Many parents have experienced dragging their teen to counseling. Several reasons might cause a teen to struggle with going to therapy, such as:
- It feels weird being in a counselor’s office.
- The conversation is awkward and not genuine.
- And of course, teens are often very reluctant to talk about what is going on for them. Especially talking to adults!
However, online counseling can help break down these barriers.
It’s a tool where the therapist and client hold their session via video conference, instead of face-to-face in an office environment. This approach allows teens to “go to” and thrive with therapy, instead of only surviving sessions.
Are you a parent with a teen in counseling? Consider how online therapy could help.
A Familiar Setting
There are several benefits to online therapy, and one advantage of holding an online counseling session is that your teen can do so comfortably at home. Keep in mind, somewhere familiar and relaxing will help your teen to open up.
Think about it. In your own experience, have you ever felt a little tense in a new or unfamiliar setting, especially offices? So, when your teen goes to a therapist, especially initially, they are already on guard.
That stress decreases or disappears altogether when teens are at home. It’s helpful to coach your child on having an appropriate environment for the call, too (i.e., low noise level, minimal distractions, good internet connection, etc.), and to reassure them they’ll have the privacy they need.
Technology Is Second Nature
Teens are already very familiar with technology in general. It’s incredible how easily they can adapt and learn new apps or programs.
Having a face-to-face conversation may be more challenging for them than chatting online. They’re even more used to talking on video chat than making a phone call.
Teens are often used to video chatting with groups of friends. So, if the idea is to engage with teens so they actively participate in therapy, it makes sense to utilize tools they’re already familiar with.
The Perception of Control
Almost everyone wants to have control over their own life. This mindset certainly applies to teens who are always looking for more freedom. When a teen goes to therapy, though, it’s often not because they want to — but have to go.
They must ride in the car with you to the office. When it’s time for the appointment, they must walk through a door that they would rather not.
With online counseling, there is more of a perception of control. In theory, they could merely disconnect from the call if they wanted. Naturally, the hope is for teens to stick to the conversation.
However, just having that perception of control can help keep teens engaged.
Some Things to Consider
It’s important to note that although teens have the potential to thrive and engage with their therapists through online therapy, that isn’t always the case.
Unfortunately, too many teens live in home situations where they would rather not participate in online counseling. One reason is they can’t get any privacy to talk. Another is they might be embarrassed about where they live. And sadly, many teens have negative or abusive parents. They might hear what their teens say in a session and hold that against them.
If your teen is engaging in online counseling and you genuinely want them to get help, here are some ideas to support them.
- Give them their privacy. If teens have their room let them have the session there. Or, step outside while your teen has the call. If neither option is possible, both of you wear headphones. Or, you play music or watch a video while they’re talking.
- Create a space for their sessions. When it’s not possible to have a suitable background or your teen is very self-conscious, go to the park. They could have the call on a distant park bench while you wait in the car. If, by chance, you do accidentally catch a bit of the conversation, don’t act on that knowledge.
- Be respectful. The ability for your teen to have confidentiality with their therapist is crucial for the process to work. It could be that your child notices that you accidentally overheard something. If that happens, apologize and reinforce how you know it’s vital for those conversations to be confidential.
Online counseling is an excellent opportunity to engage teens in therapy who would otherwise be resistant.
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The COVID-19 health crisis is affecting all our lives, and many teenagers are having an especially difficult time. Symptoms of depression and anxiety are showing up in teens who feel isolated due to this pandemic. If your teenager is struggling right now, Blue Boat Counseling offers online counseling with teen therapists who can really help. Contact us today to schedule an online appointment with one of our Columbus therapists. We’re here to help your family and provide the support your teenager needs.