For the most part, I like to keep my personal life isolated from my public one. To put the most vulnerable of my experiences out there terrifies me but, surprisingly, empowers me as well. Here’s how I convinced my parents to let me go to therapy. I cannot guarantee that this will work with you, but I hope it does. If it doesn’t, you can manage to go behind their back as well.
I’ve wanted to go to therapy ever since I was 10, that’s seven years ago. I was struggling with a lot of things, and I still am. However, I felt like I could never ask my parents to take me as I felt like they would not take me seriously, for one. And for two, I was terrified of the conversation that must take place if I ever suggest therapy.
It got too much, and I had to take a step. What’s important to know is that our parents were raised in totally different mediums, and were raised at a time when therapists weren’t a thing and when a psychiatrist was known as ‘Doctor El-Maganeen’ (the Mad People Doctor). To get them to support your therapy journey, they have to unlearn what they know about mental health. It’s not only vocal unlearning of ‘oh, I know that therapy is not shameful’. It’s way more than that; it’s scrapping away layers and layers of mental repression and actually getting them to understand that all of us might be in need of therapy. It’s not your job to have them embark on this intellectual journey of learning all about mental health and help, you just have to communicate on their level.
Talk about different mental issues and how they could be treated very easily if addressed early, and how it’s so nice that now most parents allow their kids to go to therapy and they support them in their journey even though the parent might not be believing in therapy. Then, start paving the way for asking them. The first thing they’ll say is probably, ‘why? You’re doing great.’ Do not get angry or agitated and remember that you might need their (financial) support to heal. Try to remain calm and explain what you’re experiencing (and exaggerate in a realistic manner if you need to) and how this affects your life or makes you unhappy, and then proceed to tell them how you think therapy will help you. They need to understand. You can choose not to tell them about the issues directly and make something up or tell them they are genuinely struggling to talk about it if you don’t feel like sharing.
As for me, I told them that I’m struggling and it’s affecting my schoolwork, my sleep and my emotional health. Since they were experiencing the consequences of my very unstable emotions back then, they saw what I was talking about first hand.
If they, hopefully, support your decision to go, try to keep them involved or have your therapist do that for you. You have the right to choose what your therapist will tell them. Keeping them in the loop makes them sure that taking you to therapy was the right decision and that you’re actually making progress.
I’m fully aware that most of us go to therapy because of our parents, and it’s hard to believe that they may support your decision. You can give it a shot, who knows? Parents can be surprising sometimes. I’d say that when I was trying to convince them, I was not being a hundred percent truthful nor genuine. I was trying to get what I want. This is not about love or affection for you. Remember, it’s only about getting what you want. Please beware that these conversations can be very triggering, but it’s for the greater good.