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The Dos and Don’ts for Parents in Teen Family Therapy

The Do's and Don't for Parents in Teen Family Therapy

Parental involvement in teen family therapy sessions is essential to the adolescent healing journey. Nexus Teen Academy’s licensed professional counselor here shares the dos and don’ts for parents engaging in family therapy so that your teen gets increased effectiveness of family sessions, reduced relapse or worsening of the conditions, and better family dynamics. As a parent, you can help your child’s therapist set the stage for positive outcomes to help your teen lead a more productive and fulfilling life.

Parental involvement in teen family therapy sessions

Parental involvement in teen family therapy sessions

Understanding Teen Family Therapy

Family therapy is a form of talk therapy that seeks to solve mental health problems, and substance abuse problems caused primarily due to family conflict. This therapeutic process involves individual sessions with various family members, such as parents and caregivers, siblings, and other family members

The Dos for Parents in Teen Family Therapy

Family therapy is beneficial because it improves family dynamics, open communication, distress identification, tolerance, and positive interactions among various family members. Parents following the “DOs” during family therapy can expect improved teen behavior, mental health and overall well-being.

Establishing Open Communication

1. Open Communication is a fundamental part of the support structure you, as a parent, can offer your struggling teen. Effective communication enables family members and children to directly talk about difficult topics such as family dynamics, mental illness, and drug and substance use.

2. A family that fosters open talk communication can develop strategies to solve the issues they have discussed. It can be difficult to foster such an environment, especially where trust has been broken. Parents and guardians need to speak to their teens openly and actively to foster open communication.

3. Parents should use open-ended questions to let teens share their thoughts and experiences when conversing.

Examples of Open-Ended Questions

  • What could happen if You Skip your school?
  • I wonder why you are ignoring Jose.
  • How can we plan our weekend?
  • Tell me more about your day today.
  • In what way would you like to eat your dinner?
  • What would you do about your bad day?
  • What do you think about your elder brother?

Closed-ended questions may make your teen closed off and unable to share vital information since they do not feel like they have the opportunity to.

Examples of Close-Ended Questions

  • How was your day?
  • Are you sad?
  • What makes you mad?
  • Did you enjoy dinner?
  • Do you like your big brother?
  • Which is your favorite series?
  • Did you have fun playing at Noah’s house?
Encourage your teen to engage in family game night

Encourage your teen to engage in family game night

4. Another strategy to improve communication is incorporating some fun during conversations. Encourage your teen to engage in family game night, where they can share more about their struggles. Family play therapy will teach all these strategies and many more to ensure your family dynamics become better than ever.

Active Listening and Empathy

Active listening is the practice of listening to your teen’s perspective on issues. It will help you understand where they are coming from and why they may behave like they do. As a parent or guardian, your experiences in life may make you wonder why your teen makes certain decisions. Teens are still growing and need to feel understood and guided towards a good decision. Active listening can help you gain a perspective regarding certain issues you did not have before.

Some strategies you can utilize when actively listening include the following:

  • Having conversations with an open posture or inviting body language
  • Making eye contact
  • Speaking in an empathetic and non-judgemental tone
  • Indicating that you are listening by nodding
  • Observe your teen’s facial expressions.
  • Ask follow-up questions to let them know you were following.
  • Repeat what they said back to you to ensure there is no miscommunication.

Many parents have felt that active listening has helped to increase the bond with their teens while resolving any conflict that may have arisen.

Validating Emotions 

As a parent, you should acknowledge and validate your teen’s emotions. Validating a teen’s strong emotions without judgment will help them feel safe and seen. Many parents dismiss their teen’s emotions and destroy their teens’ trust. Since parents often have different experiences from their teens, it can be challenging to grasp what younger children might be going through. Talking to your teen about emotions and accepting when they have a different opinion from yours helps them become independent. As teens grow, they are stuck in an awkward stage where they see themselves as neither a child nor an adult.

If you invalidate their emotions, they are less likely to develop their independence since they will always second-guess their decisions and emotions. Teens must grow up to become independent and develop important life skills like assertiveness.

