Teen Counseling That Works for Your Teen and Your Family
Are you feeling confused about how to help your teen with the problems that he/she is facing?
Is your teen’s behavior worrying you?
- Is it sometimes hard to get your teen to even talk to you?
You are not alone in these problems. Many families with teenagers struggle in one way or another. As parents we have so many questions about what we should do or if what we are already doing is helpful. We may even have guilt over how we have handled situations with our children in the past. It is easy to become frustrated or angry when we see our children acting in ways that we don’t understand/agree or when our attempts to help are pushed away. Even as you are looking for teen counseling, you may also benefit from working through your own thoughts and feelings, so that they do not interfere with your ability to parent. But on to your teen…
Adolescent years are so difficult. It is normal for your child to have trouble navigating personal changes, peer pressure, not to mention societal influences. And as a parent, it is difficult to watch our child suffering or getting lost in the process. As a result, many teens fall into anxiety or depression with statistics reporting that 1 to 2 of every 10 adolescents are depressed and as many as 1 in every 4 adolescents are affected by anxiety. This does not have to be where the story ends.
In the same way that we consult with experts when something goes wrong with our cars or computers, it is wise to find your teen counseling when he/she is struggling with life. Seeking help from a therapist does not mean that you have failed. Quite the contrary, it means that you are willing to do whatever is necessary to help your teen have the best chance for success in this challenging world we live in.
How will teen counseling look?
Every teen is different, so while sessions are different depending on their personality and what they are presenting, there are commonalities in therapy. The best predictor of success in therapy is the relationship that your teen has with his/her therapist. Building relationship is the first phase of therapy. Therapists provide teens with an environment that offers validation, encourages trust, and provides safety. Teen counseling requires a balance between maintaining teen confidentiality and establishing communication and healthy relationship with parents. (We will go into greater detail about this later.)
As your teen feels heard and understood, there is an opportunity to move into the next phase of therapy, which is problem solving. Without new tools, we all have a tendency to do what we have always done. The advantage of having your teen in therapy, is that he/she can learn new coping skills and interaction patterns that lead to healthy relationships and increased self-esteem.
Therapy also brings about an opportunity to understanding ourselves at a much deeper level. The ability to understand who we are and why we do the things we do gives any of us an advantage in so many areas of our life. Very few teens or adults for that matter, take the time to examine our thoughts, feelings or actions. In therapy, your teen will have the ability to think about these things and make conclusions about the effectiveness of their coping skills and ways of thinking. Just imagine how different your teen years could have been if you had this type of opportunity.
Communication in Teen Counseling
As a potential consumer of our services, it is essential to know that our team is committed to upholding the highest of ethical standards. Our adolescent counselors are aware of the ways that teens can misrepresent themselves and their families during therapy. This comes from years of experience in teen counseling. We are committed to being objective and caring for your teen in a way that has firm and ethical boundaries. We are aware that as your teen shares his/her perspective that it is simply that, and that the truth is sometimes different.
A concern of any parent with regard to teen counseling is communication. Your teen’s counseling is an investment and you want to know that he/she is making good use of their time. In therapy, teens 15 years or older sign a release of information outlining how and what information will be shared with parents (clients under 14 do not have the ability to limit confidentiality with parents.) These guidelines are established the first session, but can be revisited at any time during therapy. As teen counselors we are required to maintain confidentiality, but understand the importance of healing relationships in the family. We encourage communication and improving relationships with family.
Often parents and teens dread the idea of family therapy. Both parents and teens are afraid that they will be blamed for problems or struggles that are happening. This is not what you will experience. The truth is that family members do affect each other. A family is like a mobile and if you touch one part of the mobile, the entire mechanism moves. It is the same with a family, and we do not want to ignore the fact that everyone affects each other.
Our desire as therapists is to discover your family’s strengths and build on those. All families have the potential to work through conflict well, but we often need help to learn those skills. Hardly anyone receives this type of education while growing up. So it is our hope that family members learn to listen, communicate and resolve conflict in a way that makes everyone in the family feel heard and valuable. Resulting in a home environment that functions well together.
Common Questions about Teen Counseling
Isn’t counseling just like talking to a friend?
While listening and understanding may occur in conversations with friends, there are many components of teen counseling that are different. Skilled counselors ask thought provoking questions, provide observations about patterns of behavior and have age-appropriate information to share with their clients that make problems more manageable. Friends frequently offer advice or say what works for them, while therapists look at situations objectively, offering a non-judgmental stance and exploring options that are effective in the short and long-term.
What should I do if my teen refuses to come to counseling, even if he/she needs it?
There are many who are resistant to counseling. Thankfully there are several approaches that are useful to get teens to come to therapy. The chosen approach depends on how and why your teen is refusing to come. Often scheduling a consultation meeting with parents to discuss their teen’s specifics objections has been very effective. Our skilled teen counselors have been successful in forming relationship even with resistant teens.
What do I tell my teen about counseling?
Be honest. Share the concerns that you have about your teen with him/her. Share that you believe talking to someone will be beneficial. Make sure your child knows that counseling is not a punishment. If possible, talk ahead of time with the potential therapist and ask what his/her first session will look like. Initial meetings involve getting to know a new client, discovering strengths and goal setting. Teens also have the opportunity to ask questions and find out anything they want to know about the counseling process.
How long will my teen be in counseling?
While we cannot say that your teen’s counseling will be concluded in a certain number of sessions, it is important to understand that we have a solution-focused, strengths based approach to treatment. This means that it is our desire to equip teens with the tools that they need to handle problems on their own. Successful family and teen counseling involves empowering your teen and family to relate effectively and therefore "graduate" from counseling.
Setting up an Appointment or Consultation
To set up an appointment, please call (970) 541-9066 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer a free phone consultation to answer your questions and find out if the therapist you speak with is a good fit for you.
(1) Information obtained from the National Institute for Mental Health