Are You Concerned About Your Teen’s Behavior?
Do you think your teen may suffer from anxiety or depression?
Has their emotional distress led them to act out with destructive behavior?
Rather than confide in you about what’s wrong, do they keep you at arm’s length, and you don’t know how best to help them?
As the parent of a teen, it can be difficult trying to navigate what’s going on with their mental health. If communication between you is strained or has stopped altogether, you might not know what’s troubling them. However, if they are struggling at school, no longer participating in extracurricular activities they once enjoyed, or engaging in dangerous behaviors that put them at risk, you may be legitimately concerned for their safety and emotional well-being.
Your Child May Be Exhibiting Troubling Behaviors
While almost all teens prefer spending more time alone than when they were younger, perhaps your child has become withdrawn and isolated, not just from their family but also from friends. While it’s concerning when their sleeping and eating habits become dysregulated, it can be even more alarming if they are turning to substances or self-harm as a way of coping with their emotional distress. Or maybe they have grown angry and defiant, and the only communication between you ends in shouting matches and slamming doors.
Your teen’s behavior could signal that they do not feel seen or in control of what’s happening to them. As their parent, you might feel powerless to help. Fortunately, therapy can give your teen the support they need to become more aware of their feelings and insight into how to address big emotions more productively.
Mental Health Challenges Experienced In Adolescence Can Impact Adulthood
Current estimates published by the World Health Organization (WHO) confirm that mental health in teens is a growing problem. According to their data, "it is estimated that 3.6 percent of 10–14-year-olds and 4.6 percent of 15–19-year-olds experience an anxiety disorder." What’s more, "the consequences of failing to address adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults."
Physical, emotional, and social changes—including exposure to poverty, abuse, or violence—can make adolescents vulnerable to mental health problems. Adolescents with mental health conditions are particularly susceptible to:
Discrimination and human rights violations
The stigma associated with seeking help
Adolescence Is Already A Challenging Phase Of Life
Although the teen years are always turbulent based on the physiological changes taking place, the additional stress placed on teenagers these days has increased their struggles with mental health. The academic pressures placed on high school-aged kids have grown increasingly high over the past few decades. Adding the athletic and extracurricular demands we put on them to get into college, many buckle under the pressure to perform. In many instances, these demands contribute to teenage depression and anxiety and require therapy.
Because an adolescent’s brain is not yet fully developed, being put under stress can lead to poor judgment, impulsiveness, and a lack of awareness they may be putting themselves in danger. And though some emotional turmoil is normal for teens, extreme or prolonged issues can signal a problem. Therapy geared for teens can help your child identify and process the stress they are dealing with and learn how to make better choices for themselves.
Consent-Driven Counseling For Your Teen Ensures They Are A Willing Participant Throughout Therapy
For your teen to benefit from counseling, they must feel safe, heard, and validated. And because a natural part of adolescence is a desire to assert independence, they might clash with authority figures who attempt to control them. That’s why creating a therapeutic alliance with a therapist who will not present themselves as an authority over your teen is so important to the counseling process. Rather than forcing them to talk, they will instead invite them to explore if therapy is helpful.
The therapeutic relationship established by the counselor levels the playing field between adolescent and adult, offering a safe space for your teen to explore and share their struggles without judgment or punishment. Once the therapist develops trust with your teen, they can honestly explore their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
Our Approach To Working With Teens In Counseling
he first session is usually attended only by parents so the therapist can gather information about your teen, and discuss limits of confidentiality. Sessions thereafter will only be attended by your child. Outside of therapy sessions, the therapist will arrange periodic check-in appointments with parents to answer any questions they might have pertaining to what the therapist and teen are working on together in counseling.
We ask that you allow your teen the space to process what they need to throughout the therapy process without requesting specific details. In addition to reviewing and signing their treatment plan, anything that pertains to your teen's safety will absolutely be shared with parents.
Counseling sessions with teens can only be successful when they are completely on board with the process. That is why we will seek your teen’s consent before getting counseling underway. Rather than being sent to therapy unwillingly as a disciplinary consequence for disruptive behavior, we aim for your teen to become a vital part of the decision-making process. If, after a few sessions, your teen decides they don’t want to move forward with therapy, we won’t force them to continue. However, most teens want to proceed with counseling once they give it a chance.
Building Trust With Your Teen Can Help Them Make Breakthroughs
After safety and rapport are developed, the therapist can empower your teen to identify their thought process, emotions, and reactions and decide whether making changes would be beneficial to themselves and others. Within the safety of the therapeutic relationship, your teen will be given permission to process anything that is going on. This allows the overwhelm associated with big emotions to diminish, and with it, the need to act impulsively to rid themselves of it.
We will help your teen bring awareness to how they respond to stress and emotional discomfort. Perhaps, for example, they employ numbing behaviors—such as cutting or playing video games all night—to mitigate distress. Learning to understand why they do what they do and where these reactions come from gives them new insight. With awareness, they can choose to make other decisions in those moments. Additionally, we might utilize experiential therapy, such as creating art, somatic exercises, or other coping mechanisms to process and regulate emotions.
Therapy will help your teen explore coping strategies for tolerating overwhelming emotions and trust in their ability to self-soothe and regulate their behaviors. In counseling, we give teens the agency to be their own person.
But Maybe You’re Not Sure If Counseling Is Right For Your Teen…
As a parent, will I be informed about what is discussed in my teen’s counseling sessions?
While parents have a right to know what direction the treatment is going with their child, we do not provide you with specific details of what we talk about with your teen in therapy. The only time confidentiality is broken is if your teen’s counselor has a serious concern for their safety. However, we will schedule periodic check-ins with you outside of your teen’s counseling sessions to provide you with a general assurance that therapy is on track and answer any general questions you may have.
What if my teen doesn’t want to go to therapy?
For therapy to be successful, your teen must be a willing participant in the process. We have an open policy about not forcing anyone into therapy, including teens. We typically ask them to give it 3-4 sessions and see how they feel. If it’s not a good fit, we won’t continue treatment. We have found that giving teens buy-in and choices usually leads to beneficial outcomes.
Can I afford to get my teen the counseling they need?
At the Center for Secure Attachment, our mission is to provide access to mental health care to individuals who can’t afford the out-of-pocket expense of teen therapy. Unlike the majority of private pay group practices, we accept Medicaid as well as other select insurance, such as Cigna and Aetna. Additionally, you may be eligible for a sliding scale on rates to keep therapy for teens affordable. Please visit our fees page for more information
Forming Trust With A Therapist May Be What Your Teen Needs To Navigate Adolescence
With counseling, your teen will be empowered to make healthier choices. If you want to learn more about receiving therapy for your teen, you may visit our contact page or call 719-506-2070 to schedule a free 15-minute call. And for clients in Colorado Springs, we also offer group therapy for teens in addition to individual counseling.