Consistency in Support 

Teens suffering from mental health issues need a strong support system. As a parent or guardian, you are usually the first line of support. In the teen’s therapy process, you and your teen will be taught how to support each other effectively as they receive the care they need. Some ways to support your teen, as taught in family therapy, include the following:

  • Being available
  • Encouraging positive views and outlooks
  • Avoid prying
  • Participate actively in your teen’s treatment journey
  • Encourage your teen to complete the assignments given

The Don’ts for Parents in Teen Family Therapy

The Don'ts for Parents in Teen Family Therapy

The Don’ts for Parents in Teen Family Therapy

Avoiding Blame and Criticism

Steering clear of assigning blame or criticism during individual sessions is fundamental to family therapy. Our experienced child therapist understands that sometimes you may feel like it is your teen’s fault when there is a conflict among family members; hence, we focus on collaborative problem-solving instead of assigning blame to each other. Blame makes family members resistant to collaboration since they feel like no matter what happens, they are to blame for the problems.

Family therapy needs to hold each party accountable for their actions without assigning blame. Most teen behavior is learned from society or family, and parents can often feel attacked when this issue is brought up. As a parent, you should make sure you can take accountability without deflecting or reassigning the responsibility. Once accountability has been understood, family therapy works immensely well.

Resisting The Urge to control 

It can be difficult knowing that some things are out of your control. As parents, you can feel like you know exactly what is wrong with your teen and what they need. This is not necessarily true. Teens are dynamic, and their needs change from time to time. During family therapy, you can explore certain conversations that may not need your direct input. It is important that you understand, not meddle and try to control the narrative. Allow your teen to express themselves in the best way possible to build confidence and trust in you. Do not overstep or meddle in their affairs.

For family therapy to work, your teen needs to feel like they have some control over how the therapy sessions are conducted. They should not feel like they have been forced to be there just because it is a family therapy session. To effectively help your teen, ask them how you can help them through the difficulties they are going through. This gesture will help them confide in you more since they know they can always receive a helping hand.

Minimizing Interference

Teens can sense when their parents are not being authentic or genuine. During family therapy, it is important that you let things play out without interference. Frequent interruptions cut short your teen’s line of thinking, and they may feel like they have not been given a chance to be expressive. If this happens, they will unlikely trust the process and resolve their issues.

You must allow your teen to be expressive with minimal interruptions.

Family therapy is beneficial in improving family dynamics, open communication, distress identification, and tolerance, and promoting positive interactions among various family members. You and your teen will work together during family therapy to improve their mental health and overall well-being.

How To Make Family Therapy More Effective

Parental involvement increases the likelihood of teen family therapy working. Here are a few reasons why you should be actively involved in your teen’s mental health treatment:

  • You get to fully understand your teen’s behavior and how you can support them. Consistent support for troubled teens may be the difference between recovery and relapse. Being involved in the treatment process will equip you with the necessary skills to support your teen fully.
  • Reduces issues of unworthiness and self-blame. Teens with mental health challenges often blame themselves for being weak or undeserving of love. Active participation in family therapy helps your teen develop confidence and feel loved due to your support. When you actively participate in family therapy, you will be seen more as a partner than an authority figure.
  • You will learn how to handle certain difficulties appropriately. Teens’ mental health treatment can be a challenging process. During family therapy, you will be equipped with skills to help you handle difficult situations effectively while balancing your emotional response.
  • Family therapy creates a neutral third space for you and your teen. The kid’s therapist thrives to create a neutral environment free from stressors. Actively participating in family therapy helps your teen associate the neutral third space with more positive outlooks. A positive outlook increases the effectiveness of therapy.

