What to do when your child won’t access therapy

“I am really worried about my child’s mental health, but I don’t think they will agree to accessing therapy at this point, what can I do?”

This is a dilemma we hear from parents and carers quite often, and it’s a really difficult situation to be in. If a child or young person is clearly struggling with something but doesn’t want to access support, parents and carers can end up feeling very stuck.

However, there are ways you can help, both yourself and your child, to support and encourage them to reframe their thinking and consider accessing therapy.

1) Seek a session for yourself with a therapist

Parents/carers are usually the experts about their children, and sometimes just need a little help to work out the best way forward. Having a session with a therapist yourself can provide an opportunity to think collaboratively with a qualified therapist around how best to support your child’s mental health. It provides the extra thinking space for you and may even be enough to shift things to a place which seems much more manageable.

It can also help to remove the stigma around accessing therapy as your child is able to hear first-hand how therapy works and the positive, helpful nature of sessions which can help to de-mystify therapy, make it feel more accessible and in turn encourage your child to access mental health support themselves.

2) Talk your child about how they are feeling.

Helping your child to understand their feelings in a positive way can help them to open up and be better able to cope with difficult emotions.

Starting conversations about how they are feeling can be difficult, but it is important to let them know you’re there for them and are on their side, recognising that their feelings are valid. You might want to read NSPPC’s guide to helping children with anxiety or depression to learn more about how to approach this topic here.

3) Remove the stigma around therapy

Many children and young people may have a negative association with therapy, so the best way to approach this is by normalising therapy by letting them know that it is nothing to be ashamed of.

It can also help to tell and show them what they can expect of the therapy sessions in detail, whether this involves showing them images of the therapy rooms or who their therapist is, so it removes the idea that therapy is ‘scary’.

How we can help

At the Retreat Clinics, it’s possible to arrange appointments with one of our therapists to talk about your child, without them needing to attend themselves.

These sessions are an opportunity for you and a qualified therapist to think together, explore options and work out ways to support your child.

If you would like to find more about how therapy could help you and your child, or if you’d like further information about the types of therapy that are available at our clinics in York, Manchester or online then please get in touch by using the form below, or emailing york@theretreatclinics.org.uk or manchester@theretreatclinics.org.uk.