My Child Needs Therapy but Doesn’t Want to Go

I completely understand your hesitancy to force your child to do something she does not want to do, and so does your child! Very often teens do not want to admit to themselves that they cannot manage their own lives. Developmentally they are struggling with that dependence/independence battle: they want to be independent and resent their dependency. Moreover, the last thing they want to do is admit to a parent that their concerns may be valid. In fact, as a therapist, I have had teens say to me, “Don’t tell my mother I said that I don’t want her to know she is right.” 

As for the threats of never sharing again, or hating you, well, it’s working, isn’t it? The fact that you are thinking of caving in to her gives her a false sense of power, that in reality, actually makes her feel more insecure. Why? Because deep down she knows she needs help; she does not want to admit it and therefore cannot ask for help but needs you to be the adult, to create the security that a firm stance will create so that yes, she can blame you, save face and not feel as damaged as she believes she is. Your role as a parent is to take it on the chin for the team! She doesn’t need a friend. She needs an adult who will help her despite herself.

What happens then when she comes to therapy, against her will? Will she really hate therapists and therapy for the rest of her life? Will she even benefit if there is no buy in for her? It may take a while for her to fully engage with the therapist and a good therapist will let her know that that is okay, that she is more than the sum total of any problems her parents thinks she may have, and that maybe just by coming to therapy, her parents’ concerns will start to be alleviated and she can feel less pressure. A good therapist will also help normalize some of her struggles so she feels less self-condemning and more self-compassionate. She will have a chance to show the therapist what are her strengths and coping skills. Therapy is about identifying and nurturing strengths as well as helping them learn to develop the ability to cope with situations that are overwhelming for them. This process then leads to her discovering areas she actually needs help in and learn about the skills that will move her forward, all the while, telling you she hates it! 

If your teen needs support contact us today. 

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