Do you hear me?
Is anyone even listening to me?
Some young people don’t like to go see a doctor or a therapist because they haven’t felt listened to in the past. Sometimes it is tough for adults to listen to young people. They might be making assumptions that they know what the young person is going to say; they might be judging them based on their tone or body language; or even they might honestly not understand the way young people talk or what they are talking about!
In turn, the young person might feel frustrated and have some of these thoughts:
How is this even going to work if no one is listening to me?
They really don’t care what I think, just what they think.
There’s no way for them to understand anyways.
The problem with these thoughts is that if you are working with a professional therapist or doctor, they should not be true. In medicine, doctors are evaluated based on professionalism – which is their code of conduct or the way they are taught and socialized to behave. Professionalism includes having respect for patients and being responsive to their needs. So now that you know this, if someone is really not listening to you, it is unprofessional. That means you have a right to and should say something!
Some examples of things you can say in a neutral way to start to introduce how you feel are:
I feel like I am not being listened to.
I would like to get better, but I feel like I am not being heard. Can I have time to share something?
I feel like things could be going better during my visits. Can I let you know some of the concerns I have?
Has this happened to you before? How have you addressed it?