Many young people struggle with how they feel. At an age when they are exploring exciting new opportunities and huge life choices, they might also be having problems with friends, family, or school. They might be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, angry, or scared, needing to talk to someone but not knowing how.
If you are worried about a young person in your family, you may have noticed a change in their behaviour or sensed they are struggling but feel uncertain about how you can help them. It may be that tensions are running high. Maybe it has become difficult to talk to them without it ending in an argument or them isolating themselves in their bedroom. It is so important to keep letting them know you care and are willing to help if you can. Listening to them and being empathetic rather than trying to find answers or offer solutions. Sometimes there might be someone else they can confide in, a relative or friend who they find it easy to talk to or has faced similar difficulties.
But sometimes no matter how much we love our children and try to help them, it can be hard to reach them when they are struggling. Friends and family can be a vital source of support and can help them cope with stressful situations, but sometimes young people can find it difficult to talk to people they know.
It is not easy talking about the things that are worrying them. Young people often feel they are being talked down to and are sensitive to feeling judged or disrespected because of their age. Counselling can help them talk things through in confidence (unless they disclose that their personal safety is at risk), and without making them feel judged. It can help them deal with issues and events and the effects they are having on their mental wellbeing.
If counselling is a path you consider for your child, it is important to be stay positive about it as an option and to be open to the fact your child might not ‘connect’ with the first counsellor they see. If that happens look for someone else, rather than giving up. Make sure you look for counsellors listed on a credible directory and registered with a suitable professional body. It is also important to remember they might feel more comfortable with an online service, rather than face-to-face, so explore this as an option with the counsellor you choose.
Counselling for young people is about working with them to sensitively explore their problems. Helping them to better understand their feelings, build resilience, and develop new coping skills, can enable them to manage the huge changes they are going through, make better sense of relationships and be more confident in who they are.