When Your Teen Says No to Therapy: How Parents Can Help

Psychotherapy may not always be an easy sell for your teenager.  It is often the case that you, the parents, are noticing some challenges that your teen is having and you are hoping to get them in to have someone to talk to.  This may be easier said than done.  If you are finding it difficult to convince your teen to come in, you are not alone.  Adolescence can be a challenging time, as your teens are feeling increased stress and pressure in a variety of domains (academic concerns, peer relationships, romantic relationships, etc.), and are beginning to separate more from you and the rest of their family as they become more independent.  This developmental task can often be met with some opposition, challenges, power struggles, and conflicts among family members.  A therapist can work with you for some parent coaching sessions aimed at developing tips and tricks for you to feel empowered to help your teen and/or learn ways to help them see the utility of coming to therapy.

You as parents are welcome to seek out you own meetings with a therapist that you can utilize as consultations.  During these sessions, the therapist would work with you to learn more about your teen and the challenges that they may be having.  The ultimate goal of these sessions would be to work towards meeting the child and engaging them in their own treatment; however, in the interim, the therapist can work with you to identify what might be getting in the way of your child coming in, and, with your help, work together to think of ways to approach the teen to try to get their buy-in.  In these sessions, therapists can work with you to help reframe the teen’s challenges to challenges that seem more manageable, to better understand the reasons behind some of their struggles, to learn techniques for validating their concerns while avoiding power struggles, and to learn strategies for improving communication.

If you think your teenager would benefit from therapy but are struggling to understand how to engage them or how to “sell” the idea to them, therapists at Georgetown Psychology Associates can help.  In addition, we recommend the following resources to parents who are finding themselves at odds with their teens more often than they would like:

The Explosive Child

Lives in the Balance (website, includes parenting resources)