Does my Teen Need a Psychotherapist?
If you are wondering if your teen needs a counselor, it is likely that you and/or others have noticed at least one emotional and behavioral change in him or her. One of the factors that makes the determination about whether your teen needs professional help a little tricky is that warning signs are not always obvious, some common symptoms include: persistent irritability, anger, sadness, social withdrawal (does not seem to be spending time with or talking to friends as much as usual), as well as major changes in appetite or sleep. Also it may be that their mood seems to have abruptly or significantly changed. For instance, they may appear persistently sad, “stressed out”, “nervous”, or talking about death or dying, including posting pictures or phrases on social media with “sad” or morbid messages.
Mental health problems can also disrupt school performance; you may have noticed that their academic achievement has declined and school work is lacking (incomplete or undone assignment, or disinterest in anything school related). You may offer extra help or seek additional help (schools commonly offer tutoring or teacher will offer additional support) if it is simply trouble with the subject matter. Keep in mind that mental health problems can lead to dysfunction in other life areas as well. Unfortunately, due to the stigma regarding mental health some adolescents and their families do not seek help.
Adolescence is a phase of substantial growth, a time when the brain develops quickly and the body grows and matures faster than later in life. Accompanying these major changes are also some normal limitations in one’s ability to manage impulsive behaviors and employ good judgement. The changes in the mind and body, influenced by hormonal changes and other biological and environmental factors, can be for the most part well managed but other times can lead to risky or impulsive actions that can limit or harm an adolescent’s opportunities later in life.
Gaining knowledge and skill will not prevent all difficulties in life, as we will all naturally face them, but these will allow your adolescent to choose healthier behaviors and limit negative outcomes. As your adolescent has the chance to build knowledge and skills that promote positive emotional and social experiences, he or she is building a brighter future.
A resilient teen is one who for the most part copes effectively in the face of difficult circumstances. The strategies we use to manage life’s difficulties and stressors are our coping skills and these can be improved with knowledge and practice. Adolescents can learn to use coping skills that are proven to effectively
address stress, such as exercising regularly and learning relaxation techniques.
Yet there are times where additional help from a trained psychotherapist who has experience working with teens is warranted and very helpful. Effective treatments including psychotherapy (talk therapy, counseling) can help reduce the impact of mental health problems on your adolescent’s life. Talk to your teen in a non-judgmental stance (See my Blog on this) about what you have noticed and seek additional help.