Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: A few months ago, our teenage daughter said she wanted to try therapy. She didn’t have any obviously threatening issues. We said, fine, here are some choices in our insurance plan, see who seems best to you, or just tell us how you want it to fit into your schedule and we’ll go from there.
Since then, she’s said nothing about it, and she seems fine — she’s still socializing, getting good grades, etc. We can’t tell if she is just being a changeable teen, or if she is rejecting help she really needs. Any suggestions?
Going From There
Dear Going: Ask her directly if she’s still interested in trying therapy, noting that you didn’t want to assume anything based on her decision not to follow up. It’s OK to be a little more proactive; if she says yes, she’s still interested, then say you’re going to book an intro appointment with one of the choices on your insurance plan, unless she says otherwise.
Even fully grown and independent adults struggle with those last steps of choosing a provider and making the time to go. It’s significant that she found the courage to ask. Make it easy for her now.
Re: Therapy: Finding a therapist can be challenging. When I started considering therapy, my parents told me they would help me out if I found someone. I searched online through numerous therapists, weighing specialties, costs and personal reviews. I ended up getting so overwhelmed that I just quit looking. No one asked or followed up with me.
It wasn’t until I started to get worse that I got help from someone else I knew who inquired with their former therapist to get recommendations for me. I was in my 20s, and if it was difficult for me, it could be the same for your daughter.
Also, you might inquire with her or your doctor for recommendations.
Dear Anonymous: Persuasive firsthand experience, thanks.
Dear Carolyn: As much as I dismissed my husband when he brought it up, I think I have to admit I’m addicted to my phone. I’ve tried leaving it in other rooms, having a set time to put it away at night, etc., but I still find myself reaching for it all the time. Any tips on how to put the phone down and not worry about not responding right away? For work/family purposes, putting it on silent isn’t really manageable.
Dear Phone Addict: Sure it is. Delete the apps you don’t need for work, put in controls so you can’t go back to them, and read this: https://bit.ly/2z11AIB. The people who developed some of these addictive features are themselves setting limits.
Everyone with a smartphone or with a kid with a smartphone, read this. Please.
Re: “isn’t really manageable”: You can silence alerts for all the other non-essential stuff and leave on for the work/family things. You have to want to do this, of course.
Me? I deal with people like this the same way: I stop what I’m saying or doing and either wait or go to another room. If they ask me to keep going, I say, “I’ll wait until I have your undivided attention.”
Dear Anonymous: Thank you. I’ve been doing the same.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.