Nadia is a mother to Jeremy, 17 years old, who has been involved with many cases of violent activities in school. The recent of which is bullying other students and attending gym classes under the influence of alcohol to which resulted in a brawl with other students. After meeting with the guidance counselor, she was advised that Jeremy needs counseling to help out with whatever is troubling him.
“Raising teenagers can be challenging. The world is so different nowadays. These kids have to so much to deal with, it is no wonder they feel grown-ups don’t understand.” says Andrea Vargas LMHC. For parents, it is very difficult to see their sons and daughters go to difficult life situations, especially getting involved with drugs, alcohol, violent activities like bullying or criminal acts. Whether the child is a victim or the perpetrator, counseling may help them discover their inner and deeper problems and will learn to find ways to resolve it.
Parents should meet with the counselor first
If this is the first time that a teen will need to see a counselor, parents should meet with the counselor first. The purpose of which is to have a formal session with the counselor and share the story and their family life, in the point of view of parents. This way, the counselor will have a first-hand discussion of the problems of the teenager and be ahead of diagnosis on what is the real situation. The dilemma of having the session with the teenager first, instead of the parents, is that the whole encounter will be an elaboration on the complaints of the teenager towards their parent. This can lose focus on the part of the counselor and can shift the whole counseling process in determining the problem of the teenager.
Online therapy vs personal appointments
Now that the counselor knows what to expect of the teenager during their first meeting, he/she can devise the correct approach to prevent stigmatization and to encourage attendance and compliance to further sessions in the future. It’s a fact that society still has this stigma label on persons facing counseling sessions or psychological help, and this can be a major hurdle in the treatment and recovery phases of the individual. If the counselor sees that the case can be carried out through online therapy to lessen the impact of stigmatization, this can be done as it is already an accepted mode of psychological treatment. But of course, “This kind of effort takes a fair amount of commitment and understanding of the online world.” John M. Grohol, Psy.D. explains. However, if the case requires a tough and more strict supervision to ensure that counseling procedures are carried out, then a one-on-one and personal appointments are still the recommended intervention.
Parents should attend sessions too
There will be sessions that parents are required to be present and it is advisable that this is observed and followed through. This is the time that parents and teenagers are able to talk about their problems in the presence of a counselor who can guide them and help each other in looking at the concerned issues and find ways to solve them.
Counseling empowers the teenager and parents
Parents need to understand too that going to a counselor will help them find positive working solutions for future problems they will encounter. Counseling does not mean immediate solutions to the problem at hand, but also to provide the family with tools and skills on how to manage and handle stressful conditions if encountered once again in the future. That is why Sarah Rumpf, MA, LPCC said, “Counseling is an investment that requires commitment. You will be spending time, money, and emotional energy to process and/or solve problems.”
In conclusion, parents should not be alarmed and take this as a negative outlook. Counseling services have been proven to help teenagers correct antisocial behaviors and find meaning in their lives. Parents should not deprive their children of the counseling services with the thought that this only happens to “persons who are mentally sick”. It is acceptable that denial sets in at first, but parents should have a wider perspective on how to approach their troubled teenagers.