Suggesting Counseling to Teenage Son or Daughter

Marilyn Lane


February 9th, 2015

I think my teenage daughter would benefit from seeing a counsellor, how do I bring it up without offending her?

First, I’d like to applaud you for taking a proactive approach to your daughter’s wellbeing. It is admirable that you aren’t choosing to “sweep it under the rug,” so to speak. Whether your daughter’s troubles are minor or severe, almost anyone can benefit from talking to a counsellor. If your daughter suffers from acne or acne scarring, she may also have increased feelings of depression, social anxiety and low self-esteem, which present another great reason to embark on counselling.

Bringing up therapy can be tricky, so here are guidelines to help you approach this delicate subject:

  • Don’t bring up the subject “out of the blue.” Make it a part of ongoing conversations. Sometimes difficult topics are best broached when your teenager doesn’t have to look directly at you, such as while you are both in the kitchen preparing dinner, while riding in the car or as you say goodnight in your child’s room.
  • Don’t corner her. While you may be tempted to take her out for lunch or bring additional family members into the discussion, this can result in extra pressure and the feeling of being outnumbered.
  • Assure her that seeking counseling doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with her. Be specific as to why counseling might be helpful (support, guidance, finding resources, etc.).
  • Share
    your experience. It can be beneficial to offer any personal experience you’ve had with counselors or wish you’d had.
  • Inform her that counselling is confidential. Part of what’s so wonderful about counselling is that it provides an outlet to vent without involving friends or family. For a teenager, this is powerful!
  • Research a few counselling options in the area. Concrete examples can help create a dialogue where she’s able to participate and share opinions.
  • Remind her that it’s ultimately her choice. Assert your best wishes, but let your child know that you support her decision either way and are open to revisiting the subject in the future.

I hope these tips prove helpful! Be sure to talk to a professional in the field if you have concerns and questions about counseling options.

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