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Therapy For Teens Therapy

Is Your Teenage Child Having Difficulty Finding Their Place In The World?

Do you feel like you can no longer relate to your adolescent-age child the way you used to? Has your child pushed you away at a time when they seem troubled or confused and you are unsure how best to help them? Are you concerned they may be anxious or depressed and, without intervention, they’ll experience further emotional pain?

Adolescence can be a time of turmoil that impacts your teen emotionally, physically, and socially. As they’re preparing for the next phase of life, perhaps they’re feeling confused and overwhelmed by their unknown future. Simultaneously, they’re undergoing physiological changes that can result in heightened emotions in response to stress, whether encountered at school, home or within their friend group.

Your Child May Be Exhibiting Troubling Behaviors

At their age, it’s natural for your teen to be focused on their changing body and feel pressure to be attractive. Unfortunately, the narrow societal definitions of attractiveness can bring about disorders such as binge eating, anorexia, bulimia, body shame, and body dysmorphia. Or perhaps their exploration of sexuality has been reckless and causes you concern. Or maybe they’ve begun to experiment with drugs and you’re worried about how detrimental this is for your teen both psychologically and physically. If they’ve started with marijuana, they could move onto harder drugs which could eventually develop into a full cycle of addiction. As they assert independence, it may seem like your teen has shut you out, preferring the company of peers who may not always be the best influence. If they rely on social media for a sense of community, it might have the reverse effect, leading to disconnection and a lack of motivation. Maybe you’re worried because they’ve turned inward and haven’t connected to kids their own age. As the relationship between you and your child changes, this period of transition can be painful. However, therapy for teens can help them develop a sense of who they are, which, in turn, will help them gain more control over the choices they make.

Adolescence Culminates In A Developmental Brain Storm

In the adolescent phase, teens strive to define themselves as individuals who are unique and separate from their caretakers. However, the process of questioning “who am I?” can be extremely painful and challenging at times, especially considering the many stressors teens face in today’s world. From a neuroscientific perspective, teens experience a “brain storm.” The prefrontal cortex—responsible for executive functioning, emotional regulation, and making rational decisions—develops slowly and doesn’t reach maturity until their late 20s. In the meantime, they must rely on their amygdala for decision-making. Because this is the part of the brain responsible for survival, it means teens are more vulnerable to strong emotions, risk-taking, and impulsivity. It is therefore no wonder that the teen years are a time when our kids may exhibit risky behavior, rebelliousness, and feel unsettled in the world.

The State Of The World Exacerbates Our Teens’ Worries And Fears

The conditions today’s teen is exposed to may increase their sense of loneliness, isolation, and emotional distress. The Covid-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for adolescents who, at this developmental stage, “rely heavily on their peer connections for emotional support and social development“. Unfortunately, social media is a poor substitute for human connection. Moreover, the pandemic might have impaired their cognitive development and impacted their educational progress. Losing ground at school can create a lot of stress for teenagers, leading to higher rates of anxiety and depression. And with so much uncertainty in the world, our teens may be having a harder time navigating life than we did when we were their age. As a parent, it’s understandable to feel out of your depth and wonder whether your teen needs counseling you’re unable to provide. Therapy for teens offers supportive guidance for your child that will aid them in navigating this tumultuous phase of development.

Therapy For Teens Is A Safe Haven For Self-Reflection And Emotional Growth

Despite its turbulence, adolescence can be a monumental moment in your child’s life where they find out more about themselves and can use that knowledge to fuel creativity and emotional growth. Therapy for teens provides a safe environment for your child to process their thoughts and feelings, find their unique voice, and self-reflect in a way that will positively impact how they relate to others.

Experiencing a relationship that feels safe, accepting, and welcomes vulnerability can be extremely healing. As your teen works alongside a counselor who strives to build a trusting and open relationship with them, they will explore how they see themselves in the world while examining the expectations they have for themselves.

By the end of therapy, our goal is for your teen to have a better understanding of who they are now and cultivate curiosity about who they want to become. By fostering self-love and acceptance, we will help them identify their needs, set healthy boundaries, and define their hopes for the future.

What To Expect In Sessions

Although most counseling sessions will take place with your teen individually, for therapy to be as beneficial as possible, we recommend that initial sessions include parents and, perhaps, other family members. Gaining a clear picture of family dynamics will enable the therapist to utilize a modality that will best suit your teen. For example, they may benefit from developing better emotional regulation and coping skills they can implement when they feel overwhelmed.

To find the right solutions, we first need to better understand the problem. Discovering what the problems and potential solutions are will be a collaborative process your teen will actively participate in. Although the therapist is the “adult in the room”, they won’t claim to have all the answers. This approach will create a nonjudgmental space that encourages your teen to feel more empowered to identify and solve their challenges in their own unique way, rather than become dependent on the therapist for all the answers.

The Modalities We Use

Utilizing Internal Family Systems (IFS), your child will learn the difference between a reaction (an action carried out impulsively without much thought) and a response (an action arrived at more thoughtfully with reasoning, control, and self-understanding).

By understanding reactions and responses in the context of different “parts” that exist separately within them, your child will foster respect and empathy for all their coping techniques and be encouraged to draw upon more controlled responses to life’s many stressors. This can be achieved through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills, breathing exercises, physiological regulation, playing a game, or envisioning a safe space.

Therapy for teens offers your child tangible skills they can incorporate into their self-care practices and continue to use as they gradually grow into the person they want to be. Learning how to navigate the tumult of adolescence will give them the confidence to become a resilient, well-adjusted adult.

Let Us Help Your Teen Find Their Footing

With our support and guidance, we can take the guesswork out of what your teen needs to thrive. To schedule a free consultation and learn more about therapy for teens, please contact us.

But Perhaps You Wonder If Therapy Is Right For Your Teen…

Because adolescence is a time when physiological development converges with self-exploration and self-questioning, it’s common for teenage children to ponder their sexuality. Counseling for teens provides a safe space for your child to explore the messages they’ve received through their lives regarding sexuality and normalize their curiosity within a therapeutic environment. Their therapist can also provide your teen with some psychoeducation on sexuality and talk to them about establishing safety in sexual encounters.

Developmentally speaking, it’s normal—healthy, in fact—for adolescents to push away from authority figures to assert independence. However, because we lack adult mentors within our culture they can relate to, teens are often left to navigate challenges alone or rely on other confused peers for guidance. The relationship your teen develops with their therapist has the potential to be that mentor. In therapy, we will strive to gain your teen’s trust by making sure they feel understood without taking a side. They’ll be allowed to explore their inner world without shame, blame, or embarrassment, which can be incredibly valuable for their emotional growth.

Understandably, you have a lot on your plate right now financially. If you’re saving for college. the idea of spending additional money on therapy for your teen may sound unaffordable. Perhaps you’re hoping your child’s going through a temporary phase they’ll soon outgrow. But if your teenage child suffers from anxiety or depression, it may be harder for them to pursue their dreams down the road without therapy. Although counseling takes hard work and commitment, it can make a significant difference in your teen’s life. And if it’s not working, that’s okay, you’re under no commitment to continue.