Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


How to Talk With Your Parents About Getting Counseling

If your parents don't understand why you want counseling, read this.

Image by Mote Oo Education from Pixabay
Source: Image by Mote Oo Education from Pixabay

A lot of parents don't understand why you'd want to talk with a counselor. It might be they think they should be enough support for you, or they might not believe that getting counseling can help. There are countless reasons it can be hard to talk to your parent(s) about getting counseling, and hopefully, you'll find some advice here to make that conversation go better.

Is It Okay Not to Be Okay?

Telling your parent(s) that you want to talk with a counselor means letting them know something is not feeling okay in your life. That can be really scary, especially if you don't trust that they'll react well.

If they react by telling you that you shouldn't feel the way you do, or that your problems aren't real, that's called invalidating. It's the opposite of accepting how you feel or what you're going through.

The first thing to remember is that your feelings are always valid. After talking with a counselor, you might find that your thinking and feelings change. That's great. However, when a person is in distress, that's just a signal that they need some care and support. The bad feeling has a purpose, which is to let you know to get some help.

If your parent(s) react in this way, it's possible to respond to them by saying, "I wish I didn't feel like this too. That's exactly why I want to talk with a counselor."

If Your Parent(s) Thinks They're All the Support You Need

Some parents really wish they could help you, and they might feel worried about you wanting support from another adult. They might think it means they're failing as parents, or that it'll undermine your relationship with them.

In reality, some people are blessed with parents who are exceptionally warm, open, and empathetic. However, most of us aren't as lucky. We have parents who might get defensive, angry, or freaked out if they hear about our problems.

The good thing is that you don't need to tell your parent(s) that they're bad listeners to explain why you want to see a counselor. The truth is as simple as this: more support is better. By talking to a counselor, you'll get a new perspective or a different type of listening. It doesn't matter if your parents are great at this or awful. We all struggle sometimes, and getting extra help is never a bad idea.

How to Find a Good Counselor

The most important thing to know about finding a good counselor is that the right match is important. Some counselors are much better than others. Some can be good for one person, but not the next. There is good research that shows you will be able to predict if a counselor is a good match for you after one or two sessions. If someone isn't a good match, you should feel empowered to talk to someone else.

A good counselor is someone that you believe can help you. They are usually warm, authentic, and you feel that they understand you.

Your school or university might have counselors or psychologists available, or you might be able to find people through your insurance company. There are some free counseling communities where you can talk to volunteers (like Crisis Text Line or Co-Counseling), and there are some low-cost alternatives to therapy.

Hopefully, something in this post helps, and you're able to find the support you need.


Also see: Peer Collective (an affordable-alternative to therapy).

Duncan, B. L., Miller, S. D., Wampold, B. E., & Hubble, M. A. (2010). The heart and soul of change: Delivering what works in therapy. American Psychological Association.

More from Tim Desmond
More from Psychology Today
More from Tim Desmond
More from Psychology Today