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Two tips for parents who are going to their first family counselling session with their teen

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If your teen is having some emotional or psychological problems that you don't understand and you have decided that the best way to help them would be to go for some family counselling sessions with them, here are some suggestions to keep in mind after you book your first appointment.

Be prepared to hear revelations from your teen that may upset you

At the counselling clinic, you should be prepared for the fact that your teen might confess to having done some things you don't approve of and that will upset you. For example, they might admit to having skipped a lot of school days without your knowledge or tell you that they tried alcohol. They may admit to doing these things in this environment, partly because they might feel you'll be less likely to get cross with them in front of the counsellor or because counsellors are good at encouraging clients to open up.

In either case, you must not react too strongly. Whilst hearing about your teen's poor decisions might initially be upsetting, their willingness to be honest about these actions is a positive thing that could turn out to be a stepping stone that will eventually result in them facing and healing whatever psychological problems they're experiencing. However, if when they confess to having done something bad, you cry or immediately start to criticise them, not only will they be far less likely to open up about their bad behaviour again but they will also probably refuse to have any more family counselling sessions with you. This could result in their psychological problems getting worse. As such, even if it's very difficult, you must try to be calm if they tell you upsetting things.

Follow the counsellor's lead during the sessions

It's important to let the counsellor take the lead during the sessions and to follow any suggestions they make. Whilst, as a parent, you might understandably feel that you know your child better than anyone and that you, therefore, know what's best for them, it's important to recognise that you decided to have family counselling because you and your teen need help to fix their problems.

Whilst the counsellor won't ever know your child as well as you do, they are experts when it comes to handling common family problems and as such, can almost certainly help you and your teen to start healing from whatever psychological wounds either of you has that are impacting your family life. However, in order for them to do this, you have to cooperate with and put your trust in them. By taking a step back, you can create space for the counsellor to guide you and your teen.

Reach out to a professional for more information about counselling.