Parents Going To Therapy Helps 'Problem' Teens More Than Them Going To Therapy Themselves, According To Research

"If you follow a troubled child home, a troubled parent will answer the door."

Screenshots from @amymanlapas TikTok @amymanlapas / TikTok

If you’re a parent of a child with behavioral issues, chances are you’d be willing to try nearly anything to support them through whatever it is they’re going through.

One woman brought up a study, suggesting that the most effective way to help your child might be to do some inner work yourself.

A high school teacher claimed that when parents of young offenders get therapy, it makes more of a difference in the teen’s behavior than the kids going to therapy.

Amy-Elizabeth Manlapas (@amymanlapas) is a high school history teacher who posts about “world history, mental health, books, and fandom,” according to her website.


In her most popular TikTok, she stitched a video asking, “What’s an unpopular opinion you have about parenting that might make a lot of parents mad?” and responded by bringing up a 2016 study from the UK.

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In her video, Manlapas explained that the study focused on teens in the justice system and the impact of therapy on whether youth offenders would keep getting into trouble.


According to Manlapas, the study found that the rate of re-offending was the same for teens who received therapy as opposed to those who didn’t. However, when the parents of teen offenders received therapy, the child's outcomes were affected.

“Kids stopped going to jail, they stopped getting into trouble, they stopped lashing out, and this matches with what I’ve seen as a high school teacher,” Manlapas said. “Most kids, when they are doing really bad stuff, it is because of something at home with the adults in their life. So if something’s going on with your kid… I would get into some therapy and see what’s up.”

Manlapas' post received comments from people agreeing with her point and defending 'troubled' kids.

“It’s one reason I hate when some teachers call a student a 'bad' kid,” the top comment on the video read. “Like no, they are most likely lashing out due to things at home.”

Therapists, teachers, social workers, and parents validated Manlapas' point, as well as people who had struggled with behavioral and emotional issues themselves as children.


“I remember when I went to seek therapy as a teenager I felt so annoyed and thinking my parents were the ones who needed it,” one woman shared. Another said, “As a teen I brought my dad to therapy to confess some things and five minutes in cried and ran out of the session because he was yelling so much.”

Manlapas responded, “I am so sorry that you had to be the adult. I hope that you’re being kind to yourself and reparenting whenever you can.”

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There weren’t many visible comments attempting to argue against Manlapas’ point. Instead, most people emphasized the importance of mental health care for parents as well as their children.


Manlapas mentioned that not everyone approved of her video, though — “You should see my filtered comments,” she said in a reply, “I’m fighting for my life with some folks. They seem to just want to hit and abuse kids.”

Others said that her conclusion seemed obvious, but she responded, “Lots and lots of people still don’t believe it... To a lot of Americans, facts they disagree with are opinions.”

When asked what we could do to help kids whose parents didn't receive therapy — kids who are now young adults caught up in the criminal justice system — Manlapas answered, “Abolish the prison system and replace it with community-based restorative justice.”

Though teens can benefit from therapy, the study proves that parents of teenagers have inner work to do as well.

Most people often talk about how they receive therapy for their own personal issues, but sometimes, receiving therapy to help a parent navigate a "troubled" teen can do wonders. Therapy for teens allows them to learn tools to make proper changes, and truly understand what is causing their behaviors and feelings.


Therapy for parents, however, is essential in helping them recognize the significance of mental health care, particularly for their own children, and to do their best to heal themselves so they don’t pass our traumas down to their children.

“My son’s attitude dramatically changed once I resolved my own traumas and implemented changes in my behavior,” shared one comment, to which Manlapas enthusiastically responded, “Yes! You are doing so well! I’m so glad that you were able to help yourself and your family. You’re a great parent.”

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Jessica Bracken is a writer living in Davis, California. She covers entertainment and news for YourTango.