only their feelings about their situation, but also their feelings about therapy. Some teenagers will be more open to discussing these, and others will be more reluctant.
“What do you think you’ll be doing in therapy?” “What do you feel when you imagine talking to someone about your feelings?” Questions like these express your concern and curiosity about what your teen is experiencing mentally. This can be a good time to pray together for understanding and patience with each other. Tensions can be high, and it’s important to maintain a composure that is Christ-like so that your teenager remains receptive to the idea of mental health counseling.
Set Boundaries. It is imperitive that you set boundaries with your teen when it comes to therapy. Teens are often hesitant to speak to a counselor because they’re afraid everything discussed will be relayed back to their parents. Research has shown that teen therapy has a far better outcome when the teenager is allowed autonomy in their relationship with their therapist. By setting boundaries, you can help your teen feel safe and secure and allow them to open up to their counselor about their feelings.
Be Inclusive. NuWell offers Christian counselors that specialize in teen therapy. Invite your teen to be part of the process of choosing the Christian counselor that’s right for them. Research shows that teen therapies have better outcomes when a rapport is established between the teen and the counselor. It will help your teenager relax when they can read counselor bios and know who they’re speaking to and what to expect.
Play Your Part. By normalizing mental health counseling, you’re helping your teen to be able to speak openly abvout their mental health. Consider seeking a counselor yourself or making it a family therapy session. It can be overwhelming to speak to your teen about seeking therapy, but with humility, it is a chance to show your own vulnerabilities and destigmatize the act of seeking mental health counseling with your teen. By giving them a safe and open space, you’re doing wonders to help your teenager get on top of their mental health.
NuWell Christian Counseling is equipped with experienced Christian counselors that specialize in teen and family therapy using a combination of therapy science and methods grounded in God’s Word. Talk to your teenager or your family about seeking mental health services in a godly way with NuWell!