How Do I Know If My Child Needs Teen Counseling?
By: Nicole Beasley
Updated February 03, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Tanya Harell
Just as it is with child therapy, teen counseling is specifically directed towards a particular age group. Adolescence, often referred to as the teenage years, is a specific period of development. During this period of development adolescent children encounter a number of changes that are psychological, emotional, physical and social.
Psychological and emotional changes that occur during adolescence include but are not limited to the following:
- Adolescents may demonstrate strong feelings and intense emotions; moods may seem unpredictable and these emotions and lead to increased parental/child conflict during the teenage years. The adolescent brain continues to learn how to control and express emotion
- Adolescent children may misread facial expressions and body language and this may lead to the development sensitivity.
- Teenagers often equate success to appearance; self esteem in adolescence is often linked to how the teen believes they look and this may lead to feelings of self consciousness and comparison.
- During adolescence, teens seem to make more rash decisions and act without thinking. They have a difficult time with decision making and continue to learn that their actions have consequences. Some adolescents engage in risky decision making.
- Risky decision making may lead to issues with substance use and abuse.
- Teenagers may also decide to engage in sexual relationships. Based on their emotional and brain development, adolescents have a stronger need to find love relationships and often associated love with sex.
- Children making the transition to becoming adolescents have experienced puberty which involves the onset of a girls' menstrual cycle and a boys ability to make sperm. Essentially, both adolescent boys and girls can now create babies.
Social changes during adolescence may lead to the need for counseling also. These social changes include but are not limited to the following:
- Adolescent children are trying to find out who they are and where they fit or belong in the world. In order to achieve identity, young people may try new cloths, music, art, friendships and media.
- During adolescence, teenagers often strive for more independence and may want to go places and spend time with different people. This may lead to changes in the family and changes in friendships.
- Teenagers begin to take on more responsibility both at home and at school.
- Sometimes the need for independence and the requirement to be more responsible leads to more arguments with parents and younger siblings. It could also lead to arguments with teachers.
- Teenagers often look for new experiences including risk experiences. IT is important that boundaries are set but the developing teen needs to be able to express themselves and their individuality. Because the brain is not fully developed, the adolescent child may struggle with thinking through consequences.
- The adolescent child might start to engage in romantic relationships or go on dates.
- The media, including the internet and social media, can influence how your child communicates with friends and how they learn about the world.
- Social media becomes a big part of the adolescent's life and often times teenagers can engage in activities on social media that may not be appropriate.
Adolescents are essentially moving through this important time period toward adulthood. Adolescence is pivotal time of understanding and development where teens seek their identity and they seek acceptance. Most teenagers are able to move through adolescence with very little difficulty. Arguments with parents are inevitable and friends will come and go, however, sometimes young people find it difficult and experience more extreme circumstances such as bullying or drug use. Although there are a number of very typical changes that occur in adolescence, sometimes, teenagers require some help navigating the changes. Sometimes parents also need help navigating all of the changes.
A good therapist trained in understanding the typical development of adolescents can help parents and the adolescent navigate this time period. Online therapists who are trained in adolescent development and issues can prove beneficial and accepting. Therapy/counseling may encourage an understanding of the adolescent and the developmental aspects of this stage in life. Typical human development, especially the developmental time period called adolescence, can affect a person's behavior and state of mind, but it is not always negative. An ethical and caring online therapist can engage the adolescent in the positive aspects of growing and help them deal with the negative aspects of growing up. It is a process of learning and listening and helping and teenagers and parents can definitely benefit from the process.
Issues that are often encountered in therapy and counseling for adolescence include but are not limited to the following issues:
- Personality and identity growth.
- Independence or distance parents or guardians.
- Increased arguments between parents and adolescents
- Puberty or physical and emotional changes.
- Building of new and intense relationships.
- Awareness and understanding of problems such as parents fighting or getting divorced.
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Risky behaviors
- Positive use of social media
Any of these issues and others may have a profound effect on an adolescent or teen as they transition into adulthood. Some may wonder if teen counseling is worth considering for their teen. The truth is that every teen can benefit from counseling, as it can help them go through perhaps one of the first anxious moments of their lives as well as help them control such anxious feelings later on.
Topics Discussed in Teen Counseling
First, therapists can identify, assess, and treat learning disabilities, behavioral concerns, anxiety disorders, and autism. Abuse and neglect can also be noted through these sessions or brief observations, as well as eating disorders and addictions. However, there is always some form of therapy session available for those who have other issues.
There is no problem too complex or too simple to be expressed and discussed during teen counseling. This is because it is understood that, to a teen, everything is monumental or serious, since it may very well be their first experience with the matter and they are unsure how to resolve it themselves.
As listed in "Child and Adolescent Issues", some topics that a teen is encouraged to discuss can include parental divorce, death of a loved one, physical or sexual abuse, poverty, domestic violence, bullying, and unrealistic responsibilities or expectations.
Teen Counseling Options
Your counseling options depend on your child's situation or circumstances. For example, there are various types of art therapies that can allow your teen to express and treat their issues indirectly through some kind of creative task, such as painting or drawing.
For more traumatic issues, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) has been proven to be highly effective.
However, talk therapies are more common and helpful treatments for teenagers overall. These types of therapies can be found anywhere, but for your convenience, your teen can also speak with a certified therapist online through BetterHelp.