As a teenager, it can be difficult to navigate the challenges and stressors of adolescence. From dealing with academic pressure to navigating relationships to figuring out one’s identity, the teenage years can be a time of great change and growth. However, for some teens, these challenges can become overwhelming, leading to mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, and behavior problems. During these challenges in their most formative years, teens need support and understanding more than ever. Below, we’ll explore what you need to know about teen counseling and signs your teenager might need it.
What is Teen Counseling?
Teen counseling isn’t very different from adult therapy in practice. The main difference is that it’s specifically designed to address the unique concerns and challenges that teenagers face. It provides a safe and confidential space where teenagers can explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and learn coping strategies to deal with the challenges of adolescence.
What Issues Can It Help Adolescents With?
Teen counseling can address a wide range of issues including, but not limited to:
- Social Anxiety: As they develop, teens put increasingly more importance on social standing and interpersonal relationships outside of the home. This sudden prioritization of their social life and where they fit in can lead to an intense fear of judgment and begin developing social anxiety. Actually, counseling can help them manage these feelings and develop the confidence to lead healthy social lives.
- Anxiety In Any Form: More than 30% of teenagers experience some kind of anxiety disorder. The cause could be a multitude of stressors anywhere from family instability, to pressure towards being the best. Whatever the cause, they need a safe place to process their anxiety and learn the skills to move past it. Counselors are trained to offer both.
- Depression: While the challenges teens face are valid, hormone levels are all over the place making these challenges seem severe and permanent. Teen counseling can help teens to understand and cope with feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
- Finding Their Identity: A fundamental part of adolescence is figuring out your identity. We all go through a period of figuring out our place in the world, and counseling can provide a space for teens to talk it out and have guidance to walk their path to adulthood in a healthy way. Some teens also need help with their gender identity which can be especially confusing for them and scary to talk about.
- Relationship problems: Counseling can help teens improve communication skills, build healthy relationships, and learn how to resolve conflicts. They may struggle with setting boundaries or communication in general. Whatever the specific relationship issue, these skills can help them establish healthier connections with their family, peers, and partners.
Signs That Your Teen Might Need Counseling
Sometimes, it can be difficult to know if your teenager would benefit from counseling. However, there are some signs that may indicate that your teenager is struggling and could benefit from professional help. Some of these signs include:
- Changes in mood: As teenagers’ hormones swing, so do their moods. If, however, your teenager seems more irritable, sad, or anxious than usual for longer, it could be a sign that they are struggling. Teen counseling can help them balance their emotions and stay in control.
- Changes in behavior: Teenagers sometimes start showing self-destructive behaviors, or lashing out at others. They usually do so because they don’t have the tools to communicate that they need help coping with stress or emotional pain.
- Difficulty in school: If your teenager is struggling academically or socially at school, there is likely a deeper issue within. This could be an internal mental health challenge like anxiety or depression. However, it could also be brought on (or at least exasperated by) external issues like bullying.
- Withdrawing from activities or friends: If your teenager is withdrawing from activities or friends that they used to enjoy, they are likely struggling emotionally. Trying to figure out on your own whether it’s because of social anxiety, depression, or some other mental health issue is counterproductive and possibly harmful. Instead, consult with a trained and licensed counselor.
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness: Is your teenager expressing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness? It could be that they’re struggling to handle their emotions or the first signs of depression. Either way, these issues will likely get worse if not addressed.
Setting Your Child Up For Success In Adulthood With Teen Counseling
Adolescence is a wild ride. Apart from facing physical, mental, and emotional changes through development, they also have to navigate changing social dynamics. Some teens adapt just fine with only minor bumps in the road. Others, however, struggle hard against developing the skills to adapt and balance these changes. Remember that it’s perfectly normal, and these teens are not lacking anything. Instead, they just need understanding, support, and someone to guide them through this confusing time. Teen counseling can not only provide this but also help adolescents develop the skills they need to thrive.
My name is Jessica Harrison LCSW and I’ve helped teens with their unique developmental and life challenges for over 24 years. I provide both in-person and online counseling. So whether you’re near Palm Beach Gardens, or anywhere else in Florida, contact me today, and let’s give your child the support and tools for a healthy transition to successful adulthood.