How Do I Know if My Teen Needs Therapy?
Reasons Your Teen Might Need Therapy
There are various reasons you might be exploring the idea of therapy for your teen and your family. It can difficult to decide to bring your teen to therapy. Weighing the decision can be more of an art than a science. Sometimes the decision to come to therapy can be clear and obvious. For other teens and their circumstances, it can be harder to discern what’s going on and whether or not therapy is the right next step. Each teen is unique so each decision for therapy is unique.
We want to start by saying that bringing your child to therapy is in no way an indication that you have failed as a parent. No one has trained you to be a parent and teens are complex, so it is hard to navigate the decision to come for therapy. Parenting is hard. We want to make this a safe space where we can come alongside you and your teen and work together.
It is also likely that in your time as a parent so far, you have had mixed experiences of professionals that have come alongside your child. Sometimes these experiences are upsetting or challenging, and you may be wary of working with a therapist for this reason. We want your experience of us to be kind, understanding and empowering.
This is the hardest area to discern for your teen and their need for counselling because the signs/symptoms are the least concrete or straight forward. Some teens are able to articulate that they are experiencing mental health challenges and sometimes they just give other signals.
What some of the mental health concerns might be:
Signs to look for that may indicate a shift in mental health:
Changes in their mood, behaviour (aggressive, avoidant or depressive)
Presenting themselves differently/lost their spark
Something has changed with school
Getting into trouble/signal behaviours
Increase use of video games or other media, leading to withdrawal from social activity
Some teens have some big changes happen in their life that are tough to adjust to. These could include:
Loss of someone or something significant
Separation or divorce of parents or a new marriage in blended families
Adjusting to new school
Health crisis in the family
When these transitions happen, it can be helpful to bring your teen in for a single session, with no long-term commitment. They may not need the support immediately, but now they know concretely it is an option in case they are feeling the impacts of a life event later.
In some of these cases, parents are also being impacted by these situations. The stress on you as a parent can make parenting even more difficult. Bringing a therapist into the mix for your teen can be a way to support them when your own reservoir and capacity may be low.
Learn more about counselling for teens struggling with Eating Disorders.
Teens of struggle with self-confidence and self-worth. This could be a result of a difficult experience, or just a regular part of growing up. Teens may be asking themselves:
Who am I and how do I make sense in this world?
Do I have value and worth?
What is my gender/sexual identity?
Some of these questions have implications on teens’ relationships with their peers and their family. Having a safe space to explore these questions can be incredibly beneficial.
Learn more about Safer Spaces Counselling for Teens
Trauma is a term used to describe the challenging emotional consequences that living through a distressing event can have for an individual. Traumatic events can be difficult to define because the same event may be more traumatic for some people than for others.
Some of the common experiences we see teens going through:
Bullying (bullying takes many forms, this could be emotional, verbal, physical or psychological)
Bad sexual experiences
In some cases, it’s less about the event itself and more about the lasting impacts that result from these experiences.
Learn more about trauma counselling for teens.
Commonly, family conflict presents as a lot of fighting or reactive interactions with your teen.
Families can get stuck in a pattern of conversation. When you have little time with your teen, these conversations can sometimes center around ensuring your teen is doing what they need to succeed. This can sometimes be perceived by teens in a different way than we intend, causing frustrations on both sides.
One common way we see this playing out is with school. A teen may be school-avoidant due to anxiety or a traumatic experience that happened there. As parents we struggle to get our teens back to school because we know it is important to their long-term success. During this struggle, we may unintentionally overlook or diminish the challenge the teen is having. Getting at this root cause is important and when families are stuck in this rut. Therapy can be a helpful tool for family members to see and understand the others’ point of view.
When we can make these shifts and decode each other’s intentions, we can better attune to the needs of our teens.
It takes a village to raise a child
It’s good to have a therapist in the mix for when it’s needed
Sometimes teens just ask for therapy
Signs Your Teen Needs Counselling
Simply put, counselling works: it could help your teen feel better and lead to a positive shift within your family.
We welcome and encourage questions (you may have lots). Our FAQ page may be able to address some of these.
If you’re interested in learning more, speaking to one of our Client Care Coordinators should help clear up questions you may have about finding a therapist that fits your teen’s needs and personality, how counselling generally works, or any other topic. All calls are commitment-free. We can address any further questions or concerns and/or connect you to a therapist that can meet your needs.
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