Is Your Teen Pulling Away From You?
Are you struggling to connect meaningfully with your teen? Do you worry about your teen/preteen’s safety and well-being? Maybe you’re afraid that your teen is being bullied, perhaps at school, online or in person? Do you wish you could know for sure what’s really going on inside your teen’s head and how you could help him or her to succeed and thrive? Perhaps you fear your child is suffering from anxiety, depression or an eating disorder and you’re worried about his or her emotional and physical health. Or maybe your teen is acting out, involved with drugs or alcohol or engaging in risky sexual behavior and you feel powerless to help. It might be that you worry that your high-achieving perfectionist is stressed out to the max. Do you wish you knew how to help your teen return to being a happy, well-adjusted individual with confidence, sharing conversation, fun and laughter?
Struggling to understand, connect with and know how to help your teenager can be a frustrating, confusing and even helpless experience. Perhaps you have noticed your teenager withdrawing socially or becoming moody, angry or silent at home. It may be that you feel scared or frustrated because your teen has stopped opening up to you. Or, perhaps most conversations end up with one or both of you becoming upset and storming out. You may suspect that your teen is struggling in some way, but don’t know what the underlying cause is. It may be that he or she is involved in every extracurricular activity, leaving no time to relax and be a kid. Alternatively, you might be concerned that your teen is not socializing, instead spending free time locked in his or her room, studying or online. You may even worry that your teen is contemplating suicide, or wonder if he or she will become be a happy, well-functioning adult. Do you fear that you’re losing touch, unable to help your child with the new and future challenges he or she faces?
The Formative Teenage Years Can Be Incredibly Difficult
Teenage years are notoriously challenging, and it’s normal for teens to pull away from parents. Almost all teenagers go through ups and downs as part of the adolescent journey of exploration and self-discovery. Few people make it through teenage years without encountering struggle of some kind, be it heartbreak, conflict with parents or teachers, difficulty making good grades or a transition into a newfound identity. Anxiety, depression and life stress are very common amongst teens, as is bullying, which can have a significant, negative impact on a teen’s emotional well-being. Teenagers often feel like nobody understands them or what they’re going through, and it can be difficult to renegotiate boundaries with parents, family members or even childhood friends. Add to this a loss, an unhealthy body image, a disappointment related to school or college prospects, unrequited love or heartbreak, and it becomes easy to understand why many teenagers feel like they are at breaking point.
Major challenges, such as parents divorcing/remarrying or questions about sexual identity, can amplify normal teenage stress and anxiety to where it interferes with routine functioning. In the space between childhood and adulthood, teenagers often feel as though life becomes more complicated every day. College looms on the horizon, placing intense pressure on young shoulders, and many high-achieving students believe that if they don’t make the top 10 percent in their grade, they won’t get into college and will ultimately end up unemployed or even homeless. This kind of catastrophic thinking is perpetuated by pressure to get into AP classes, and often innocent inquiry from parents and relatives may be interpreted as intense scrutiny of grades or ambitions. Many teens react to school pressure by simply giving up, acting out and/or assuming that they will fail to achieve high grades no matter how hard they try, so “what’s the point?”
Although many teens refuse their parents’ help with academic and other concerns, they still require support and mentorship, especially during particularly challenging times. Teens are much more likely to open up to an adult who is not a parent, which is why counseling for teens can be so effective. An experienced, skilled and compassionate teen therapist can help your child overcome challenges, learn new skills and cope with stress, anxiety or depression.
Teen Counseling Can Help Your Child Feel More Confident, Relaxed And Secure
In teenage counseling sessions, your teen can begin to trust and open up to a supportive adult who can share valuable knowledge and experience. When choosing a teen therapist, I encourage you and your teen to experiment with finding somebody who will listen to and take his or her concerns seriously and empathetically, allowing for a strong therapeutic connection.
As an experienced teen and child therapist, I understand the importance of connecting with adolescents and establishing mutual trust and respect. From the outset, I’ll explain the therapeutic confidentiality rules, stipulating that unless I believe your teen is in danger or at risk of endangering others, conversations we have during sessions will remain strictly between us. I’ll advocate for your teen and will view him or her with unconditional positive regard and acceptance.
