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Family Therapy I Don’t Want To Go To Therapy

Family Therapy

I Don’t Want To Go To Therapy

Family Therapy

Why it’s so hard to get your children to attend?

Family Therapy and the resistance to it. It’s hard enough to get adults to family therapy much less the children. The stigmas of therapy stop most from dialing the phone to make an appointment. Family counseling can be hard work. It reveals at times insecurities, fears and conditioning that we must see in order to bring about effective change. As the parent you may wonder how you will ever get your children to attend counseling.

It is not surprising that kids do not want to attend therapy. The resistance only escalates when they have a skewed understanding of what family therapy consist of. Children may feel that being dragged into therapy means they have done something wrong. Therapy to them feels like they are headed to the medical doctor for a shot. Explain to them that your going to get advice so that the family can communicate better and be more peaceful.

Family Therapy

Engaging All of The Members

How do we go about engaging children and other members to be a part of the process? The following is a map to help you understand what does not work.

  • Not telling the child that they are going to session. This is mainly because the adults do not want to deal with it and so they surprise them only to make matters worse. Rule number 1 (don’t surprise teens. It does not work).
  • Using the child’s symptoms as a way to threaten them to go to therapy. A mother might say, “If you do not stop acting up then your going to be forced to go see Sally.” I have now become the adult that they perceive blames and shames them. It is next to impossible to work with your child when they see me as the disciplinarian.
  • Many parents are so afraid of attending that they literally drop the child off and return for the pick up. I make it a point to touch base with the parent to model that this is not leading by example.

Appropriate Ways to Tell your Child

  • Just be brutally honest with your teen. They appreciate that a lot more. Tell them that you think having an outside observer can be beneficial
  • Let them know that it is not their fault. Everyone is attending to work on the family.
Family Therapy
Family Therapy

How do we go about engaging children and other members to be a part of the process? The following is a map to help you understand what does not work.

  • Not telling the child that they are going to session. This is mainly because the adults do not want to deal with it and so they surprise them only to make matters worse. Rule number 1 (don’t surprise teens. It does not work).
  • Using the child’s symptoms as a way to threaten them to go to therapy. A mother might say, “If you do not stop acting up then your going to be forced to go see Sally.” I have now become the adult that they perceive blames and shames them. It is next to impossible to work with your child when they see me as the disciplinarian.
  • Many parents are so afraid of attending that they literally drop the child off and return for the pick up. I make it a point to touch base with the parent to model that this is not leading by example.

Appropriate Ways to Tell your Child

  • Just be brutally honest with your teen. They appreciate that a lot more. Tell them that you think having an outside observer can be beneficial
  • Let them know that it is not their fault. Everyone is attending to work on the family.

Family Therapy

How the Parent Can Approach Attending

It’s important that parents help to normalize the therapy process. Kids will embrace counseling faster when the parents discuss therapy as a natural and healthy way for people to seek help and understanding. Refrain from telling your teen or child that they need help badly. These comments make your child feel they are responsible for the problems going on within the family. Be light about therapy and your children will follow along. If you make it sound heavy then they will resist.

Be very supportive. It’s important to let your child know therapy is a place that they can feel safe to open up and talk about their feelings and not be judged or worry about what you as the parent will think.

Discuss with the therapist the resistance your teen or child is having about coming to the session. That way the therapist is aware and can assist out the gate to help make the transition smooth. I have been working with teens and children in counseling for over 14 years. I understand resistance and it is one area that I thrive in. The ability to connect with a child or teen first session is vital and sets the course for how well they are going to interact. They must establish a rapport with the therapist so they will open up and feel safe.

How to Set up the Frame Work for Family Therapy

Before the initial session if I know that the child is resistant I can assist you in understanding and utilizing effective ways to help them attend. During the sessions I may seek to work with just the child in order to establish the rapport. Not all sessions will be geared for their ears to hear.

Change will happen but the seeds are planted in therapy and they blossom when the skills or newly learned behaviors are practiced at home. You must be committed to the follow through and implementation of these skills while at home in between therapy.

If we see extremely high resistance than maybe the best course of action is to hold off unless the issue is of extreme urgency. Some of these issue that may require therapy now would relate to: child depression, isolation, suspected drug use, conduct disorder, feelings of suicide and a few other issues that require immediate intervention.

It makes total sense that a child or teen would be resistant to therapy. However, you as the parents play a vital role in helping to set up the frame work that will allow the process to be less intimidating and scary. Remember to be very supportive and communicate with the therapist regularly. Showing them that therapy is for the brave and that it is very helpful will go a long way in modeling the benefits and gains family counseling and children’s or teen counseling can have.