How to Support your Teen in Counseling

28 January 2017

How to Support your Teen in Counseling.

By the time you decide to seek counseling for your teen, you are probably concerned about them.  You may be wondering what your role is as the parent and how you can help support them in getting the help they need.  Below are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Finding a Counselor. Try and involve your teen if possible in selecting the counselor that they will see.  You can do the legwork by getting a few recommendations and narrowing it down to a few counselors that you like, but then give some names to your teen and let your teen look at their websites to let you know which ones they think will be a good fit for them.  If your teen isn’t interested in doing this, you can still involve them by letting them know that you want to find a counselor that they will like and feel comfortable with and that you’ll be asking them after the first few sessions whether they think the counselor is right for them.  When looking for a counselor be sure to find one that has experience with and enjoys working with teens.  Counselors that work with teens have to be able to connect with them to build the necessarily trust, especially if the teen is hesitant or not sure they even want to be in counseling.
  1. Talk to them about counseling. Even if your teen reached out to you to ask about counseling be sure that you are sending the right messages about counseling. It is important that the teen doesn’t feel that they are going to counseling to be “fixed” or because of something being “wrong” with them.   Let them know that counseling can give them some tools to manage their challenges and to provide them with support.  If the issues are around their relationship with you, you can let them know that you yourself are open to learning new tools are willing to make changes to improve things too.
  2. Confidentiality. Privacy and trust are highly important to teens. If your teen thinks that their  counselor is going to tell you everything discussed in session, counseling may not be very effective.  As the parent, you are entitled and should know about the teen’s progress in counseling and if there is anything that impacts the home and family relationships.  At the same however, the teen needs to feel that they can trust the counselor to keep things confidential.  The counselor will spend time during the intake session explaining how they will address the issue of keeping the teen’s confidentiality while still providing parents with updates and information that they need to know which usually involves safety issues.
  1. Parent Participation. Counselors will have different approaches when working with teens. Some will have little to no contact with the parents and will simply see the teen individually, while others will have you participate in some sessions, or attend each session for a short time.  A large part of this will depend on whether the teen needs individual counseling or whether some family counseling is part of the treatment plan. If you believe that family counseling will be helpful or if you wish to be more involved be sure to let the counselor know.
  1. Checking in with your teen. While you don’t want to quiz them after each session, you do want to ask periodically how counseling is going.  A good way to approach this is to ask them about the process of counseling rather than the content of sessions.  Examples would be whether they feel that counseling is helpful, do they wish to continue, do they feel comfortable with their counselor.

Bina Bird, MA,. LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving Haslet, TX and the surrounding DFW areas.  Learn more at or call 817.676.8858 for a free phone consultation.  My specialties are mom's across the lifespan-pregnancy and post partum depression, anxiety, relationship issues, empty nest adjustment; preteens/teens, and couples. 

Disclaimer: The content provided here is intended for informational purposes only. Reading articles and content on this website does not constitute a therapeutic relationship.