Parent & Teen Counselling – Working Together

The challenges of the teenage years can put a strain on even the most loving and connected of parent/teen relationships. Often as parents we see our child struggling with their mental health and want to show our support for them, but maybe we are not sure of the best ways to help. Our suggestions don’t seem to resonate or they feel we do not really understand what they are going through. Frequent displays of irritability, anxiety, depression, isolation or anger in our adolescent child can make parent-teen relationships challenging to maintain, especially if we are also triggered by their behaviour or we are going through our own challenges in life.

This is where working together in the therapy room through duo counselling can make a real difference. Learning to listen to each other, see each other’s points of view and developing a good flow of communication between you is just one benefit. With duo counselling the aim is to improve your relationship in the long term, deepen your connection and get to a place where you can understand and respect each other’s needs. Building this foundation can set you in good stead for the coming years as you transition into an adult/adult relationship.

The responsibility of raising teenagers is immense and requires a great deal of patience and imagination, especially when our child is struggling with emotional pain and mental health difficulties. Maybe there are additional challenges such as neurodiversity, trauma, addiction, bereavement, sexuality or gender identity to navigate. To add to this, your relationship occurs within the complexity of the family where every member has their own individual pressures, needs, priorities and unique life experiences.

There may be unresolved issues from the past that need to be healed. These factors often become overwhelming for individual family members and put a strain on family dynamics. Keeping communication channels open through all of this is important.

Counselling Provides a Safe environment for You to Communicate

Good communication is a foundation of good relationships, yet it is something many of us struggle with. This is especially the case in the face of an emotional crisis. As a duo counsellor working primarily with parents and teens I aim to create a safe, non-judgmental and supportive environment for both of you, away from the daily pressures of life, where you can explore your relationship and through honest and open communication, find positive ways to move forward. Part of counselling may also involve helping you to develop strategies and approaches together that work for your unique relationship.

Counselling is often an experience of discovery and learning. Gaining communication skills can assist you to relate more effectively with each other, even through times of conflict or crisis, and creates feelings of safety and security. This sense of safety allows thoughts and emotions to be expressed and heard. When this happens teenagers are more likely to talk with you about the problems they are facing and let you know the kinds of support they need. It may be that a mix of individual counselling sessions for your teen are helpful alongside duo counselling.

Following Trauma

Parent and teen counselling can help following traumatic events such as being a victim of crime, a sudden bereavement or diagnosis of a life limiting illness. Finding ways to move through the emotional challenges together can strengthen and deepen your relationship instead of feeling alone and isolated.

Coming to Terms with the Past

Difficult experiences in a child’s early years frequently come to the fore in adolescence and can result in a breakdown in family relationships as intense or challenging emotions arise. There are so many possibilities here but some of these experiences could include an earlier divorce or separation, estrangement from an absent parent, the loss of a beloved grandparent, adoption, homelessness, immigration or relocation, or a parent with health difficulties, addiction or a mental health problem. Young children usually do not have the capacity to deal with experiences such as these at the time and it is only later that behavioural, psychological or emotional problems reveal themselves.

Acceptance and Moving Forward

Duo counselling can help you accept where you both are emotionally right now and gradually find a way forward that works for both of you. Acceptance of each other’s differences and approaches to life can be of significant benefit to your relationship. Children and young people want to feel accepted for who they are and respected for their own ways of doing things, but this can be difficult for parents. We want to protect them from pain and what we see as mistakes, yet these are all part of growing up and maturing. Just like a toddler learning to walk and talk, many of the concerns teenagers face are brand new. New relationships, new powerful emotional experiences, a changing body, new social challenges, and big decisions to make about the future. This can leave them feeling insecure and uncertain. On the reverse, we as parents want to feel that we are heard and respected also. The safe space of the counselling room provides an opportunity to breathe and allows you both to explore thoughts and feelings as you face all of this newness together and find resolution where it’s needed.