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Ask The Experts

Worried About Our Daughter


My daughter 19 years old was cutting herself during her freshman year in college. Her friends alerted us (parents) about the situation. It has since stopped. She spoke with a counselor at college multiple times. Recently she went out with friends and came home drunk while on summer break. We (her parents) are still very concerned that there are still some issues that she is not addressing. She will not talk with us about these issues. Do we force her into some therapy? Is there a specific type of counselor we should be seeking out to help us with this situation?

Victor Schwartz, M.D., Medical Director, The Jed Foundation answers:

It is really hard to be a parent of a college student. The student wants his or her privacy and the parent is often faced with managing a lot of anxiety. You might start with explaining to her that while you really want to be respectful of her privacy you are worried and how hard it is for you to not know what is going on. You might also ask whether she would let you know if she were really having difficulty.

Has she been doing well otherwise-in school and in her life situation? Does she seem depressed, impulsive? If things in general do not seem so bad, this might indicate that there is no emergency. Generally speaking, it is very difficult to force someone into therapy and this often does not work out so well in any case.

While she may not be very open about her problems, it is still really important to keep the “lines of communication’ open. Keep in touch with her. Check in regularly while trying to give her space.

If she will go, just getting her to as good, caring therapist would be a good start. Maybe she’d be ok going back to the counselor she met with at school?