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  • Writer's pictureDr. Samantha Brustad

What to Expect in Teen Therapy: A Comprehensive Guide



Teen therapy can be a huge asset in helping teens navigate life in a healthy manner. Teenagers can work with licensed therapists to receive individualized care that caters to their needs. Therapy’s benefits are endless, covering various topics like assisting with life transitions, managing traumatic events, and building strong daily habits.


Therapists form one part of a support system for their clients, fostering meaningful connections with teens to help them feel understood and empowered. Therapy can help teens develop coping mechanisms, improve communication skills, and address any underlying emotional or psychological issues contributing to their problems.


During therapy sessions, teens can expect to talk about their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in a safe and confidential environment. The therapist will work with the teen to identify any negative patterns of thinking or behavior and develop strategies to manage them. Therapy can also help teens better understand themselves and their relationships with others.


Parental support and participation in the process can be a huge asset for teens seeking therapy. Parents can help their teens by encouraging open communication, being non-judgmental, and providing a safe and supportive home environment. By working together with their teen’s therapist, parents can help teens reach their therapy goals and improve their overall mental health and well-being.


If you are located in the Saint Petersburg or Tampa Bay areas and are searching for a psychology group specializing in child and adolescent therapy, we at Balanced Minds may be the perfect fit for you and your family. Thanks to our decades of combined experience, accepting environment, and conveniently located office, we can support your teen through life’s challenges. Reach out to us if you are interested in starting a consultation!


With that said, let’s dive into our comprehensive guide to teen therapy.


What is Teen Therapy?

Teen therapy is a type of mental health treatment that focuses on helping adolescents deal with various issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, trauma, problems at school or with friends, self-esteem, and complicated feelings. Therapy can be a valuable tool for teens who are struggling with mental health disorders, coping skills, or communication.


Types of Therapy

Several types of therapy can be effective for teens:

  • Individual therapy: In individual therapy, the teen meets one-on-one with a therapist to discuss their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Individual therapy can help teens set goals, develop coping skills, and work through difficult emotions.

  • Group therapy: Group therapy involves a therapist leading a group of teens experiencing similar issues. Group therapy provides a supportive environment for teens to practice new coping skills and learn from each other.

  • Family therapy: Family therapy involves the teen and their family members meeting with a therapist to work through issues affecting the entire family. Family therapy can help improve communication and support between family members.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It can be effective in treating anxiety and depression.

  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of CBT that combines strategies like mindfulness, acceptance and emotional regulation. It is helpful in treating suicidal ideation and self-harm because it teaches teens to cope with emotions and change unhealthy behaviors.

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT focuses on accepting difficult emotions and committing to actions that align with the teen's values. ACT also heavily involves mindfulness, allowing teens to manage stress and anxiety by focusing on the present moment.

Teens need to find the right therapist and approach that works for them. Some teens may benefit from a more structured approach, while others prefer a more relaxed, conversational style. It is also essential for therapists to be trained in working with adolescents and to have experience in dealing with the specific struggles that teens face.

If you are still determining which type of therapy would work best for your teen, we recommend reaching out for a consultation to receive recommendations based on the specifics of your situation.


How Does Teen Therapy Work?

Teen therapy connects teens with a licensed therapist or psychologist to discuss problems and learn ways to work through them. Treatment can be done in individual or group settings, possibly involving family members in the process. Teen therapy aims to help teens improve their mental health and overall well-being.


The Role of the Therapist

The therapist provides support, guidance, and tools to help teens navigate their struggles. The therapist will work with the teen to identify their goals and develop a plan to achieve them. They will also help the teen develop coping skills.

Therapists use a variety of approaches to help teens, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and mindfulness. They may also use talk therapy, which involves discussing problems and emotions in a safe and supportive environment.


The Role of the Teen

Teens play an active role in their therapy. Teens are encouraged to be honest and open with their therapist and to participate fully in the process. This may involve completing homework assignments, practicing new coping skills, and being willing to try new approaches.


