If you are considering therapy for your son or daughter, you may have a lot of questions that you want answered. That is why, before even starting the process, I am here to help you learn more about therapy for adolescents and address some of the issues that may be on your mind regarding psychotherapy treatment for teens. It is my priority as a therapist to make sure both my clients and their parents feel comfortable about treatment, so I have assembled several commonly asked questions regarding therapy for teens and adolescents.
Adolescence can be a very complicated and confusing period of time. It is marked by significant change and transition as teens are confronted with shifting roles, increased academic demands, social pressures, and the emotional ups and downs that come with being a teenager. The struggles of adolescence can lead to feelings of sadness, anger, loneliness, anxiety, or shame. A safe space for exploring themselves and the difficulties they are dealing with is often exactly the type of support a teen needs. When your teen is going through a rough time, whether it is due to challenges at home, friend troubles, or problems in school, talking to a therapist can help. They may need help sorting out their feelings, finding solutions to their problems, or just feeling better and that’s exactly what therapy is there for!
There are many signals to look out for that may indicate that your teen would benefit from therapy. Signs of depression may come in the form of angry outbursts, withdrawal from friends and family, disinterest in activities that they normally enjoy, lack of motivation, constant irritability, and/or frequent crying outbursts or tearfulness. If you notice significant changes in your teen’s habits this can also be an indication that they need help. This might be a change in sleep or eating patterns or drug or alcohol use. Another telling area is school. If their grades or school performance drops suddenly this could also be a sign that your teen is struggling and needs additional support. It can be difficult figuring out what is just normal teen behavior and what is a more serious issue that will benefit from working with a therapist, so looking out for these signs can be helpful in ensuring that your teen gets the help they need when they need it the most.
Teens can sometimes be resistant to starting therapy. They may feel embarrassed about seeing a therapist and worry that their friends will find out and think they are “crazy” or there is something “wrong” with them. Therefore, it is best to approach your child from a place of love and express your concern in an open and caring way. Let your teen know that you are there to support them and provide them with the help and support that they need in order to be happy and healthy. They may immediately jump at the idea of going to therapy or they may be quite resistant. Sometimes this resistance stems from the fact that therapy is someone else’s idea. That is when it is very helpful to emphasize that although going to therapy might not be their idea, it is their decision to choose who they see. Giving them the freedom to decide which therapist they want to work with can help provide them with a greater sense of control and ownership over the therapy experience. If they continue to remain resistant you can ask your teen to attend at least three therapy sessions and after that point they can decide if they would like to continue or not. Often times, if there is a good fit between the teen and the therapist, teens become engaged in the process by that point and want to continue voluntarily.
Therapy can help adolescents deal with a wide variety of issues. Here are just a few examples of the type of difficulties that therapy can help address:
In my work as a therapist with adolescents, my aim is to create an environment in which they feel comfortable opening up about what is going on in their lives, without fear of judgment or ridicule. We work together to help them sort out their feelings, find solutions to their problems, and develop improved coping skills so that they can more effectively manage the emotional ups and downs of adolescence. Working successfully with adolescents also requires finding a balance between providing them a safe space that is truly theirs, while involving parents and other family members, as necessary, in the service of the teen’s growth and development.
Therapy typically does not have a set time length. Some problems resolve very quickly while others are more complex and take longer to work through. Usually, I work with teens for at minimum three months, meeting on a weekly basis. I often continue working with them for up to a year or more and then we may transition to once monthly or as needed basis.
I believe that when working with teens the client-therapist relationship is one of the most important factors for effective therapeutic work to occur. Your teen must feel safe, comfortable, and connected with the therapist they end up working with. Therefore, my first priority when an adolescent comes to see me is to help them decide whether I am a good fit for them and their particular needs. My next step is to help them begin exploring those issues that they are struggling with. Because this may be the first time they are talking about these things, I make sure to go at a pace that feels comfortable to them. Together we start looking at what is getting in the way of their overall sense of happiness and well-being. By helping them understand what they are feeling and providing them with the tools they need in order to navigate the challenges of adolescence, therapy can help teens not only feel better, but actually thrive!
When working with adolescents, it is very important that they feel like therapy is a private place for them to talk about whatever is on their mind. Without a sense of privacy and confidentiality between your teen and their therapist, they are likely to remain closed off or distrustful of the therapist. Therefore, when I work with teens, what they share in therapy stays between the two of us. There are, however, a few very important exceptions. You will be the first to know if there is any reason to be concerned about your child’s health, well-being, or safety. To avoid any confusion, I always make sure to discuss my policies around confidentiality with both you and your teen in our first session together. This way you both know what to expect moving forward and I can answer any specific questions that you may have.
One of the best things that you can do as a parent when your teen is seeing a therapist is to ask both your teen and the therapist what type of involvement would best facilitate his/her experience in therapy. You may be invited into a session to directly address specific issues that your teen is struggling with and figure out how you can most effectively support them. A joint session with relevant family members and your teen may also be appropriate if there are specific issues that would best be addressed with their direct involvement.
As a psychotherapist, I specialize in talk therapy and do no prescribe medication. However, if it becomes clear that your teen could benefit from medication, I will refer you to a psychiatrist who can help address your teen’s particular medication needs.
I typically meet with my adolescent clients on a weekly basis. I have found that meeting consistently every week contributes to a stronger therapeutic relationship and enables them to more effectively address the issues they are struggling with. There are times, however, when it is appropriate to meet more or less frequently based on a teen’s current needs or schedule.
A therapy session costs $200 and is payable by credit card, cash or personal check.
I accept PPO health insurance plans as an “out-of-network” provider.
Recognizing that your teen needs help or additional support can sometimes be difficult, but highly important to their overall health and well-being. If you would like to speak further on how I may be able to help your son or daughter, please feel free to contact me. The best way to do this is to email me, send me a message through my website, or call me directly at 310-892-2572. I am always happy to talk with parents to help them understand how their child may benefit from therapy sessions, how to help talk to their teen, and determine whether I might be a good fit for their teenage son or daughter.