The Benefits Of Therapy For Your Growing and Changing Teen

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated May 3, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Adolescence can be a challenging life stage. Teens deal with the physical changes of puberty, new social circles, changing schools, and a higher expectation of responsibility than previously awarded, with some seeking therapy. Many teens report feeling challenged mentally and emotionally as they become young adults. There are different stages of adolescence, and understanding the adolescent age range can be important to grasp the experiences of teens.

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Offer your teen the support they need

The adolescent age range is broken down into three phases, each having different challenges and goals. According to a 2021 statistical report, nearly 14% of teens aged 12-17 in the United States experienced a major depressive episode within one year of the report, and 40% of teens with depression reached out for support from a professional.

If your teen is struggling with mental health challenges during the teenage years that are beginning to affect their life negatively, you may be wondering how you can best help them. Many parents worry about the problems their teenagers face such as excessive screen time, skipping school, or other destructive behaviors. In such situations, seeking help from a treatment provider can help develop healthy coping skills for teens, which can prove to be extremely important for their emotional well-being. Through working with a trained counselor or other mental health professionals, your teen can learn to identify and manage their difficult feelings and intense emotions, and carry these new coping skills with them into adulthood.

Should you enroll your teen in counseling? 

It's important to recognize that different mental health approaches may affect individuals differently. As such, it may be up to you and your family whether teen counseling could be effective, but how do I know if my teenager needs counseling? According to recent research, teen therapy can provide a leg of support for troubled teenagers facing emotional reactions and stress during their teenage years. This is especially true when mental health treatment is combined with an effective support network of trusted adults and healthy coping mechanisms.

Studies have found that offering mental health intervention programs like therapy to teenagers can help dissuade disruptive behavior, lessen affective symptoms of mood disorders like depression and anxiety, offer a constructive social skill-building environment, and allow for a stronger sense of personal well-being. These forms of mental health support via therapists can help teens have a safe place to open up about issues, including mental health problems, medication management, health, stress, and home life with a licensed therapist.

When should your child see a therapist?

The warning signs your teen should see a therapist can be personal and vary from individual to individual. You might consider teenage counseling if they require additional support that cannot be offered by friends, family members, a school counselor, or other existing support options. A more structured treatment plan for teen mental health conditions affecting their life may be found through therapy. However, therapy can benefit anyone; a teen without a mental health condition may also benefit from professional advice as they navigate family conflicts, overall mental well being, and life in general.

Discuss therapy options with your teen to see whether they believe it would be appropriate to begin treatment. For struggling adolescents, mental health services may be the best option to help them cope with their emotions in a healthy way. This can be a difficult conversation to have, but it is an important one that will help your teen in the long run; therapy can also be a good treatment for difficult symptoms your teen may be facing, like self harm or panic attacks. You may also discuss the idea with your child’s primary care physician; they're professionals and good for helping teens with anxiety.

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Types of psychotherapy to support your child

There are many types of therapy available for teens experiencing mental health challenges, including individual and group therapies. 

Individual therapy 

Individual therapy involves a one-on-one meeting with a mental health professional to address concerns and build strategies for managing mental health. Individual therapy services can address mental health problems and conditions like eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses.

These therapies may benefit teenagers struggling with feeling insecure, embarrassed, or ashamed of their concerns. The environment of individual therapy may help them feel more comfortable and capable of addressing their mental health problems. 

Some forms of individual therapy for teens can include

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)is a psychotherapeutic approach that targets behavioral problems by reorganizing patterns of thinking to be more constructive.
  • Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) aims to help individuals achieve a better understanding of themselves and their emotions. DBT emphasizes personal responsibility and conflict resolution.
  • Acceptance And Commitment Therapy (ACT)involves learning to accept your emotional state and addressing it in a healthy, positive way in the future.

To find a therapist that offers individual therapy for teens, search for “teen counseling in my area” or look through online directories.

Group counseling 

Talking directly with others and engaging in positive self talk can be the most effective way for some teens to address their concerns. Group therapy, in particular, can be extremely beneficial for teens as it can make them feel less isolated and more supported as they address their mental health problem. Through talking with their peers, teens identify how to interact constructively with other teens and develop valuable communication skills, in addition to working through mental health concerns with licensed mental health professionals.

Group therapy sessions may be held within small groups of individuals guided by a professional through various exercises and discussions. These sessions for teenagers often focus on using group dynamics to explore and resolve various mental health concerns.

Some forms of group counseling can include:

  • Family Therapy, which can be a transformative approach for the whole family, as each therapy session aims to build a more supportive and productive family dynamic.
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT),which focuses specifically on offering real-time coaching for parents and their children to establish positive interaction patterns.
  • Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT), which may sometimes include two separate session environments, group and individual, to help build social skills and a sense of responsibility for one’s actions.
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Offer your teen the support they need

Online therapy for teens: Help from licensed mental health professionals

I can't find teen counseling near me-- is there any other option? If you believe your teen would benefit from mental health resources such as therapy, there are many forms of therapy you can try. Online therapy can also be beneficial for teenagers or families struggling with scheduling or finding time to commute to in person visits. With internet-based treatment, you can stay connected to a counselor through video, phone, or live chat sessions. Additionally, you can message your counselor anytime, responding to challenges as they happen rather than delaying them until the next session. 

Online therapy is on the rise in the modern world, and peer reviewed studies suggest that it can be as effective as in-person counterparts in treating various mental health conditions, including mood disorders like anxiety and depression, which are common among teenagers. It has been proven particularly effective for teens due to their familiarity with online platforms in general.

If your troubled teen is open to trying online counseling, they can sign up through an online platform like TeenCounseling with parental consent. In parenting teenagers, you would also benefit from counseling; platforms like BetterHelp offer appointments for adults and get to a growing database of licensed therapists. With affordable rates, you don’t have to worry about substantial therapy fees or fight for insurance coverage.

Takeaway

Adolescence can be a difficult period of life for many individuals. With a rapid change in physical, mental, emotional, and societal norms, teens may feel overwhelmed or challenged. If you feel your teen could use professional support, seeking a therapist matched to their needs might be valuable. If you suspect your teen may be experiencing a mental illness, early diagnosis via working with a therapist can be a way to minimize the impact of the illness on your child’s life. Don't hesitate to reach out and learn more about how therapy can help your teen cope with life's challenges and grow into a more confident, independent adult.

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