I hear many reasons from parents about why they had such a hard time coming to counseling or approaching a therapist. As a parent myself, I understand these and have often felt them. However, also, as a parent, I have to put aside my own fears and stigmas and do what is best for my child.
Here are the top 10 reasons I hear for not going to counseling:
10. Only really emotionally disturbed people go to counseling
Truth - Counseling is for everyone, even counselors. The purpose of a counselor is to help their client achieve their goals. All of us have goals and when we have an advocate to partner with us on those goals, we can achieve them quicker and easier.
9. Counseling is too expensive
Truth - Yes, some counseling is expensive, but not all counseling has to be. Some insurance plans cover mental health, but if yours does not, you still have options. You can ask different counselors for their rates. Many counselors work off a sliding scale that is based on income. As an intern therapist (which are Master's level students working on their licensure), I often saw clients for $10 an hour.
8. I can't take off work every week to take my child to counseling
Truth - As a family therapist, I strongly value the family being present for sessions. Many family therapists and child therapists feel this way also. I work evening hours just for this reason. I also travel to pre-schools or other schools to see the child there so the parent does not have to leave work and bring the child to my office. Many counseling agencies also provide these services.
7. I don't want my child to think there is something wrong with them
Truth - I'm going to be honest with this one. Most kids already know that something is not right, or that something different is going on. The relief that I witness in a child when they know their parent has validated these feelings and made the child's wellness a priority is amazing. Often times, this is the beginning of healing for many children. When we as parents deny that something is going on, we hinder our child from growing and continue to allow the issues to occur.
6. I can fix it myself
Truth - Yes, there are a lot of things that a parent can do to help their child. But, there are also things that 1) you might not know how to do and 2) your child is going to hear and respond better to someone that is not their parent...especially teenagers.
5. It really isn't that bad, plenty of kids act worse
Truth - There are all levels of severity that I see in my office. I even see children for preventative work. A child (or adult) does not have to be at a certain level of "badness" to go to counseling. If there are things that are negatively influencing the child or family, a counselor can help.
4. He/She is too young to go
Truth - As a play therapist, I have training in infant and toddler counseling. I also work with foster families and adopted children. Research has shown that the earlier an issue is presented and worked on in counseling, the better long term results that occur. The longer a child has to develop bad habits, low self-esteem, negative coping skills, etc. the harder they are to correct.
Truth - If you use your insurance to pay for counseling your child will most likely have to be given a diagnosis so that insurance will see the counseling as medically necessary. However, if you look around you will be able to find counselors that do not bill through insurance and do not have to give a diagnosis to a young child.
2. I don't know who to go to
Truth - Unfortunately, this one does not have an easy answer. It takes some digging and time to find the best counselor for your child. There are many different types of counselors, all with unique personalities. This allows for all children to be able to have a counselor out there that fits with their personality and needs. You can look online for a list of Registered Play Therapist here. You can also check with your child's school counselor or school professionals on who they would recommend in your area.
1. I am just plain uncomfortable with the idea of counseling and somebody telling me how to raise my child.
Truth - It is okay to be uncomfortable and to have your guard up when starting counseling. You will need your "mommy radar" or "daddy radar" to help you know if you are finding the right counselor for your child. Ask a ton of questions and do your research. Also, if you are with a good counselor, they will not tell you how to raise your child, but rather give you option and new ideas that you can choose to try. A counselor is there to be your partner, helper, and advocate for your child and family. They are not their to condemn you or make you feel like a bad parent. A great counselor will help build you up so that you can be the best parent you can be for your child.
It doesn't hurt to check your options and see what is out there for your child. You might be surprised at all of the resources that are available. Also, if you are in my area, feel free to schedule a free interview/consultation. I offer a free 30 minute time to families that are unsure if counseling is a good fit for them. They can come in and hear more about what counseling I offer and see if their child could benefit or not. I find this gives parents the opportunity to "test the waters" without having to make a commitment right away.