According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 21.4% of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 suffer from severe mental disorders during their lifetime.
Research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) underscores the significance of parental support in this scenario, highlighting that teenagers who receive such support are more inclined to seek assistance for their mental health challenges.
However, discussing the topic of therapy with your parents, particularly if you don’t share a close bond, can feel overwhelming and daunting. This article explores various strategies and tips designed to assist you in navigating the question of how to tell your parents you need therapy.
How to Ask Your Parents for Therapy
Here are some important steps you can take to tell your parents that you need therapy.
Understand Your Own Needs First
Before you decide to share your need for therapy with your parents, it’s crucial to comprehend your own needs and reasons behind seeking therapy. Allocate some time for self-reflection and contemplate why you believe therapy is essential for you.
Initiate this process by pinpointing the specific issues or concerns causing distress in your life. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, relationship problems, or any other challenge affecting your daily life, identify them.
Acknowledge that seeking help does not denote weakness or flaws; on the contrary, it reflects courage and strength.
Consider what you aspire to achieve through therapy. Do you want to manage your symptoms better? Improve relationships? Develop coping mechanisms? Clearly defining these goals will serve as a foundation for your discussions with your parents.
Do Research and Preparation
According to the International Journal of Mental Health Systems, early intervention through therapy can reduce symptoms by up to 70%. So, once you have a clear understanding of why you need therapy, it’s time to gather information and prepare before approaching your parents.
- Research different types of therapies available, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), psychoanalysis, etc. Learn more about their techniques, processes, and success rates.
- Educate yourself on the benefits of seeking professional help – improved self-awareness, better relationships, effective problem-solving skills, etc.
- Address any common misconceptions that might arise during discussions with your parents.
Choose the Right Time and Setting
Timing is crucial when bringing up such a delicate subject. Make sure that both you and your parents are in a calm state of mind.. It may be helpful to schedule an appropriate time for this conversation, such as during the weekend or after dinner when everyone is relaxed and has ample time to talk.
Selecting a comfortable and private setting will create an atmosphere of safety and trust, allowing for open communication. This could be at home or somewhere outside like a park or coffee shop where you feel most comfortable talking. Avoid having this conversation in public places where others might overhear, as this could make you or your parents feel uncomfortable.
Craft Your Message
Expressing your emotions and thoughts clearly is vital when approaching your parents about seeking therapy. Some points to keep in mind while crafting your message are:
- Be honest about how you’re feeling – whether it’s anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issue that you may be struggling with.
- Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements to avoid placing blame on anyone else. For example, avoid saying sentences like “You never listen to me.” Instead, use, “I have been feeling overwhelmed lately.”
- Sharing specific examples can help illustrate your need for therapy more effectively. You can mention how certain situations or experiences have been affecting you mentally and emotionally.
Address Concerns and Questions
When it comes to telling your parents that you need therapy, there may be some concerns or questions that they have. It’s important to anticipate these potential doubts and prepare thoughtful responses to address them in a calm and understanding manner.
Some common concerns that parents may have to include:
- “Why do you think you need therapy?”
- “Why don’t we just talk about your problems at home?”
- “Will this cost a lot of money?”
In response, here are some key points and potential answers you can use:
- Explain why you feel like therapy would be beneficial for your mental health needs.
- While it’s great to have open communication at home, sometimes talking with a professional can provide additional support and guidance.
- Prices for therapy vary, but many therapists offer sliding scale fees or accept insurance.
Help them see that it’s normal to have concerns about what might come up in therapy sessions. Therapists follow confidentiality laws and can only share information with your permission.
Encourage Open Dialogue
When a child expresses the need for therapy, it’s natural for parents to feel shocked or concerned. However, it’s crucial to foster open dialogue and convey that discussing mental health is entirely normal and healthy.
Remind your parents that seeking therapy is not a sign of weakness but rather a positive step toward healing and personal growth. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings on the matter, emphasizing that you value their opinions and want an open conversation.
Discuss setting boundaries with your parents during conversations about therapy. Let them know they can ask questions without judgment or dismissal of your feelings. You might say beforehand, ‘I understand this isn’t easy for either of us. Let’s agree not to interrupt each other and listen openly with compassion.’
If they express hesitancy or concerns, avoid getting defensive or argumentative. Instead, try to understand their perspective and calmly address their worries.
Increase Awareness in Your Parents
It is important to raise parental awareness about the current teenage landscape and the impact it has on their children. It’s essential to share relevant statistics and studies to make parents aware of the significant changes the digital era has brought for their children.
According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of teens have smartphones and spend about 9 hours daily on social media. This constant exposure can lead to cyberbullying, which has been linked to negative mental health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
Turning to the sensitive topic of self-harm, it’s unfortunate but true that it’s becoming more common among young people. Research from the American Psychological Association reveals that 1 in 5 adolescents engages in self-injury behaviors.
It is time to start meaningful conversations with your parents about the current state of being a teenager and how they can play an active role in supporting their child’s emotional growth through therapy.
Emphasize on Collaboration
Collaboration is a key component of therapy, and it’s essential to highlight this to your parents when discussing the possibility of seeking therapy. This means that you will work together with a professional therapist as a team to address any issues or concerns you may have. Mentioning this can help alleviate any fears your parents may have about therapy being solely focused on ‘fixing’ you.
Stressing the Positive Impact Therapy Can Have on Relationships
One way to emphasize collaboration is by highlighting how therapy can have a positive impact not just on you, but also on your relationships with your family members. Research has shown that family dynamics can significantly improve after one person in the family seeks therapy.
Discuss Potential Family Therapy Options
If there are specific issues in your family dynamic that have been causing tension or conflicts, it might be beneficial for everyone involved to attend therapy sessions together. This approach is known as family therapy, where all members participate in sessions aimed at improving communication and understanding within the family unit.
Be Ready for Their Reaction
The reactions of parents can vary greatly, from being supportive to showing indifference or even anger. It is important not to lose hope and become demotivated if their response does not align with what you hoped for.
As parents who grew up without the benefits of technology, they may struggle to empathize or fully comprehend the need for therapy for their adolescent children. Give them time and remain optimistic as they only strive for what is truly best for you.