Everyone gets angry at times and of course, teens are no exception. If your teen seems angry all the time, though, or behaves in a violent or abusive manner when angry, he might benefit from counseling. Teens who show signs of depression, like sleeping a lot more or less than normal, crying frequently, changes in appetite, and talking about death or suicide, probably need to see a counselor, too. So do teens using alcohol or drugs.
Express your concerns calmly and in a matter-of-fact manner. Be honest about why you think your teen needs counseling. Professional counselor Jill Crawford recommends never trying to trick your teen into going to counseling because that can easily backfire. Your teen may suspect the counselor colluded with you to deceive her and find it impossible to trust the counselor after that, plus your relationship with your teen will be affected negatively, as well.
Present counseling as an opportunity, suggests Crawford. Your teen will have the opportunity to talk about things that bother him and to learn new ways to deal with anger and other problems. Present that in a positive light.
Allow your teen to be involved in the process of choosing a counselor, if possible. Ask if she would prefer to see a male or female counselor.
Ask your teen to agree to go to at least three sessions before deciding whether or not he thinks counseling will help him or whether or not he likes the counselor. As Psych Central explains, it often takes a few sessions to feel comfortable with a counselor.
Address any questions or concerns your teen has, including concerns about confidentiality. Explain that by law, counselors are not permitted to tell anyone, even parents, what teens tell them, except under a few specific circumstances. Counselors must report suspected child abuse to the proper authorities. If a teen threatens to hurt herself or someone else, counselors must tell someone in order to keep everyone safe. Finally, if your teen is involved in the juvenile justice system, the court may require her counselor to provide certain information to the court or to a probation officer.
- Choose a counselor with plenty of experience working with teens. Teens often find it difficult to open up to adults, and counselors that work with teens know how to help them feel comfortable.
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