Teens and Counseling
By: Vanessa Gonzalez
We were once all were moody teenagers at one point in time. However, it can be hard to remember just how difficult it actually was as an adult. The teenage years can be challenging for not only the teens but also for the parents. Teenagers face many pressures, especially when they are expected to act like adults but are treated like a child. Adolescents may not react the healthiest in response to the challenges and problems they encounter.
It can be tough to tell when a teen is experiencing a hard time, especially when troubling behavior can be a part of the teenager experience. However, suppose these behavioral issues last weeks or months or severely interfere with adolescents’ daily functioning. In that case, a mental health professional may need to be contacted to help cope with their problems. Parents should be aware of the warning and “help me” signs their child may be giving them and how to find a counselor in case their teen needs one.
Think back to what problems you may have faced, which are expected while growing up. Such as navigating social networks and peer groups, learning more about your own identity, interests, and who you are, and then adding the stress of school and the future. As a parent or caregiver, you can help your child by providing a non-judgmental, patient, and supportive environment and talking to them about some of their issues.
There may be some additional issues that you may need to contact a counselor to help with:
- Drastic life changes such as moving, divorce, serious illness in the family, or death of a loved one
- The loss of a closed relationship, whether friend or romantic partner, through death, moving, or a break up.
- The child may be experiencing disability or illness
- Any kind of substance abuse or addiction
- Bullying or abuse
- Teen pregnancy
- Learning or experiencing tragic events that go on around them
Here are some signs to look out for to know that your teen may need to see an experienced counselor:
- Have lost interest in things that they used to enjoy
- Have low energy
- Sleep too much or too little, or seem sleepy throughout the day
- Are spending more and more time alone, and avoid social activities with friends or family
- Diet or exercise excessively, or fear gaining weight may indicate an eaing disorder
- Violent behavior such harming others or animals or threatening to harm others or animals
- Engage in self-harm behaviors (such as cutting or burning their skin)
- Use tobacco, drink alcohol, or use drugs
- Engage in risky or destructive behavior alone or with friends
- Illegal activities
- Running away from home
- Change in school performance or attendance
- Have thoughts of suicide – even joking around, writing about death, drawing, or feelings of worthlessness or feeling that the world would be better off without them
- Rapid changes in mood or personality that last more than six weeks
- Think someone is trying to control their mind or hear/see things others cannot
Teens who exhibit any of these signs should be taken to a health professional to be evaluated for conditions that may lead to more negative coping behaviors. For example, a teen may be asked to stay in a hospital if they are actively suicidal or experience negative behaviors.
There are several types of adolescent counseling that may benefit troubled teens:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy( CBT) can help the teen reduce negative thought patterns that lead to negative behavior, helps teens reduce their negative thought patterns, and increase positive behaviors.
- Interpersonal therapy can help the teen learn how they relate to others
- Problem-solving therapy teaches teens positive coping skills to deal with their problems.
- Group therapy allows teens to meet others who may be experiencing similar difficulties and create a community and supportive environment.
- Family therapy is not only beneficial for the teen, but can also help their families understand and support the teen.
- Some medications may be recommended to improve the teens overall quality of life, which would be discussed with the parents before any prescription is provided.
Individual or group therapy can help the adolescent:
- Understand why their behaviors and thoughts and why they have them
- Recognize and challenge negative thoughts that may cause or trigger their negative behaviors
- Explore positive coping skills to replace negative behaviors
- Learn better social skills
It is important to remember that mental illness can be managed ad treated regardless of age. It may be helpful for the teen to have emergency numbers available on their phones in case the parent or guardian is not available. The ability to contact someone for immediate help can make a huge difference.
- The phone number for a trusted friend or relative
- The non-emergency number for the local police department can be found here: Emergency Contacts | Palm Beach Gardens, FL – Official Website (pbgfl.com)
- The Crisis Text Line: 741741
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Looking for a psychologist for teenagers in Jupiter? We offer therapy for teens and adolescents including CBT, DBT, and EMDR in Northern Palm Beach County.