A lot of adults can find it difficult to attend therapy for the first time, so it should come as no surprise that teenagers can feel the same.
However, except for situations where your teen is at immediate risk of harm, being forced or coerced into therapy will often fail to provide the positive outcomes that you so sorely desire for them.
As psychologists, we rely on the expertise that our clients have about their own life, experiences, thoughts and behaviours. Even the best evidence-based treatments are unlikely to bring lasting change if a client is unwilling to engage, consider and apply the various skills and reflections to their situation. By contrast, in allowing time, and being patient for your teen to open up to the possibility of therapy, can lead to not only positive therapy experiences in the short term, but also encourage a lifetime of help-seeking when things get difficult or professional help is needed.
While the process can be difficult and distressing for parents, here are some ways to proceed if your teen is resistant to seeking help;
- Listen: In a gentle, non-judgemental conversation, find out what their concerns or reservations are. Many reasons may be valid or something you can help them to work through.
- Lead by example: Often parent-training and learning ways to interact with, coach and support your teen through difficult circumstances can be a great first step in supporting both your teen, and the whole family.
- Be prepared: If they start to consider the idea of therapy, providing information or showing your teen a photo of their psychologist or practice can reduce some of the initial uncertainty or anxiety about talking to someone they’ve never met before.
- Utilise online supports: Encourage your teen to use online, self-help or chat services available through various platforms. This can spark interest, promote understanding and build confidence to start with a psychologist. Helpful websites include;
Emily Bemmer (M Clin Psych, BSc (Hons – First Class)) is a psychologist who understands the importance of forming a genuine and caring therapeutic relationship and acknowledges the expertise and insight each client brings about their own lives and situation. She acknowledges therapy requires a collaborative and balanced approach, to utilise the warmth and support that sessions provide to explore difficult issues, tackle challenges, and implement strategies to work towards client goals.
Emily’s clinical training and experience has equipped her with skills in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health concerns for adults, children, and families, gaining experience across hospital, private practice, and research settings. Some of the areas she has worked with clients include depression, anxiety, emotional regulation, life transitions, social skills, and family dynamics.
In her work, Emily is committed to the use of evidence-based practices, in a way that is client-centred and modified to increase both engagement and tangible outcomes for clients. Emily is also committed to ongoing professional development through regular supervision, review of psychological literature, and research to ensure her clients receive the highest level of care.
Outside of work. Emily enjoys going for bushwalks, exploring new places, and spending time with friends and family.