Teens and young people
Information for parents of teens
If you are bringing your teen to see a psychologist for the first time, here’s some information to help you and your child get the most out of therapy.
The first session
In the first few sessions we will spend some time with you, finding out about the background and how you see the situation. We will also spend time with your teen. Every family is different and we will negotiate with you about what would be the best way to gather the information we need.
One of the tricky things in the initial stages of therapy is the need to negotiate different agendas – sometimes you and your teen see the problem very differently. In this situation, one of the goals of therapy is to help you better understand each other and to come together to work on the problem.
My teen won't tell me what is going on
Adolescence is a time when we learn how to become independent and separate from our parents – this sometimes means that adolescents are more reluctant to share information with their parents about their problems. One of the advantages of bringing your teen to see a psychologist is that it gives him/her the opportunity to talk with a responsible adult about the things that are important to them (even if they are not willing to share it with you, their parent).
We aim to respect your teen’s requests for confidentiality which means that we may not be at liberty to tell you everything that your teen says in session. However, if there is any potential risk of harm to your teen (or anyone else) we will always share this information with you so we can work together on solutions. As psychologists we are always trying to balance your teenager’s need for privacy and confidentiality, with your need to understand what is going on so you can provide the best support for your child.
We want you to be involved
Although the nature of the relationship with your teen is changing over time, it remains the case that parents are usually the best source of support and encouragement for teens. For this reason we always encourage parents to be involved in your child’s treatment so you can support them to make the changes we are suggesting in session.
What if my teen doesn't want to attend?
“What if my teen doesn’t want to come to therapy, should I force him/her?” Many parents of teens face a difficult situation – you can see that your child is struggling and really needs help but for a range of reasons he/she may be unwilling to see a psychologist. If your child has questions about what therapy will be like, you can encourage them to read our information about therapy for teens. If your teen can been encouraged to see us for one or two sessions this gives us a chance to build a therapeutic relationship with them. We can then answer any concerns they have about therapy and negotiate with them about what we can work on together.
However, if your teen is adamant in declining therapy and is unwilling to attend or participate, forcing the issue rarely works – effective psychological therapy requires willing participation. Sometimes it is better for us to work with you, the parent. We can help to support you, and teach you ways of helping your child. Here’s some more information about the joys and challenges of parenting teens.