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My Child Needs Therapy - Did I Fail As Their Parent?

mother laughing with her children

When a parent realizes their child needs therapy, it usually happens at the recommendation of a different medical provider or from a conversation with their child. More and more teenagers or even younger children are opening up a line of communication with their guardian in order to seek out therapy. Even if a parent agrees openly and signs their child up for therapy services, it can still spark feelings of confusion or discomfort in parents. It might even make you defensive or deny that your child needs therapy at all.

This feeling is actually pretty normal – and you’re not alone in it!

When a parent is faced with the reality that their child needs therapy services, it can be somewhat unsettling. It’s possible that this conversation with their child or their child’s doctor was unexpected and they need to process this new reality. The first aspect of this is to understand that your child needing or wanting therapy is not a failure on your part. Understanding that therapy is more common than it used to be is extremely important.

Depending on the belief system you have around therapy, this can be more difficult than it seems. Older generations are less likely to seek therapy services and believe that the need for therapy somehow equates to weakness. I typically see this a lot in the older generation because of their belief that they have to handle everything alone – the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality applies to more than just working.

dad carrying his two children

The questions that I typically pose to parents with this belief system are: Why do you think that needing help or not being able to handle everything alone is weakness? Why is being “weak” such a problem for you? What is your fear around being seen as “weak”?

The truth is, it takes a lot of bravery to recognize that you need a professional to help

handle the situation at hand. Despite the way that the older generation was taught, therapy isn’t a negative mark on your record as a parent or human. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or your child. It means that your child recognizes they need more help than you’re able to give them. Sure, you’re a great parent – but you’re not a trained therapist. More importantly, your child might not feel comfortable talking to you about the things they want to bring up in therapy. Maybe this thought brings up some red flags for you and makes you defensive, but children (especially teenagers) have a mindset that the adults in their life can’t relate to their problems or what they’re feeling.

As a therapist, my message to all parents is to take the time to understand that therapy is essential for some children. It’s also important to remember that the success of your child’s therapy is also dependent on your response to them attending. If you badger them after appointments to tell you what they talked about or try to control their treatment, it could hinder any progress that is being made. Have open conversations with your child and their therapist about what your expectations are for their treatment.

If your child has started talking about seeking therapy, let the therapists at Mindsight help today!

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Shelby Case is a clinician offering in-person sessions at our Louisville office or telehealth sessions! She strives to make long-lasting connections with her clients in order to facilitate positive change. As a well-known homebody, Shelby enjoys living a cozy life outside of her time working by focusing on hobbies, spending time with her spouse, getting overly invested in TV shows, or cuddling with one of her cats.

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