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Teen resistant to therapy

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Wandasmom:
I need some help/advise for getting my 14 yr old son to therapy.

He was 12 when his dad died and neither he nor his brother wanted to do therapy but we attended an 8 week session for grieving kids/families.  Since then he has had meltdowns and temper tantrums sometimes resulting in broken doors and furniture.  The triggers are usually fights with his brother or difficulties with school work.  He is a slow worker and a bit of a perfectionist and gets frustrated about not getting assignments done.  Normally a good student, he struggled with a couple of classes this past year and when I asked for help from school, they did some tutoring and evaluations and concluded that he needs therapy for anxiety and depression.  Maybe I am in denial but I think that puberty and the immense homework load take some of the blame.  Anyway, he doesn't think therapy would be useful, detests talking about his feelings and has let me know that he absolutely won't go.  I have tried to convince him that it would help to get some coping mechanisms for stressful times but he doesn't buy it. If I don't do something to get help for him over the summer, I think we may have the same issues with school next year.
Anyone have any luck in getting a resistant teen to therapy? I don't want this to be another fight between us or a bad experience for him.

Julester3:
I would try to interview and screen some therapists and see if you can find a good fit. I had to do that with my older kid. I found a female therapist with a specialty in adolescence and grief and I felt was a good fit. I saw a few that I just knew wouldn't click with her.

Another suggestion is perhaps do you have a male figure your son would feel comfortable talking to, maybe? Maybe he's looking for a male connection and doesn't know how to vocalize it.

It's a shame they won't give the group a chance. In our group, I know it's really helped the middle school aged boys. They'd talk and share ideas about learning to control their anger or frustrations at group and the boys talked about how sports was helpful. They said that like if you have a soccer net, kick the ball hard and in different ways helped them vent and think things over. Of course, if one doesn't have an athletic inclined kid, this advice is not that good.

I know some moms have bribed their kids to get them to therapy and it's worked to an extent and then it's figuring a buy in for the next gathering. Good luck - it's hard with teens generally. They are moving to independence but can't exactly work these things out adequately. They are more resistant to accepting or asking for help. I've also observed most people say that it may be much more difficult with boys because they are more resistant to sharing, talking, and emoting.

Wandasmom:
Thanks Julester for all the good suggestions. 
I will start to interview some therapists and even if he doesn't end up going, maybe I can get some help with coping as a parent. 
One of the kids at school who lost his dad went to the Experience Camp in Maine which is for boys who have lost a parent or guardian and he loved it.  It's a free camp and I tried to get them interested but neither wants to go.  They would rather stay home and be with their friends.

I think you are right that the combination of him being an independent teen and a non-communicative boy will make this challenging.  Thanks for the ideas and encouragement. 

RobFTC:
Hi Wandasmom,

My daughter was really resistant to seeing a counselor, due to a prior attempt failed due to a bad fit, but knew she was in trouble and wanted to get an antidepressant.  I supported that, but had the opinion that unless she was talking to a counselor, it was going to be tough to get a script for an antidepressant.  She's going when we can get in (booking is *SO* far ahead, it's tough), and it's hard to know if she's getting anything out of the sessions, but the rapport seems better.

I wonder if you can highlight some of the edge behaviours that are a problem, and let him know that he's got to make progress somehow, and that if he's not able to do it alone, he's going to need to try your way.  If you can talk to him well enough (and I know from experience how tough that can be), maybe you could brainstorm about what other things might work for him - self-help books, talking to mentors or friends, etc.

No idea if these ideas could work for you, but wanted to share them.

Take care,
Rob T

sojourner:
Sympathies, Wandasmom. All my kids have been in counseling and treatment for depression/anxiety, and it can be a hard row to hoe to find what works. Currently, one of my college-aged kids is again struggling, but is refusing any sort of treatment now.

I think Rob has some good suggestions. My approach recently has been pointing out things that must change, and while offering assistance in getting professional help and keeping that door open, also giving her the space to decide how she wants to address it. At her age, that's actually about the only viable option available.

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