Meet the Family Therapist & Dating Coach Forum Leader
Shirley Lebovics, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Beverly Hills, California, where she treats individuals, families, and children with a wide variety of challenges. Her expertise is in the area of marriage counseling as well as domestic...
Our teenage son is going through a challenging phase and this is causing a great deal of stress at home.
We decided to go for family therapy but my son refuses to go along with us. He says that we have problems and he doesn’t.
How can we get him to go for help?
Adolescence is a time of physiological and psychological turmoil in which a young person is craving many things. One powerful pull is a desire for autonomy and independence, ie being treated like an adult and having control over his choices.
Another strong need of the adolescent is approval from peers, i.e. fitting in with others his age as opposed to standing out and being seen as different.
The invitation to see a therapist might be met with strong resistance from a teenager, if he views it as a statement that he is different in some way. He may be afraid of being stigmatized or even shunned if anyone were to know. He may also view it as meaning something is “wrong” with him.
The best strategy is to offer it as an option, explain what therapy involves and implies. Dispel any notions that therapy means he is “crazy” or “troubled”. Frame it as a forum in which everyone voices what is and isn’t working well for them, in an effort to improve family communication and harmony. Never make it a power struggle or impose any pressure, as that will likely increase problems. Unless there are unusual extenuating circumstances (in which case a therapist can help guide a
parent) it’s wise to allow him to feel in charge of his decision.
Ultimately, a qualified therapist can offer tremendous help working with parents exclusively . Very often , change in the parental unit can lead to very positive change in the child.