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8 Ways to Sabotage Your Teen's Therapy

This is written for all the parents that want to sabotage their teen’s therapy. I realize many of you deeply care for your teen and want them to thrive. BUT if deep down you don’t want your child to get better, or you're simply looking for a way to waste your money on therapy, I would advise you do one or a combination of these things:

  1. Don’t tell your teen ahead of time that they are coming to therapy. Just surprise them by showing up at the therapist’s office. They love that.

  2. Don’t tell your teen why you are bringing them to therapy. It’s probably better that they think that they are crazy anyway; and you wouldn’t want to take the opportunity to talk to them about what is going on in life. Too much work.

  3. In fact, make therapy seem like a punishment. This will reinforce the power struggle many teens have with their parents, and will ensure they enter the room unwilling to engage.

  4. Pick a weird therapist your teen can’t connect with. They love this. They love spending an hour with an adult who is trying too hard or is way out of touch with young people. This will also ensure that if you ever have to take them to therapy again they will be prepared to hate it.

  5. After their session, bug them a lot about what they talked about. Sure, you’ve heard therapy is supposed to be a private, safe place. That’s for other people’s kids.

  6. Talk about how much the therapy is costing you. This way even if they end up liking therapy they will feel guilty and want to stop coming.

  7. Don’t be consistent with your appointments. Most humans thrive with consistency, but in this case it’s best to skip your teen’s sessions here and there. You don’t want them to get the idea that therapy is important, and you don’t want your teen to settle in to their therapy.

  8. End therapy before they are ready. This is a great choice when your teen has actually found someone they trust. And if you want to make it extra hard, tell them when they show up for their session that it’s their last time.

**As a bonus, add the expectation that they will be “fixed” in a month or two. This will ensure that YOU are frustrated too.

In my work with teens I see these therapy-sabotaging moves all too often. It makes me sad (among other things) to see young people who have such a capacity to get well and thrive not be given the proper chance to fully benefit from therapy.

Beginning therapy can be intimidating for anyone regardless of their age. It’s something new and unfamiliar. With a stranger. Taking your teen to a therapist can be a wonderful experience for your child and for the entire family. The way you set the tone for this experience and remain supportive throughout will help ensure that your teen can have a therapeutic environment to thrive in. Talk with your teen’s therapist on how to approach the “therapy conversation” with your teen; your child’s therapist is there to partner with you and help you navigate the hard conversations.

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