"Hello. I'd like to make an appointment for my 21 year-old..."
“Is there a reason why he/she can’t come to phone?” I ask.
If there is a legitimate reason, I’ll move forward with the conversation. If not, I’ll ask either to speak with the person in question or I’ll suggest that he or she call me directly.
Sometimes parents are put off by this. But the first step in receiving help is taking ownership of the problem. Initiating the process of therapy oneself –- through that first call –- sets something in motion. It is a declaration: “I want my life to different, and I am willing to do something to make that happen.”
The client we don’t like to see is the (adult) son or daughter or the spouse who has been coaxed, prodded, or pushed into therapy, and is simply agreeing to attend to appease mom, dad, or a significant other. This is a very different thing than making the choice to start therapy.
If you adult son or daughter is struggling, I do think it is wise to share your concerns with him or her in a compassionate fashion. If you think they could profit from professional help, I also think it is fine to provide them with a number to call, a web address to check out, or some other resource. But let them start the process. Let them choose.
In terms of therapy outcome, choosing makes all the difference in the world.