Therapy for Teens
Are You Worried About Your Teen But Don’t Know How To Help Them?
Does your teen seem troubled by symptoms of anxiety and depression? Perhaps they’re missing school, getting bad grades, or have stopped socializing with their friends. Although you can tell something is upsetting them, they might not want to share it with you.
Maybe school has become more than they can handle. Ever since the pandemic, they may be having a hard time coping with the pressure to perform academically. Without the opportunity to blow off steam with their friends, your teen may have become angry or defiant as their frustration with online learning grows.
If they became socially isolated during shutdown periods, perhaps they struggle to readjust to “normal” when restrictions loosen up. They may have decided they no longer want to attend school in-person, or experience headaches or stomach aches that prevent them from wanting to go back.
Your teen’s distress might manifest in unhealthy behaviors, such as cutting, disordered eating, or poor sleeping habits. They may have lost interest in things they once enjoyed or expressed to you or others that they feel hopeless and bogged down by the weight of the world. If it seems like your teen has given up, you are probably worried about their physical and emotional safety.
Social Media Might Be Contributing To Their Struggles
When teens spend a lot of time on social media, they often compare themselves to others which can negatively impact their self-esteem. They might even experience cyberbullying, which further contributes to their sense of isolation or reluctance to return to school.
As a parent, you might be panicked by your child’s behavior and uncertain how to help them through this difficult time. The good news is therapy for teens can help kids who struggle during the adolescent years. Using evidence-based treatments, we can help them recognize what’s contributing to their stress and provide them with healthier strategies for coping with life’s challenges.
Depression And Anxiety In Teens Is On The Rise
The sad fact is that many more teens today experience challenges with their mental health. National data published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that “15.1 percent of adolescents have had a major depressive episode and 36.7 percent have experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.”[¹] Furthermore, receiving a diagnosis of depression or anxiety jumped from 5.4 percent in 2003 to 13.01 percent in 2020.[²] [³]
When our children feel depressed or anxious, our natural response as parents is usually to blame ourselves. Although we may believe we are bad parents or have contributed to our child’s mental health issues in some way, the reality is there is so much more at play that causes anxiety and depression in teens. The pandemic, negative influence of social media, and other major life transitions, such as moving or divorce, can all be factors.
The Pressure Our Teens Are Under Can Cause Them Harm
Although every parent wants their child to be successful and achieve their goals, the pressure this puts on our kids can sometimes backfire. As parents, we may encourage them to pursue their talents and strive to be the best at what they do, whether it’s in academics, sports, or music. However, when there is pressure to be “special” in some way and our child doesn’t feel that they are, they can feel burdened by the weight of this expectation.
Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental health often prevents us from seeking the help our teen needs. But it’s okay to admit that your teen could benefit from counseling right now. Therapy for teens can help your child accept themselves as a unique person who doesn’t need special talents or skills to be valuable.
Therapy For Teens Provides Compassion And Understanding
By its nature, adolescence is a challenging transitional time. However, the normal highs and lows most teens encounter in this developmental phase can be exacerbated when they’re under stress. The mental and emotional toll of online learning coupled with the social isolation caused by the pandemic may have left them feeling sad, anxious, and alone. If your teen is in pain, they can benefit from professional counseling.
Therapy allows your child a safe place to explore their feelings and emotions and express themselves freely without the judgment or pressure of parental or societal expectations. If your teen is grappling with sexual identity or their place in the world, our therapists can help them normalize their experience by offering validation and compassion.
What To Expect In Sessions
Therapy sessions will be held individually with your teen—if you desire family therapy, it can be arranged with a separate therapist within our practice. Therapy with your teen will remain confidential unless the therapist determines they are at risk of self-harm or unsafe behavior. Otherwise, disclosing what is discussed in sessions will require your child’s consent.
We will initially conduct a thorough evaluation of your child and can offer psychological testing if you are concerned they may have ADHD or a learning disability. Writing a treatment plan collaboratively with your teen will serve to guide every session as well as track the progress made in therapy. Whether the issue they want to address is improving bad grades or overcoming depression, we aim to provide them with tangible results. For example, we initially identify ten specific symptoms but whittle it down to two by end of 20 sessions.
The Modalities We Use
As licensed therapists and psychologists, we are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat your teen’s mental health issues using evidence-based treatments, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)[¹] [²] [³] By helping your child accept themselves, ACT can improve self-esteem and promote emotional regulation. If they’re engaging in self-harming behavior, DBT will teach your teen coping skills to tolerate everyday stressors in healthier ways.
CBT will address the negative thoughts and feelings that contribute to your child’s sense of hopelessness, reframing their thinking into a more positive and future-oriented direction. In addition, we offer art therapy for kids who may be opposed to talk therapy—we can also teach mindfulness and grounding skills to help teens manage stress and choose activities that boost enjoyment and engagement.
We can all agree that being a teen these days isn’t easy. And even though they may currently be struggling with the aftermath of the pandemic, academic pressures at school, or the stressors of social media, your child is resilient. By learning tangible coping skills, your child will be able to quell negative thoughts and improve their quality of life. Attending therapy customized for teens, they can gain self-acceptance and realize they like the person they are becoming.
But You May Wonder
Whether Therapy For Teens Is Right For You…
“I’m ashamed that my teen needing therapy means I’m a bad parent.”
Understandably, your initial reaction might be shame when your teen is troubled—after all, you’re the one responsible for their welfare. However, how much do you blame yourself when your child gets a cold and needs to go to the doctor? Why then should seeking therapy for your teen be viewed differently? Allowing the outdated stigma surrounding mental health to cause you or your family unnecessary shame is counterproductive. If your child is in pain, whether it’s physical or emotional, it’s better to get them help now rather than put it off and risk them getting worse.
“What do you suggest if my teenage son is resistant to therapy?”
If you are the parent of a teenage son, you may be concerned about his behavior. Oftentimes boys can be harder to read and may be more closed off and guarded than their female counterparts. Perhaps it’s their behavior that is concerning you, such as an addiction to porn or video games, or maybe they’ve told you they think they need help. If your teen is uncomfortable working with a female therapist and you think a male clinician might be a better fit, we have a great male therapist on our staff.
“How involved will I be in my teen’s therapy sessions?”
Therapy for teens is individual treatment that allows your child to speak confidentially with a trained therapist. It will be up to them to determine how much they want to share what is discussed in therapy sessions. The only time your therapist will disclose anything to you is if they are concerned for your child’s safety. If you have additional questions about counseling for teens, we have an intake coordinator who will answer any questions you might have, or we can schedule an informational meeting if needed.
Let Us Help Your Teen Find Confidence And Self-Acceptance
There’s no reason to hold off getting your child the help they need to enjoy a happier life. If you would like to find out more about therapy for teens, please contact us today.