How do I talk to my child about counselling?

If you are reading this page, chances are you have identified that your child/youth (or a child/youth in your care) may benefit from having additional support from a trusted adult to talk about their feelings and what they are going through. Kudos to you! Looking for help and support is often the first (and sometimes hardest) step to take. The fact that you are here means that you care about the child/youth’s wellbeing.

It is often difficult to approach the topic of counselling, or even to suggest the idea of counselling to a child/youth. Here are a few tips for you to consider:

  1. Find an appropriate time (and location) to approach the topic.
    • It usually does not help to yell out “YOU NEED COUNSELLING!!!” in the middle of a heated conversation with your child. In situations like these, the child/youth may easily interpret seeing a counsellor as a form of punishment, of that you are just trying to ‘offload’ them to someone else. Instead, find a calm time/location to talk to your child/youth about counselling.
  2. Explain what counselling is, and normalize it.
    • Let your child/youth know that counselling is where they can discuss any topic they wish with a professional and trusted adult. Common reasons youth reach out for counselling support may include, but are not limited to: anxiety, depression, peer relationships, parent/family relationships, sexuality and gender, managing stress, concerns about the future, grief, loss, and trauma. Let your child/youth know that all counselling support is private and confidential, and their counsellor will not share what they have discussed with anyone (please refer to our Privacy Policy for more details and the limits of confidentiality).
    • Just like how we go see a medical doctor when we are feeling physically unwell, let your child/youth know that it is perfectly normal, and common, to seek support from others when we are not feeling our best. A counsellor is someone with professional training who can help them feel, and understand themselves, better.
  3. “We all fear what we don’t know.” Tell them how counselling works.
    • When your child/youth signs up, they will be assigned to a specific counsellor based on their needs, and for better continuity-of-care, they will be able to connect with the same counsellor, unless their needs change. Your child/youth may also request a change of counsellor at any point.
    • To ensure accessibility and convenience, our e-counselling services here at WES for Youth Online can be provided through email, scheduled live-chat, telephone, or video-conferencing (the format and date/time of the counselling sessions will be discussed and arranged between the youth and the counsellor based on mutual agreement).
    • Lastly, there is no commitment – while youth need to participate in the development of their own treatment goals, they can also choose to stop counselling any time they want.

Can I help initiate the service, or ‘sign-up’ for my child as their parent?

Our counselling support is a self-referral service, so that means your child does not need to ask for parents’ permission, talk to school guidance, or get a Doctor’s note. We strongly encourage your child to initiate this registration process on their own, as a way of promoting their autonomy and a sense of ownership in their own wellbeing.

Please also kindly note that during all counselling sessions, it would be solely between your child and their counsellor; we do not encourage others (including parents) present as to ensure that the privacy and confidentiality of your child is protected and respected. At this point, we do not offer any family counselling (e.g. with parent(s) and child attending counselling sessions together).

Additional Resources for Parents/Caregivers