Young Adult Refusing Mental Health Treatment
Encouraging therapy for a young adult or even a teenager who has previously taken medication for mental health problems but has since stopped and refuses treatment can be particularly challenging. Here are some strategies you can try:
Validate their experience: Start by acknowledging and validating your child's concerns about medication and treatment. Show empathy and understanding for their reservations or negative experiences, and assure them that therapy offers a different approach.
Discuss the limitations of medication alone: Explain that while medication can be beneficial for some individuals, it is often more effective when combined with therapy. Emphasize that therapy can provide additional tools and strategies for managing mental health concerns.
Share success stories: Share stories or testimonials of individuals who have experienced positive outcomes from therapy. Hearing about others who have benefited from therapy can help alleviate concerns and provide hope.
Highlight the benefits of therapy: Talk about the potential benefits of therapy, such as gaining insight into their emotions, developing coping skills, and improving overall well-being. Emphasize that therapy can provide a supportive environment for exploring and addressing their specific concerns.
Offer to help find a compatible therapist: Assist your child in finding a therapist who specializes in their specific mental health issues and who aligns with their preferences and values. Offer to help with the research, make phone calls, or accompany them to initial sessions.
Explore alternative therapy options: If your child is hesitant about traditional talk therapy, explore alternative therapy options. There are various modalities available, such as art therapy, music therapy, or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). They may be more open to trying these alternative approaches.
Encourage a trial period: Suggest that your child give therapy a trial period to see if it's a good fit for them. Assure them that they can reassess after a few sessions and make an informed decision about continuing or exploring other options
Emphasize the autonomy and control: Reinforce the idea that therapy is a collaborative process, where your child has control over their treatment goals, the pace of progress, and the therapist they work with. This may help alleviate concerns about feeling pressured or losing control.
Offer your support: Let your child know that you're there to support them throughout their therapy journey. Offer to accompany them to sessions, if they feel comfortable, or be available to talk and process their experiences.
Seek professional advice: Consult with mental health professionals who can provide guidance on how to approach your child's specific situation. They may have specific strategies or recommendations based on their expertise.
Remember, you cannot force someone to pursue therapy, especially if they are over 18 years old, and in many states even teenagers must consent to mental health treatment on a voluntary basis. It's important to respect their autonomy while continuing to express your concerns and offer support. Encourage open dialogue and be patient with their decision-making process. It may also be helpful to seek support for yourself as you navigate this challenging situation.
Contacting Youth Crisis Line can help in providing more personalized advice depending on your locality, condition of the person in need of mental health support, their age and other circumstances.