Better Family Dynamics, Better Mental Health

Better Family Dynamics, Better Mental Health

Better Family Dynamics, Better Mental Health

Since you fully understand the importance of family dynamics, we can expect to see better mental health in teens, the ultimate goal of family therapy. The other benefits of better dynamics between the kid and you include:

  • Conflict resolution: One of the most common issues in every family is conflict. Families are complex, and how each solves their problems differs. Using the conflict resolution approach makes teenagers feel understood and heard, enabling them to develop healthier problem-solving skills.
  • Solving communication issues: Another common issue in families entails communication. Kids often report feelings of being unheard and misunderstood. This may arise from parenting styles that evoke adolescent fear rather than empathy and understanding. One of the most important benefits is improved communication and active listening.
  • Mending broken relationships: As with most families, relationships among family members may dwindle and become nonexistent. Our therapist advises parents to mend such relationships and introduce a healthy dynamic between teenagers and family members.
  • Boundary setting: Teens and parents may struggle with boundary setting since most interactions may lead to crossing boundaries. It is healthy to set boundaries to help your teen’s mental health. If your teen does not like something, they may try to set a boundary with you. It is important to respect their boundaries as they would respect the ones you set.
  • Creating a functioning home environment: Talk therapy seeks to create an environment that nurtures positivity and functionality. Setting such goals will ensure all family members feel safe and secure within the home.
  • Analyzing and reshaping family dynamics: Complicated dynamics can be a source of stress for both you and your teen. Reshaping family dynamics encourages a positive outlook on teenage life.
  • Strength reinforcement: Therapy seeks to reinforce the strengths of each family member and integrate these strengths into the family dynamic. If your teen is great at cooking, nurturing this strength and improving their interaction with others is important. Identifying and reinforcing strengths can be beneficial in improving therapy outcomes.
  • Unpacking maladaptive family issues and developing healthy coping mechanisms: As a family, you should be able to identify maladaptive behaviors and encourage positive coping mechanisms. Teaching parents to identify certain issues equips them with the necessary skills to ensure their teen’s mental health improves.


As parents or guardians, there are several things you can do to help your teen during family therapy. First, you need to help set the goals of the therapy. This involves thinking about what positive outcomes you need to get out of the family therapy sessions. Setting goals, active listening, establishing open communication, validating emotions, and consistently supporting your teen are some techniques you can use to help your teen. Avoid assigning blame, interfering in therapy sessions, and controlling how your teen expresses themselves. If you deploy these strategies, you will have positive therapeutic outcomes. If you live in Cave Creek or Maricopa in Arizona, contact us at Teen Mental Health Treatment Center today for more information on family therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How do I find a qualified family therapist for my teen?

Finding a therapist for Teen CBT, dialectical behavior therapy or family therapy can be difficult and overwhelming. However, you can find the right teen’s therapist by asking their school psychologist or guidance counselor. They are better positioned to refer you to one of their colleagues. You can also find a therapist by asking your primary care doctor if you notice signs that your teen needs therapy. You may also look through an online directory or inquire about in-line therapists from your insurance provider.

2. Can parents continue to attend family therapy after their teen’s improvement?

Yes, parents may continue with therapy after their teen shows improvement. Therapy is a deeply personal journey that should continue if the parent feels they need to unpack and understand their own problems.

3. How can parents handle differences in parenting styles during therapy?

You should not let differences in parenting styles become an issue in the relationship. Listen to each other’s opinions and agree on the best way forward. Remember that you are on the same team and want what is best for your teens. Back each other up and agree on the consequences of certain actions. Be flexible and allow your partner to take the lead using their parenting style.

4. Can parents participate in family therapy sessions remotely?

Yes, parents may participate in family therapy remotely. However, if your teen has an in-person session, it is recommended that you join one. This helps with building trust and feeling seen and heard.

5. What if a parent disagrees with the therapist’s recommendations?

Some steps you may follow when there is a disagreement between the parent and the therapist’s recommendations include:

  • Understand the therapist’s perspective: Therapists do not give recommendations without evidence and analysis. Try to understand what led them to give such recommendations. Ask about their rationale, goals of their treatment plan, and risks of not following the plan.
  • Try to understand the parent’s perspective: Try to internalize their concerns, which may be due to their belief systems or parental preferences.
  • Find common ground and areas of agreement.
  • Negotiate a compromise on areas of disagreement.
  • If the disagreement persists, the parent may seek a second opinion.
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