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How to Talk to Your Parents About Seeing a Counselor

Something might feel a bit off. You are struggling in school for the first time or just not wanting to do the things you used to enjoy. You might be feeling nervous all the time and struggling to control your continuous anxiety. You, as a child or teen, could be experiencing something that you think may be improved or eliminated by speaking to a counselor. To see a counselor, one of the first steps is talking to your parents, guardian, teacher, or another authority figure in your life, and this can be scary! While I don’t know you or your parents specifically to know what fears you may have to talk to them,  I can be a help in how you can speak to them about seeing a counselor. Here are some tips on having that tough conversation. 

Setting Up the Conversation With Your Parents

If you’re ready to have this conversation with your parents, carve out a specific time to do so! This could be in the form of sending a text to your parents about wanting to talk or it could be mentioning it to them a day or two before. When talking to your parents in person, make sure to pick a time that you believe your parents will be most able to listen to you and talk for an extended amount of time. A good time to talk to them could be during a car ride, after dinner, or during an activity where it is just you and your parents. Now sometimes speaking in person about this topic can be too overwhelming, so you could write a letter or text to your parents. You know your parents best. Choose a way to communicate that will work best for both of you!

Formulating What You Are Going to Say

When you talk to your parents, you should generally tell them what is going on and let them know that you think that you might benefit from seeing a counselor. Here are some guidelines for what you might say in the conversation with your parents or letter to your parents:

  1. Acknowledge what has been occurring at home. Depending on what you have been struggling with this could be:
    •  “I know that I have been more stressed out recently”
    • “You’ve probably noticed that we’ve been fighting more”
    • “You’ve asked me what’s wrong and I haven’t been able to find the words to tell you”
  2. Talk about what you have been struggling with openly with your parents. Include symptoms such as increased nervousness, sadness, loneliness, irritation, and hopelessness. Bring up trouble sleeping or sleeping too much. If you have had trouble with schoolwork or if you have felt like you can no longer enjoy the things you used to, say this! This is not a full list of what you could discuss with your parents, but the most important thing is that you tell them what you have been struggling with. If you have been experiencing thoughts of suicide or thoughts of hurting yourself or others, please bring this up to your parents. Your safety is so important and it is crucial that you get the help you need.
  3. Talk to your parents about how long you have been experiencing these symptoms. This will help them better understand what you have been experiencing. Also, speak about what you have already tried to help these symptoms. Maybe you have been eating better, meditating, working on positive thinking, talking to friends or teachers, etc.
  4. If you have an idea about a counselor you want to work with, tell your parents!  There could be a few counselors in your area or there could be many. Finding a good counselor for you might sound scary, but it can be super simple. Resources such as Psychology Today and google searches can give you some good ideas. Your school counselor and primary care physician will also know of counselors in the area that may be helpful. Look for a person that works with people your age and that works with people who are struggling with what you are going through. If you can’t find a counselor before the conversation, you and your parents could look for one together. 
  5. Thank your parents for taking the time to read or listen to you.

This can be an uncomfortable and scary conversation to have with your parents. It takes a lot of courage and strength to tell your parents what has been occurring. You are strong!! If you talk to your parents about your mental health and seeing a counselor, they may want to explore other habits or coping skills that you could do before seeking out a counselor. This can be a good route to take, but keep them aware of how you are doing and if you still think you need to talk to a  counselor. If your parents don’t give you the response you wanted or if you don’t feel safe talking to them about this, then other options could be: speaking to your school counselor, a trusted teacher, a coach or an important authority figure in your life. If you are interested in finding a counselor and your family believes that is a good option, then feel free to contact me or other counselors at Lifeologie to see if we are the right fit for you.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), go to your local Emergency Room or call 911.


Ben Balke Counselor for teens in Grand Rapids MI Ada MI

Ben Balke, LLPC is a counselor at Lifeologie. He enjoys teen counseling and working with young adults as they discover who they are, learn to navigate school, and deal with social anxieties. He’s passionate about connecting with people and making sure they feel safe to work through whatever it is that is tangling them up.

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