Your child may feel comfortable talking with you or their friends, you know their history, and you trust and care about each other, so why go to a therapist?
What can a therapist do that a friend or family member can’t?
First, a therapist is confidential so your child doesn’t need to be worried that their stories and thoughts will spread to a wider social circle, (even if they “swear” their friend wouldn’t do that).
Additionally, a therapist is trained to recognize patterns, whether those are good or ones that don’t work well in their life. The therapist can then teach your child how to act against those unhelpful patterns they might have.
Friends and family may not be completely honest because they don’t want to hurt feelings. Therapists know how to say things that are meaningful, direct, and effective, yet aren’t so painful. A friend is also more likely to interrupt and offer his/her opinions throughout the conversation, which is not always the best. A family/friend is also usually unable to be objective since they share a relationship with your child.
Therapy focuses on your child. All that is required is that your child feels safe and comfortable and they share what they’re thinking. With a friend, they might interject the conversation with anecdotes about themselves and their difficulties, and this is not as helpful to your child.
Most importantly, a therapist can produce a safety net for your child to practice embracing emotions that they are not used to. A therapist also can provide many other safe resources for any other difficulties your child might be having outside of therapy time.
As a parent, you play an extremely important role in your child’s life and it can be tough to be left out of conversations they have with a therapist. Right now they are at a stage where its part of their development to want to become independent. That is tough. Therapists can be another supportive adult in their lives to help them build the skills they need to take on life’s challenges. Let the therapist also know your own concerns about your child if you feel your child is not bringing them up in therapy. If you and your child are having trouble communicating, the therapist can also be a safe person to help you make forward steps in your relationship with your child. Or they can even refer you a family therapist who can dedicate time to fostering a healthy family environment.
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