In the comfortable, safe space of teen counseling sessions, I can help your teen learn valuable coping skills and identify and build upon his or her strengths to increase confidence and manage difficult emotions. Our sessions will be very creative, and I’ll utilize your teen’s interests, such as art, music or sports, to form the basis of my strength-focused approach. I can provide your teen with strategies that can help him or her get along better with teachers and peers, ask for help when needed and respond to conflict maturely and rationally. Together, we’ll create an action plan to help implement skills learned, recognize strengths and achieve goals, which can help your teen feel empowered and excited for life after school, whatever that may look like. And, the focus throughout therapy will be on allowing thoughts and emotions to surface in sessions, so that meaningful, positive changes can be made in everyday life.
Although teen therapy sessions are confidential and giving teens space in therapy is often very helpful, I am a strong advocate of teens talking to their parents. I will therefore encourage your teen to open up to you. Teens often feel scared or nervous to confide in parents, but many will overcome this fear with the support of a therapist. When necessary and appropriate, I also encourage family sessions. And, of course if your child is at risk, either to him/herself or others, I will legally and ethically break confidentiality at once.
As a systemically and relationally trained marriage and family therapist, I am very experienced in treating many child and adolescent diagnoses and disorders. My approach to teen therapy incorporates mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques to help process emotions and improve focus, self-reflection and self-acceptance. Wit this in mind, I believe in viewing and treating problems as separate to the people experiencing them. This means that even though your child may have a diagnosis of anxiety, depression, ADHD or chronic pain, I will see and treat your child as an individual. I will try to understand how his or her symptoms are influenced by relationships and I will celebrate his or her strengths and unique characteristics. Together, we will collaborate to manage whatever he or she is facing, but I will never allow your child’s diagnosis to define him or her. With the right support, I believe that your teen can overcome anxiety, depression or whatever other challenges he or she faces, allowing him or her to feel better equipped to handle and overcome life’s challenges.
Teens who undergo therapy at a young age are extremely fortunate as they have the opportunity to learn important life skills long before most people. It’s important for your teen to realize that just because he or she is struggling now, life will not always be difficult. With the help and support of a teen therapist, your teen can overcome current challenges and stave off future ones. He or she can create positive change, engage in a guided personal growth process and develop the insight and skills needed to flourish now and in the future.
You still may have questions or concerns about teen counseling…
There’s no way I can get my child to attend teen counseling.
Your teen may automatically oppose whatever you, as a parent, suggests. This pushback is a normal, but often frustrating aspect of teen development. It may help to explain that teen counseling is primarily about helping teens understand their experience and achieve their goals, rather than complying with parents’ wishes. In sessions, my focus will be on your teen’s agenda and we’ll move at a pace and in the direction that he or she chooses. That said, I know you will have your own goals for your teen and family. I will balance the needs of your teen, your desires, and those of your family. While your teen drives his or her sessions, your voice as a parent is also very important. I encourage your teen to try therapy for even three sessions to see if he or she enjoys and finds it productive. However, if your teen still refuses to come for therapy, come in yourself. We can discuss your unique situation and strategize ways to help your teen.
Will you tell me what’s going on in my teen’s life?
Many parents are curious and often deeply concerned about what their teen may disclose to a therapist, especially as teens typically speak more freely in therapy sessions than at home. However, unless your teen expresses something that’s cause for concern, I will respect and honor the confidentiality of our sessions. My job is to help your teen make safe, responsible choices, and it’s important for parents to trust the therapeutic process and my experience in helping teens disengage from risky behavior and make better choices going forward. And, if something concerning does come up, I’ll help your teen figure out how to tell you.
Maybe this problem behavior is just a normal teenage phase.
Almost all teenagers struggle at some point during the adolescent years. However, if you are concerned about your teen’s well-being, it’s best to be proactive and seek help sooner rather than later. As well as helping your child through difficult transitions, therapy for teens can be viewed as a preventative measure to protect against future struggles. Therapy can help everyone and isn’t just for serious issues. Teen therapy can help your child increase confidence, emotional maturity and feel more secure in his or her identity and place in the world.
Your Teen Can Work Through Struggles, Gain Confidence And Thrive
If you’re ready to begin taking steps toward improving your teen’s confidence and mending your relationship, I can help. Call 972-489-2658 today for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I can answer any questions you have about working with a teen therapist