Teen TherapyIf you do not change direction, you may end up where you are headed - Lao Tzu
What is teen therapy?
Adolescence is a challenging time for both the teens going through it and their parents. This can be exacerbated by other difficulties, such as divorce, that may be occurring in their lives at the same time.
Teens are on a journey of self-discovery. They have to adjust to new experiences and navigate many challenges as they face biological, social, cognitive and psychological changes. This journey can be both an exciting adventure and a stressful time of transition and change. The teenage brain is a developing organ that won’t reach maturity until the age of twenty-five or so, and the excitement and anxiety which accompany teens’ emerging independence and sexuality can be unsettling for both girls and boys.
Teens need to move from dependency on their parents to independence as adults. They are turning away from parents and turning more to peers for a sense of connection and identity. However, whilst teenagers need to develop their autonomy, they also need sensitive and attuned guidance and involvement from their parents or caregivers. It is during adolescence, when the parent/child relationship also experiences a major evolution. With the need for increased freedom, comes increased expectations from the adult world and greater responsibility for their choices and actions. Learning through success and failure is part of the teen’s growing to maturity.
Some teenagers move through the adolescent phase more smoothly than others and have supportive families, whilst other may feel that they are facing these challenges alone. Teen therapy is directed at helping teenagers who are not coping with the many challenges and changes in their lives.
How does teen therapy work?
An initial consultation is arranged with the parent/s or caregiver/s in order to gather information on the teenager’s history and to gain an understanding of the difficulties the teen and the family may be facing. The teen will then begin meeting with me for individual sessions. These teen therapy sessions are normally arranged weekly. It is crucial that the teenager learns to trust me and feels emotionally safe. Information shared by the teenager is kept confidential so that the teenager is able to share openly with me. Any teen counselling feedback sessions with parents are discussed with the teenager first and information is shared only with the teenager’s consent. The best interests of the teenager are foremost in my mind. Information may need to be disclosed without consent should the teenager or someone else be in danger.
How do I know my teen needs teen counselling?
It can be difficult for parents to distinguish between normal teenage stress and the need for professional help. It’s best to err on the side of caution if you’re in doubt. Waiting to see if problems go away is not a good idea because these problems are likely to get worse without professional help.
Signs that your teen may need help include:
- Difficulty with relationships (parents, siblings, friends)
- Unable to manage conflict
- Difficulty coping with stress
- Low self-esteem/lack of confidence
- Self-doubt/concerns about self-image
- Bullying (victim or perpetrator)
- Concern from teachers and school counsellors
- Unusual change or decrease in academic performance
- Frequent arguments at home
- Substance abuse (alcohol, marijuana, etc.)
- Recent change in the family (divorce, separation, etc.)
- Loss/death in the family
- Traumatic experiences – physical, sexual or emotional abuse
- Frequent angry outbursts
- Self-injurious and risky behaviour
- Opposition to authority, violation of the rights of others
- Sexual acting out
- Withdrawn and isolative behaviour
- Prolonged negative mood
- Change in friends or activities
- Excessive worry or anxiety
- Talking about death or thinking about it often
- Suicidal ideation
- Eating or sleeping problems
- Significant changes in mood or behaviour
- Frequent nightmares
- Family dynamics that could be affecting the teen emotionally