When children are resistant to counseling, it can be frustrating. You, as the parent, want them to be happy and healthy, and to be able to process their emotions well as they grow and experience new things in life. You feel that counseling will be able to offer them tools and techniques that will help them tackle the trials they are facing. But, they say they say they don’t want to and continue to refuse no matter what you say. This is a completely natural response. It can seem like an intimidating thing to do. Talking to a stranger about your feelings is hard and initially can feel scary.

It may help to have a conversation with your child when they are in a calm and open mood. Sometimes kids can’t exactly express their “why” for the choices they make or the things they say or do. So, rather than asking them “why”, see if you can have them talk about what their thoughts and feelings are surrounding the idea of counseling. What are the pros and cons of going? What do they think will happen if they go? Do they know why you want them to try counseling? Perhaps they can give you some insight into their world and what is making them reluctant. Once you understand their worries, you can address their concerns with facts about the experience that reduces their fears, helpful explanations that increase their understanding and problem solving together to make it a good experience for them. 

Sometimes giving the example of your “why” can help kids find their own. Also, it may be a matter of making it their idea or finding their currency. If there is something in it for them, they may be more likely to be willing to go, or they may just need to be able to talk themselves into going if it means they will be able to better manage something that they are struggling with. If they are into crafts or games, Resilience does a lot of play-based therapy, as children learn best when something is fun. We also have fidget toys for the clients to play with while they are in here, if a game doesn’t sound fun, as well as a piece of candy they get at the end of every session. 

We try to make sure that every client feels heard, understood, appreciated, and not forced to do or say anything while they are here. This is a safe space for them, so we will do our best to make sure they feel at ease. We operate under the idea that no client cares what we know until they know that we care, so we always make sure that the first thing we communicate in therapy is the fact that we, as therapists, care about each child, their health and success. We believe the number one success of therapy is the relationship that is developed between the therapist, client and family. We take the time, care and intentionality needed to build an individualized relationship that meets the unique needs of each client.


Written by Emily Brown