A Parent’s Guide to Helping a Teen in Counseling
By Debbie Tudor, LPC Supervisor, and
Pare Radillo, LPC Intern
- Don’t question a teen about their counseling. Counseling works best when the adolescent has the right to confidentiality about everything that isn’t dangerous or illegal.
- Never ask a teenager to keep a secret from their other parent. This teaches them that it’s permissible for that other parent to ask them to keep a secret from YOU.
- The relationship of trust with in counseling between the teenager and the counselor takes time. You may not see immediate results or changes at home.
- Adolescents don’t process verbally the way adults do; if the teen does tell you about the counseling, you may not understand the purpose of the activities the counselor is doing.
- If you don’t see changes in the adolescent’s mood, behavior, schoolwork or other areas after 5-6 sessions, tell the teen and the counselor that you want to schedule a meeting for the three of you.
- Recognize good behavior. It is important for your teen in counseling to know that when they are improving in their behavior, that it is important to you. Show positive recognition through hugs and “You must be proud of yourself.”
- Be honest with yourself. A pitfall that parents often fall into is the “fix him/her” mindset. Be sure to be honest with yourself in the places you can improve in as a parent, and seek your own professional counseling if needed.
- It is important for your teen to know that they have a voice and that you hear them. Even if you don’t agree with your teen, allowing them to be heard can increase the benefits of counseling both in and out of session.
- Use I not YOU statements. When we use I statements we take ownership of our own thoughts and feelings, and take pressure off our teen to have the same thoughts and feelings. Talk about what you would like to see instead of what they should or shouldn’t be doing.
- Role Model. The most influential thing a parent can do while their adolescent is in teen counseling is role model the expected behavior him/herself. The teen will then be able to not only hear what appropriate behavior is, but get to see it at home as well.