Teen Therapy

Is therapy for teens?

Can parents participate in the therapy?

Parents should absolutely be involved in the therapeutic process. Parents have the opportunity to learn and grow with the teen in this process of change. If the parent isn’t involved or aware of what the adolescent is trying to work through, how will change be implemented at home? Similarly, the parent can bring a vast amount of insight into the counseling relationship. Having them there gives an opportunity to both the teen and the parent to grow and change. 

Reasons Teens Seek Mental Health Treatment 

There are many reasons why a teen may be going to counseling. Some of the most prominent reasons why are the following: 

  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Behavioral problems 
  • Substance Abuse Issues
  • Stress
  • Socially related issues 
  • Trauma 
  • Grief


Many teenagers struggle with sadness, grief, and loss in their life. This can be significant when it leads to depression. Some signs and symptoms of depression in teenagers are: 

  • Tiredness or loss of energy 
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much 
  • Changes in appetite
  • Use of drugs or alcohol
  • Social isolation 
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of hopelessness 
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Loss of pleasure in normal activities
  • Frequent absences from school 

Anxiety Disorders

Many individuals experience anxiety about different life experiences like speaking in front of others, taking an exam, or preparing for a big move. However, anxiety can become unhealthy when it goes over the threshold of normal worrying. This can appear in different ways through generalized anxiety, OCD, phobias, panic attacks, and PTSD. 

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): GAD occurs when someone worries excessively about many things. Some physical symptoms that accompany this disorder are chest pain, headaches, tiredness, stomachaches, or vomiting. 
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Teens with OCD may struggle with intrusive thoughts which take the form in obsessions and compulsions.
  • Phobias: This is a more common phenomenon that most people know, yet this occurs when teenagers have intense fears of things that aren’t necessarily dangerous. An example of this would be fear of heights, dogs, flying, etc. 
  • Panic attacks: These occur randomly and are episodes of anxiety that have intense physical symptoms. This happens when an individual is triggered by some type of stimuli and the fear response related to the stimuli is severe. 
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): This type of anxiety disorder occurs after a severely traumatic event. 

Behavior Problems

There are many behavior problems that teenagers may exhibit due to high stress, home life, loss or grief, and/or many other reasons. Some symptoms of behavioral issues in adolescents include: 

  • Defiance and argumentative behaviors with parents or other family members
  • Disrespectful actions 
  • Fluctuations in emotions 
  • Aggressive or violent behavior 
  • Risky behaviors

Substance Abuse Issues

If your child has substance abuse issues, it’s important to find out what they’re using and why. This will help determine if treatment is needed. It’s also important to know if any family members have substance abuse problems.

School and Social Related Issues

Teens who struggle socially often feel isolated from peers and teachers. They may also experience depression, anxiety, or anger issues. Some teens have trouble making friends because they don’t know what to say or how to act around others. Others have social problems because they’ve been bullied.


The most common reason kids come into treatment is trauma. It can range from physical abuse to sexual assault to neglect. In addition to the obvious physical injuries, it can cause emotional and psychological damage. If you suspect your child has experienced trauma, talk to them about what happened and encourage them to tell you if they feel safe enough to share.


Therapy can be helpful for grieving adolescents who are struggling with depression, anxiety, anger, poor self-esteem, or relationship problems. It can also help them cope with death, divorce, abuse, illness, or any other traumatic event.

Low self-esteem

Teens who struggle with self-esteem often feel like they don’t measure up to others around them. They might feel like they’re not smart enough, pretty enough, athletic enough, funny enough, popular enough, etc. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-confidence.

Other Reasons to Seek Therapy

Teens who struggle with depression often feel isolated from friends and family, which makes it hard to talk about what they’re going through. They may also find it difficult to ask for help because they don’t want to seem weak. If you notice any of these signs in your teen, it might be worth talking to them about whether they’d like to see a therapist.

Child and Adolescent Issues

Teens who struggle with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, or self-harm often benefit from working with a therapist who specializes in child and adolescent issues. If your teen has had previous treatment for any of these problems, it will be important to find out if they were successful at addressing them, what worked well, and what didn’t.

How to Know When Your Teen Needs Professional Help

If your teen has experienced any of these issues, it’s important to talk to them about what they’ve been going through. They might not realize just how serious these problems are, so having someone who knows what to look out for will help them understand where they stand.

Is It Just Normal Teen Behavior?

If you think your child has a mental health issue, it’s important to talk to them about it. Some issues are temporary; others aren’t. But if they don’t feel comfortable talking to you, they might not be able to tell anyone else either.

What should teens expect as they enter into counseling? 

Teens should expect to be asked many questions about some behavioral issues that may be going on at home or at school. Many therapists are genuine, empathetic, and deeply care for their client’s health. Adolescents may be hesitant to engage with the therapist, because rightly so, they don’t know or trust them right off the bat. 

How often do teens go to counseling? 

Depending on the health of the adolescent, some teenagers may need to be seen once or even twice a week, while others may be seen bi-monthly or monthly.

What are specific types of therapy for teens? 

There are many types of counseling that are used specifically with teenagers. Some of the most common are: 

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) 
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy 
  • Interpersonal therapy 
  • Virtual therapy or Online therapy sessions
  • Individual therapy

How do you choose the best mental health professional for your teen? 

Some of the best factors to look for in an individual who is working with teens is the counselors: 

  •  Experience Working With Teens
  • Proper Credentials 
  • Therapeutic Approach
  • Personality and Rapport 

Generally, how long will my teen be in therapy? 

Truly, it depends on the presenting concern that the teen came to counseling for. If it is related to problems with stress or anxiousness, the therapy may be brief. Yet, if there are self-harm behaviors, suicidal ideation, substance abuse problems, or other related issues that need extensive therapy, it may range from a few months to a few years. 

What is the difference between a school counselor and a professional private counselor? 

One of the major differences is the workplace setting in that the counselor resides. School counselors typically partner with parents, teachers, and coaches to help the teenager achieve educational success through the school system. A professional private counselor who does not work in the school works with the adolescents in a similar fashion yet is not as interconnected within the unit of a school environment as a school counselor is. 

A note about minors using online counseling

If you’re concerned about your child’s safety or privacy, we recommend that they not use online counseling services. There are many risks associated with this type of service, including identity theft, cyberbullying, and inappropriate contact with strangers.

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