Counseling & Therapy for Your Teenager

Creating Positive Environment for Therapy

Suggestions on how to support your teen's therapeutic experience

Helping Your Teenager Navigate Therapy and Counseling

March 15, 2023

Many of the Elk River Treatment Program staff have either spent their careers in the adolescent treatment industry or have walked in the shoes of a parent making the difficult decision to place their teen in residential treatment. Placing her own child in residential treatment propelled Founder and CEO Karen Lee to start the Elk River Treatment Program in 2006.

As parents and caregivers, we know how difficult it is to watch your teenager struggle with mental health and emotional challenges. Before residential intervention is considered, we urge parents to invest in therapy and counseling to assist their child in addressing mental health and emotional challenges and building resilience. This article will discuss several key strategies for supporting your teen through their therapy and counseling journey.

Create a Supportive Environment for Therapy

First and foremost, it is vital to understand the benefits of therapy. Therapy provides a safe and confidential space for your teen to explore their thoughts and feelings, work through their challenges, and develop coping strategies that will serve them well into adulthood. It also offers a supportive environment where your teen can build trust and establish a therapeutic relationship with their therapist. This can be especially helpful for teens who feel like they are not being heard or understood by their friends, family, or teachers.

Communication, Consistency, Commitment

Good communication is key to a successful therapy experience. Encourage your teen to communicate openly and honestly with their therapist. Unless your teen permits you to share information, the details of their therapy sessions should remain private. This helps establish trust between your child and their therapist and encourages your teen to open up and explore sensitive topics.

Let them know that you are there to support them in their journey. This can involve actively listening to them if they talk about their therapy sessions and being open to answering questions that they may have. If your teen is resistant to therapy, try to understand why and offer your support in a non-judgmental way.

Consistency and commitment are also critical to the success of therapy. Encourage your teen to attend therapy sessions regularly and to make a commitment to their therapy journey. While it may be tempting for your teen to skip appointments, remember that consistency and dedication will help them make the most progress. Stress that therapy is a priority and make sure that they have the necessary resources to attend their sessions, such as transportation or financial support.

Participate in Your Teen's Therapeutic Journey

Actively participate in your teen's therapy journey by attending family therapy sessions or meeting with their therapist to discuss their progress. By showing interest in your teen's experience and asking about their therapy sessions (without appearing invasive), you can demonstrate your support and be an advocate for their mental health and well-being.

You can provide resources that support your teen's journey. If your teen is struggling with a specific issue, such as substance use disorder, offer to research support groups or educational resources that may help. Encourage them to research self-help books or websites, videos, or online communities that align with their specific needs and interests.

Be Patient. Healing Takes Time.

It can be tempting to try to solve all of your teen's problems right away, but remember that therapy is a journey - not a destination. Healing and growth take time so patience is critical. Offering support and encouragement better equips your teen to overcome any challenges they may face. Celebrate the small victories and acknowledge your teen's achievements along the way, as this can help build confidence and motivate them to continue their journey.

Another important aspect of supporting your teen's therapy journey is promoting healthy habits and self-care. Encourage your teen to engage in activities such as exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep. These habits can support their overall mental health and emotional well-being and enhance the benefits of therapy. Consider incorporating these habits into your life, as leading by example can be a powerful motivator for your teen.

Lead by Example

Finally, leading by example is crucial to support your teen's therapy journey. The Treatment Team at Elk River Treatment Program strongly encourages parents to seek their own counseling while their child is in treatment. By doing so, you are communicating that it's okay to accept help, and that therapy is a valuable tool for managing emotional and mental health. Being open and honest about your own experiences can help normalize therapy and encourage your teen to prioritize their own mental well-being.

In conclusion, supporting your teen through their therapy and counseling journey is an essential task for parents. By encouraging good communication, promoting commitment and consistency, respecting confidentiality, being an active participant, offering resources, practicing patience, promoting self-care, and leading by example, you can play a critical role in helping your teen navigate this process and achieve their goals. Remember, the ultimate goal is to support your teen in building resilience, emotional intelligence, and a positive sense of self, which will serve them well in their future personal and professional endeavors.