A person’s teenage years are often filled with exciting moments, strong friendships, and rewarding learning experiences, but this time usually comes with its unique challenges, too. Whether your teen is facing social troubles, body image concerns, academic pressure, or other stressors, connecting them with a mental health provider can give them a safe space to process their feelings, learn healthy coping mechanisms, and manage the symptoms of any teen mental health conditions they might be experiencing, if applicable. Below, we discuss common challenges your teenager may be facing at this time of life and how to find counseling so that they can address them.
Common Challenges Teenagers May Face
Teens typically experience a variety of changes during adolescence. If they also have or develop symptoms of a mental health condition like depression or anxiety, for instance, handling these may become even more difficult. Here are a few types of challenges adolescents often face, all of which are valid reasons for seeking teen counseling.
Handling Physical Changes
The teenage years are typically marked by significant physical changes. As these occur, your teen might experience troubling feelings of insecurity. For some teenagers, issues with their body image can also develop into more significant challenges if they aren’t addressed. According to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, 95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. These conditions can have significant long-term effects on an individual’s physical and mental health, but their impact can be greatly mitigated if they’re identified and treated early. Treatment usually includes psychotherapy, though a medical intervention may be required in more severe cases.
If you or someone you know is living with an eating disorder, help is available. Consider reaching out to the National Eating Disorder Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 (M-Th: 9 AM–9 PM EST, Fri: 9 AM–5 PM EST).
Discovering Sexuality And Gender Identity
Another challenge for many teenagers is coming to terms with their developing sexuality and making choices related to it. This can be especially true for teens who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community. According to The Trevor Project, they’re significantly more likely to be bullied and are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide. A counselor can offer them support and guidance as they work through the discovery process and manage any difficult emotions that may arise.
Are There Child Counselors Near Me?
Looking for 'child counselors near me'? If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, help is available. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7 and can be reached by calling or texting 988 or chatting online with a representative. The Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQIA+ youth specifically can be reached at (866)488-7386.
Coping With Social Pressure
Teens often feel the urge to keep pace with their peers. For example, they may see their friends reaching milestones or achieving certain goals—like starting relationships, getting a driver’s license, succeeding in sports, or receiving a scholarship—more quickly than they are. Often, these feelings of inadequacy or being behind may also be accompanied by social pressure about sexuality, drugs and alcohol, and social media. All of the above can lead to feelings of teen stress and loneliness, which a therapist can help your child manage.
Addressing Mental Health Concerns
Mental illness can affect people of all ages. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in seven young people globally (ages 10 to 19) currently experiences a mental health disorder. An untreated mental illness can negatively impact your teenager’s day-to-day functioning and quality of life. It can also lead to dangerous behaviors and can cause significant problems in adulthood if left untreated. Especially when coupled with the other stressors that come bundled with being a teenager, mental health conditions can be difficult to cope with. That’s why seeking professional mental health treatment is usually recommended for teenagers in this situation.
The Benefits Of Counseling For Teens
Difficult emotions and situations can make a teenager feel frustrated, isolated, overwhelmed, or scared and can negatively impact their overall well-being. These feelings may even contribute to the development or exacerbation of a mental health disorder—the rates of which have been on the rise in young people in recent years, as reported by the CDC.
A counselor or therapist can work with your teenager to unpack difficult feelings. They can assist them in identifying strategies for managing their emotions and help them learn useful life skills like communicating more clearly and resolving conflict. They can also help support them in working through any underlying issues such as concerns regarding self-esteem or past trauma. In other words, a trained teen therapist can help your child work through the challenges they’re currently facing and equip them with strategies to continue to do so as they progress through life. If they have a mental health disorder, the provider can also teach them how to manage their symptoms.
Finally, a counselor can also be useful to teenagers specifically because they can provide them with an unbiased, nonjudgmental perspective, which can sometimes be hard for a parent or guardian to do. Teenagers may feel embarrassed or nervous to talk about their true feelings or discuss certain topics at home, and a therapist can make communicating with teens a little better because they give a safe space for them to open up. Whether they’re feeling disappointed about an unrequited crush or dreading an exam, a licensed counselor can be there to listen and help them regain perspective.
Therapy Modalities Commonly Used With Teenagers
A mental health professional might utilize several different therapeutic approaches when providing teenage counseling. The specific modality used will often depend on the concerns your teen is living with, any symptoms they’re experiencing, and the therapist’s area of expertise. For example, if your teen is living with a phobia, the provider may use exposure therapy to help address their symptoms.
One of the most common forms of therapy counselors use to help teenagers is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can help teens learn to recognize potentially harmful thought patterns that may be causing distressing emotions and behaviors. For instance, they could help someone identify and shift unfounded beliefs they have about being judged by their peers, which may help mitigate symptoms of social anxiety. The counselor and your teenager may be able to locate the source of their uncomfortable feelings and work together to learn to replace the flawed thoughts that lead to them.
Where To Find Counseling For Your Teenager
You can do an online search for mental health care providers in your area who specialize in adolescents. If you have a health insurance plan that your teen is covered on, you can ask your insurance company for a list of covered providers in your location instead. If your teen would prefer to meet with a therapist from the comfort of home, an online mode for a struggling teen therapy is also an option. Research suggests that it offers similar benefits and results to in-person sessions, which means that in most cases, your teenager can choose the method that feels most comfortable for them.
A virtual therapy platform like TeenCounseling can connect them with a licensed therapist with your consent, who they can meet with via phone, video call, and/or online chat. If you’re looking for support for yourself as you face the challenges of being a parent, an online therapy platform like BetterHelp can provide the same services but for adults. If you’re interested in virtual therapy for yourself or your teen, read on for client reviews of BetterHelp therapists who have provided support to parents or their teens.
"I reached out to BetterHelp to obtain counseling for my teenage daughter. She has only met with Kathy once so far but I've noticed a change in her demeanor after one session. She said Kathy was very easy to talk to and that she gave her some mental tools to try. I can't wait for my daughter to have another session with Kathy!"
"Nadja is an amazing therapist; she's very understanding and sympathetic to all my concerns and traumas. She has guided me to more content to review during the week to help me understand my feelings, traumas, and relatable situations. I recommend Nadja as a counselor, especially for women who feel they need woman-to-woman advice. I found her way of counseling was as nurturing as a mother’s advice."
Frequently Asked Questions
For examples of questions that might be beneficial to explore in therapy, please see below.
How can I get a counselor without my parents knowing?
Is there a therapist I can text for free?
Who can I talk about my problems with?
What age is appropriate for counseling?
Should I force my child to go to counseling?
Do counselors tell your parents everything?
Can counseling be damaging?
How do you help a child who doesn't want help?
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