Supporting Teens in Therapy

It’s no easy feat to decide to seek therapy services for your teen. Furthermore, teens may not be thrilled about the idea of disclosing personal information to someone they haven’t met. So how can parents support their teen so that they get the most benefit from their time in therapy?

Here are a few foundations to keep in mind: 

  1. Praise your teen for prioritizing their well-being and take every opportunity to acknowledge efforts made. The therapeutic process and corresponding growth can be uncomfortable,  and getting consistent verbal support reminding our teens that they’re doing a great job just for showing up can really encourage them to stick with therapy, even when it’s difficult.
  2. Respect their privacy. Therapy is a safe space where teens can freely express themselves. Allowing your teen to keep the contents of what they discuss in therapy private encourages trust between teens and parents as well as between teens and their therapist. 
  3. Ensure the therapist is a good fit for your teen. It can be difficult to make progress in treatment if your teen does not feel they can speak openly with their therapist or dislikes the chosen therapeutic approach. Check in with your teen on their impressions of their therapist without prying about topics discussed in therapy. 
  4. Schedule sessions (or help your teen schedule sessions) at productive times. Therapy is most likely to be successful if teens are not feeling overscheduled or if they’re fatigued after a long day at school.
  5. Ask your teen how you can help them meet their goals. Each teen might have a different idea on the role their parents play in therapy. Have an open discussion with your teen and teen’s therapist and ask how you can best support their outcomes in therapy. 
  6. Be patient. It can take time to really see the benefits of therapy, especially if your teen is resistant to participating, is slow to warm up, or has an introverted personality type. Establishing the therapeutic relationship is one of the most important factors to successful therapy, and this rapport is cultivated over time. Avoid rushing your teen to meet goals, and trust the process. 

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