If you are a teen, did you know that, in many states, you can legally get counseling without telling your parents? In Colorado, where I work, the law says that anyone 15 years old or older can seek mental health services on their own. So, the law recognizes that we don’t all live in a perfect, pretty world in which teens can always expect the support they need from their parents.
There’s a bit of a catch, though. It is also legal for your counselor to then inform your parents that you saw them, without necessarily getting permission from you. Legal, but not required. So, before you seek counseling that you don’t want to tell your parents about, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with the counselor about their policy for informing your parents. Many counselors will agree to keep counseling with teens confidential (with exceptions required by law for all clients - child abuse and danger to self and others).
The other catch, of course, is that counseling costs money. If you are a teen in need of counseling and you don't want to involve your parents, watch for an upcoming post with tips for finding counseling when you can't afford regular counseling fees.
Peg Shippert is a psychotherapist in private practice in Boulder, Colorado. She has a deep passion for working with survivors of sexual violence and other traumas.