Debunking the Stigma Around Counseling

Going to the doctor or dentist is never fun—but it’s very normal and often necessary when something is wrong with your body. Unfortunately, when we need professional help and support for a mental health issue, we might resist visiting a psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor due to societal stigma. But therapy and counseling can be extremely beneficial for your teen if they need help. Here are some ways you can help your teen feel at ease about going to a counseling session.

Let Them Know They’re Not Alone

Two friends on the hood of a car

Image Credit: Greg Raines

Your teen might feel nervous about going to a counseling session, especially if they feel like it’s out of the ordinary. Explain to your teen that 20% of teens live with a mental health condition and that two-thirds of teens who have mental health struggles use counseling services might help them feel less alone.

If statistics seem too abstract to help your teen feel at ease, finding them a support group or talking to their school counselor might aid them in connecting with other teens who are going through the counseling process too. It’s important to let your teen know that going to counseling isn’t “weird” or “strange” in order to break down stigma.

Address Feelings of Weakness

Going to counseling might make teens feel as though they look weak and that sticking it out when you have problems is seen as being “tough.” However, in the same way that going to the doctor or dentist doesn’t make a person weak, attending counseling is a healthy and important way to get help for treatable struggles. You can encourage your teen that they are making a positive choice.

Stress The Importance of Anonymity

Anonymous face in the shadows

Image Credit: Malik Earnest

The hallways of high school are often places of gossip. Another concern your teen might have about counseling is that others will talk about your teen’s problems. However, counseling is kept confidential and their counselor would never share discussions with anyone else.

Treat Their Concerns With Respect

While you don’t want your child to feel like they stand out because of their mental health issues, it’s important to not sweep their struggles under a rug. By encouraging open communication around mental health, a lot of the stigma surrounding counseling will lose its power. Be sure to take your teen’s concerns seriously—instead of assuming it’s simply a teenage phase or hormones. Listen to your teen when they are struggling and support them in getting the help they might need.

When you treat counseling as a normal process, your teen will feel much more comfortable in seeking professional guidance.

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