When you see your teen suffering, your first instinct is to find her the help she needs. Whether she is suffering from depression, anxiety, anger issues, or addiction, the first steps to finding help can feel like tumbling down a steep hill. Of course, as a parent, you suffer along with your child. This can worsen when your teen is resistant against getting the help they need. Your daughter needs to want to get better, they need to to be willing to meet with the right psychologists, or be a part of a program that is meant to help them through their current issues. 

Why is Your Teen Resistant to Treatment?

Resistance to treatment shouldn’t always be surprising. Some teens will be reluctant to change the life they have grown accustomed to, one that they feel safe in even if it’s actually harmful to them. Other teens might feel ashamed of the life they are currently living in. Getting treatment means admitting that there is an issue that they cannot solve on their own. 

What are the common emotional responses you might hear or see from your teen when you have a discussion about finding assistance?

  • A teen that is embarrassed
  • She doesn’t believe that therapy is right for her
  • She doesn’t want to be on medication
  • She doesn’t think she needs help, or that her behavior isn’t harmful
  • She is defensive
  • She feels hopeless

Getting Your Teen to Understand

As much as it’s painful to see your child make such excuses, remember that to them, these emotional responses are valid. Try to understand why your child is showing resistance. Convincing any person, especially a teen, to do something they are ultimately against can take time and patience. Of course, you as a parent have the final say on your teen receives help. However, helping them understand that there is no need for embarrassment, defensiveness, or hopelessness. Reframe the way that treatment is seen. Explain to them that treatment isn’t a punishment. Understanding mental illness shouldn’t bring shame. 

What Can They Get Out of It?

At the end of the day, regardless of what you want for your teen, healing can only happen when your child knows that they want from treatment. Your community, family, friends, and church may all want happiness and stability for a teen, but unless your teen wants the same things, you can’t expect the best to come from treatment. Sit down with your daughter and ask her—framing treatment as a must—what she wants to get from treatment, therapy, or rehab? What does she expect? How would she like to change? Have an open discussion about her priorities. Be there for her as she begins to find her motivation for change.