"Counseling? You're kidding me! You mean I have to lie down on a couch while a psychiatrist asks me how I'm feeling?"
If you've ever talked to your teen about seeing a counselor, she may have responded that way. Don't be surprised if this happens, we know that therapy isn't discussed much in our culture, and the media often portrays it in a patronizing and unhelpful way. So why send your teen for counseling and what are the benefits?
I first walked into a counselor's office at age 10 due to problems at school, and was invariably in and out of my teens. Because of this, I can attest to the fact that counseling can be invaluable to a young person. It can be hard to get over the idea that "no one else is doing it" (that's a lie) and "there's nothing to talk about" (also a lie). In fact, seeing a therapist empowers young people to overcome and cope with their struggles, while allowing them to feel understood.
You may also want to have Dr. Jonathan Toussaint's books.
If you want to have a conversation with your teenager about attending counseling, these 7 benefits (all of which I have experienced) will show you why it is so helpful.
1. They experience independence
Some young people seek independence for a long time and others fear it. Either way, seeing a counselor is a healthy way for your teen to experience this as she takes charge of his feelings, experiences, and her mental health. She also allows him to "let loose", knowing that she is in good hands.
2. Provides a smoother transition
Transitions from child to adolescent and adolescent to adult are complex and fraught with conflict for the entire family. A counselor will help your teen navigate these transitions, allowing them to enter a new stage in life.
3. Your teen is given space
Personal space and time away from family is a gold mine for most teens. They need to be understood. A counselor is a safe outsider that your teen will feel validated by, rather than feeling like a child.
4. Benefits your mental health
Puberty is like a bright light that draws every feeling, emotion, experience, and temptation into your child's life. Your teen needs support right now. Depression and anxiety are often seen in young adults, and self-medication or self-harm practices are very common. Wherever your teen is, seeing a counselor can help you take care of her mental health.
5. Benefits the family
Inevitably, when a young person attends counseling, he will discover behaviors and beliefs that permeate the family unit. Having your teen attend counseling and then listening and supporting him (or even helping him yourself) can create a much more stable and happy home environment.
6. They are held accountable
If you ask your young man where she's been, she's probably meddling. If you don't, it is perceived that you don't care. Living with a teenager is not a win-win situation for them or for you. Allowing them to see a counselor provides an alternative avenue for holding them accountable. Instead of feeling victimized by their behaviors, a counselor will give them the space to explore why this is happening and how to move on.
7. Your teen feels valued
Among the extreme emotions your teen feels every day, he simply wants to know that she is okay. The world, your colleagues and even your family are telling you to do things better or to do less in something else. They feel like they should be a completely different person and act like a chameleon every day depending on who they are with. The primary need to feel valued, understood and accepted is what your child is desperate for during this stage of life. A counselor provides this in her sessions, allowing your teen to explore her place in the world in a safe environment.
Are you worried about your young man? Would you like your teen to experience the benefits of counseling? Here's what to do: Contact Dr.Jonathan Toussaint for a consultation on how he can best help you.