How to Tell Parents That You Think Their Child Needs Mental Health Counseling
Communication skill is a basic requirement for a Guidance Counselor because the nature of the job is to skillfully communicate with students in order to help them achieve their full potential in their education.
Types of communication skills
There are generally 3 types of communication skills. These are expressive, listening and managing overall process of communication. When we hear communication, our initial thought is 'words'. But words are not enough to convey our point or to understand others. An effective communicator uses the right facial expression, body language and words.
Expressive communication skill involves using the right tone and softness in getting across your message to the other person. It also entails facial expression and body language. Expressive skill also helps you to gauge the understanding of the other person and where the conversation will be heading.
Listening skills are needed for attaining information from others. An effective listening skill means better understanding. Giving the other person your entire attention will create trust as well as listening with both eyes and ears.
Management of overall process aids in recognizing the necessary information in able to achieve the best possible outcome. Overall process is the judgment on what is most useful to be tackled first in your communication.
Utilizing communication skills in Counseling
These skills are all utilized in school counseling. A guidance counselor is equipped with excellent communication skills so that they can effectively connect with the students. This skill is also put to the test when speaking with parents regarding their children. One of the most difficult is how to tell parents that you think their child needs mental health counseling.
Guidance counselors make frequent assessments of its students. They review the students' performance in school as well as their social development. Regardless of the level of education, whether they are dealing with young children, teenagers or young adults, they are sure to encounter individuals who are in need of mental counseling or more in-depth evaluation of their mental state.
Who needs mental counseling?
Those in need of mental counseling are not always born with disorders. Some acquire emotional drawbacks that lead to depression, anxiety or behavioral problems. In these cases, a mental health counselor is more suitable rather than a guidance counselor. Psychologists or mental health counselors are medical doctors who can give psychological tests and help an individual and their families to deal with the problem through counseling.
How to tell parents that you think their child needs mental health counseling
This is where a counselor's communication skill is put to the test. How exactly will you go about telling parents that their child is showing signs of abnormal behavior that will most likely be in need of mental counseling?
The first thing to do is to get their complete attention. Express your concerns by giving specific occurrences that lead you to this conclusion. If possible, provide verification or proof such as records and written affidavit from other school staff or students. This will help them trust that the information you are giving are valid and not just based on your personal opinion. Evaluation tests are also a good way in explaining to the parents your concerns about the student's behavior.
The parents are likely to accept your assessment more openly and whole heartedly if you specifically convey your worries. It will evade the feeling of blame or criticism. Also remember to use soothing voice and gestures to complete the expressive skill.
After getting your point across, you should check for the parents' understanding. No matter how well the execution is, there may be defensiveness from the parents. This is your cue to use your listening skill and eventually manage the overall process.
Hopefully this article will be helpful in your difficulty and questions on how to tell parents that you think their child needs mental health counseling as well as other concerns that are sensitive in nature.
Mental Health Counseling Resources
- Counseling and Coaching
- Gradschools.com: Counseling and Mental Health Therapy
- Psych Central
- Florida Mental Health Institute
- Internet Mental Health
- Twilight Bridge