How To Ask Your Parents For Therapy

Asma Rehman, LPC

A stock photo of a young woman looking thoughtful in black and white.Making the choice to start therapy is a huge one. It’s an incredibly courageous thing to prioritize your mental health at such a young age. The skills you learn in therapy can be a foundation for you as you grow and settle into your adult life. Sometimes, making the decision to go to therapy isn’t the hardest part of the process, though – it’s getting your parents to agree.

Asking your parents for therapy can be complex.

Though getting help for your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of, there is still a stigma about mental health treatment that is hard for some folks to overcome. There are many communities that have been mistreated by professionals claiming to help, so sometimes people are wary of the assistance that therapists have to offer. Some people don’t understand how mental health works, which adds to the confusion.

It can sometimes be difficult to convince people about mental health, which is why it’s even more important that family and friends know how to talk about it. Check out our blog post: How to Explain to Your Loved Ones That You Are Receiving Counseling Services to learn how to start the conversation in a way that leaves you feeling confident and in control.

Why it’s hard to talk to parents about mental health

If you’re intimidated by the thought of talking to your parents or caregiver about your mental health or your need for therapy, you’re not alone. This subject is not an easy one to talk about, for a lot of reasons.  Here are a few of the big reasons why asking your parents for therapy is hard:

Asking for help can be scary or embarrassing A stock photo of a young man with dark hair in a denim jacket.

It can be frightening to be struggling with your mental health, especially when you’re young. It’s often tempting to blame yourself, but remember that any mental health issues you’re facing are not your fault. There are lots of reasons for mental health struggles, and there are also lots of options to help you feel better.

It can also feel embarrassing to admit that something is wrong, especially with your mental health. Remember that there are lots of other people out there who are also struggling with their mental health – you are not alone, and you have nothing to be embarrassed about.

It can bring up lots of feelings

Talking about mental health with anyone can be difficult, but there’s another layer of vulnerability in talking with your caregiver or parent. Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that they’ll be talked about in therapy, or that their parenting choices will be under attack. They may fear that something they’ve done has led to you needing therapy.

Parenting is hard, and it can be painful to have someone criticize how you parent, even indirectly. Everyone has feelings, and your parents are allowed to have their own feelings about you asking for therapy. Expect that feelings will come up during the conversation.

Therapy can be expensive

Unfortunately, therapy can be an expensive prospect. Some therapists offer sliding scale spots for folks who can’t afford the hourly rate. Depending on your family’s insurance plan, or lack thereof, the cost may change. Many therapists, including our Houston clinicians, work with insurance to keep costs down for folks going to therapy.

It might be helpful to call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask about the coverage for mental health services on your plan, so you have more information when you talk to your parents.

Mental health is misunderstood

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about therapy and mental health in general, and many people don’t realize that what they believe is not true. For whatever reason, some people aren’t supportive of the idea of getting treatment for mental health issues. Many people have a painful personal history with mental health themselves or in their family. They may have a misunderstanding of the severity of mental health issues or how mental health treatment works. Try to see their perspective with compassion, because this can be hard to talk about.A stock photo of a teen girl and her mother looking at a computer while sititng at a table.

Tips for asking your parents for therapy

Not every situation is the same, and you know your family dynamic best. These suggestions may be helpful to you when you ask your parents for therapy, and they may not all be a good fit. Depending on where you live, the law may allow you to get therapy under the age of 18 without parental consent, so if these tips don’t help, that can be something you look into next.

Explain why you need therapy

Your parents may be hesitant because they don’t understand your reasons for wanting to go to therapy. If you can explain to them why you feel you need to work with a therapist, you may have better luck getting them to agree.

They may ask why you need to go to therapy now. If there’s a pressing issue or event that has drawn you to seek therapy, that may be the reason why. For others, it may just feel like the right time or there may be something you’ve been struggling with for a long time. Either way, you deserve to get the help you’re looking for.

You don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty details of what exactly is bringing you to therapy with anyone but your therapist. There are things you can keep private if you don’t want to talk to your parents about them, even when asking for therapy. You can keep things vague instead of going into details.

Do some research

It’s always helpful to have as much information as possible to support your position, so doing some research before approaching your guardians is a good idea.

You can learn about the different approaches to therapy and mental health treatment to decide what works best for you. You can research therapists in the area that specialize in the issue bringing you to therapy. As mentioned above, it can also be helpful to do some research on the costs and your insurance coverage so you can answer their questions about that aspect of the process.

Keep a note on your phone to jot down things to say to your parents as you think of them, so you can refer back later. It might even be helpful for you to write out a full script of what to say to your parents and rehearse it if that helps you prepare.

Communicate in a way that makes you comfortable A stock photo of a young Asian man turning and looking back at the camera.

Lots of advice would say that important conversations should be had face to face, in person. There’s nothing wrong with communicating in a way that makes you feel comfortable, though. There are no extra points for asking your parent or guardian in person.

Therapy may be able to help you build up your confidence and communication skills to a level where in the future, in-person conversations are your preferred method, but if you are intimidated by the idea of an in-person discussion, try talking over the phone or via text or email.

This conversation is about you, and so it should be done in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

Explain what you hope to get out of therapy

Your parents love you. Hearing what you hope to get from therapy or how you hope to feel afterward may be helpful in persuading them to let you go to therapy.

  • How do you hope to feel after going to therapy?
  • What skills are you hoping to gain?
  • What will change for you when this problem is no longer in your way?

The people who love you want the best for you, and hearing exactly how therapy could make a difference for you can be persuasive.

Bring in another trusted adult

If you anticipate that your parents are going to be a hard sell, try asking another adult for help or support in having this conversation. Maybe there’s a counselor at your school that could set up a meeting with you and your parents so they can be present and answer questions too. Or perhaps you have an aunt, uncle, cousin, sibling, grandparent, godparent, or even the parent of a friend who can help you talk to your parents or find more resources for you and your family. You don’t have to do this alone.

Are you interested in starting therapy for your mental health? Learn more about the services we offer and our team of mental health professionals, or get in touch with our office here.

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