Making the decision to start therapy is great! Everyone can benefit from it. The struggle of being a teen wanting therapy is that you need consent from your parents or guardian in order to start it. For some teens, their parental figures are easy to talk to and will completely understand. Other parental figures may not support mental health treatment or may not believe that you need it. Or maybe you’ve just never spoken to your parents/guardians about your deeply personal feelings/thoughts and you feel awkward talking to them about it.
Here are some ways to talk to your parents about wanting to start therapy:
Prepare yourself for the conversation by really thinking through what you want therapy for. Is it to have extra support? Or to have someone neutral to talk to? To help you figure out why you feel or think a certain way? Or to work towards specific goals with someone who is trained to help you reach them? In order to explain to your parents why you want therapy, you have to be aware of the reasons why you want it.
If you’re really nervous, writing out what you want to say is SO helpful. It doesn’t need to be a big essay! It can be bullet points or random keywords that help you remember what your reasons are for having this talk. When some people get nervous, they tend to lose their train of thought and then lose their confidence. Having your own cheat sheet will help you prevent you from blanking out.
If you have a friend that you trust and feel comfortable with, see if they will let you practice what you want to say with them. Just like everything else in life, practice increases your confidence and will help you get familiar with saying the words out loud.
If you approach your parents/guardians in a calm tone and using assertive communication skills (making eye contact, standing/sitting up straight, using a confident tone), then it’s more likely that the adults in your life will listen to you and take you seriously.
It’s helpful to be able to give your parents/guardian some specific examples of what you’re going through that made you decide to ask for therapy. If there isn’t a lot of trust with them, you don’t have to get too personal. You can say something like “I haven’t been feeling like myself for awhile now and I want to talk to a professional about it.” Or “I’ve noticed that I’ve been more anxious lately and I’m not sure why.” Some people find it easier to talk about their physical symptoms, so you can say “It’s been hard to fall asleep lately. My mind won’t slow down. I’ve been struggling with feeling tired all the time and want help with changing that.”
Google keywords like “therapy for teens in ‘my city/state’” or check out therapists on social media. The therapist has to be licensed in the state you currently live in or they can’t see you for therapy (licensing laws). See if there’s anyone you connect with. Then provide that info to your parent/guardian so you can appear more prepared and have the information ready to schedule a session. Here is some more info on how to find a therapist: https://thetherapysuitepllc.com/how-to-find-a-therapist/
If you feel way too anxious to even have this talk with them, you can do a few of the steps above. Instead of talking to the adults in your life about wanting therapy, you can write them a letter or email explaining your reasons why. Then you have time to fully form your thoughts and your parents/guardians have time to process your thoughts before you all talk about it. As a North Carolina therapist specializing in anxiety, I encourage you to advocate for yourself. You are amazing for wanting to take the time to work on yourself in therapy! Good luck with this process!!