What if my child does not want therapy?
Therapy to be effective has to be a voluntary activity, something a person engages in because he wants to. Of course, nobody really 'wants' therapy. Maybe, on one level we might want change, but on another level change can be difficult, and the known, even if painful, can be comforting in so far as it is the known.
Sometimes people come to therapy because their spouse thinks they need it, and in the case of children it is often the parents who think the kid needs help. The spouse, or the parents might be right in thinking there is something troubling their loved ones. However, when the child or spouse don't want to come in for themselves but rather to please someone else, or because they are forced to, therapy becomes impossible.
If I tell this to parents that consult me for a child who seems to be resisting coming to therapy, they sometimes hang up, and say their child does not have a choice. This is an unfortunate response, as I like to tell them a second part.
Whenever a child, teenager, or an adult is not sure whether they want to engage in therapy for themselves, I invite them, if they feel comfortable with me after the first session, to commit to 6 sessions, and to make the decision whether they want to continue after those 6 sessions. It is not because a person says that he does not want therapy, that he does not want therapy! It could just mean: I do not want to comply with what you want for me. In those 6 sessions a space can be created where the person can come to the decision that therapy is something that could benefit him, or is something that she can want for herself, in her own name.
I have also had a parent stop bringing a young child, because the child said she did not want to come to therapy. However, this child was engaged in the process and making progress. However, going to therapy is difficult and can produce anxiety. It is very typical not to want to go to a session, but that does not mean that the child does not want therapy.
It is important not to take these expressions at face value. The time and the space need to be taken to explore them. Therapy cannot be forced upon someone, but it is possible to offer people space where they can come to their own decision whether they want it or not.