It's essential for teens to communicate their needs and goals to their therapist and to be willing to ask for help when they need it. They should also be willing to take responsibility for their progress and work collaboratively with their therapist to achieve their goals.


The Role of the Family

Family members can significantly influence the results of teen therapy. In some cases, family therapy may be recommended to help improve communication and support within the family unit. This can be especially helpful when the teen's struggles impact the entire family.


Parents can also provide support outside therapy by helping their teen practice new coping skills, encouraging healthy habits like exercise and proper nutrition, and providing emotional support. It's vital for parents to be involved in their teen's therapy process and to communicate openly with their teen's therapist.


The Benefits of Teen Therapy

Teen therapy can be a valuable tool for improving mental health and well-being. With the proper mental health professional and familial support, teens can develop the skills and tools to manage difficult emotions, cope with stress, and work towards a happier, healthier future.


Improved Mental Health

One of the main benefits of teen therapy is improved mental health. Therapy can help teens cope with various mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Teens can learn how to manage their emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms by working with mental health professionals.


Therapy is extraordinarily effective at building self-esteem in teens, providing new ways to navigate life’s challenges and allowing them to focus more on activities and hobbies that bring them joy.


Better Relationships

Teen therapy can also help a teen develop stronger relationships with family and friends. Working with a therapist can teach teens to communicate better and build conflict-resolution skills. Family therapy, in particular, can be beneficial for improving communication and reducing conflict within the family.


Increased Self-Awareness

Teen therapy also helps grow self-awareness in teenagers. Teens can better understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors by working with a mental health professional. This increased self-awareness can help teens identify areas for personal growth and work towards their goals.


Improved Coping Skills

Finally, teen therapy can help improve coping skills. By learning new coping mechanisms, teens can better manage stress and difficult emotions. This can lead to improved mental health and overall well-being.


Common Issues Addressed in Teen Therapy

Therapy can help teens cope with various mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, ADHD, behavioral problems, trauma, grief, and issues with relationships and family. The following sub-sections explore some of the most common issues addressed in teen therapy:


Anxiety and Depression

Many teens experience symptoms of anxiety and depression, such as overwhelming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and irritability. According to the CDC, in 2022, clinical depression in teens affected 6% of the population, with that number rising to nearly 11% for cases of anxiety.


Therapy can help teens develop coping skills to manage these difficult emotions and improve their overall mental health. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are two types of therapy that can be particularly effective for treating anxiety and depression in teens.


ADHD and Behavioral Issues

Neurodivergent teens may struggle with impulsivity, hyperactivity, and difficulty concentrating. Behavioral issues like aggression and defiance can also be challenging for teens and their families. The CDC reports that over 3.3 million children aged 12 through 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD in the United States alone.


Therapy can help teens learn strategies to improve their focus, manage their behavior, and develop healthy coping skills. Individual, group, and family therapy may be practical approaches for addressing ADHD and behavioral issues in teens.


Check out our other blog posts regarding psychological and psychoeducational evaluations to learn more about what to do if you believe your child may have ADHD, learning disorder or autism.


Trauma and Grief

Traumatic events can turn a teen’s life upside down. Teens who have experienced trauma or loss may benefit from therapy to help them process their emotions and develop healthy coping skills.


Therapists may use techniques such as mindfulness and movement to help teens learn to manage complicated feelings and build resilience. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can often manifest in adolescents who have experienced traumatic events and may present symptoms common to other behavioral disorders to an untrained eye. It is crucial for teens to work with mental health professionals to get the proper treatment they need.


Family and Relationship Issues

Family and relationship issues can be particularly challenging for teens. Therapy can help teens improve communication skills and develop healthy relationships with family members, friends, and romantic partners. Family therapy can be particularly effective for addressing issues such as divorce, conflict, and communication breakdowns.


Overall, therapy can be a valuable tool for helping teens improve their mental health, develop coping skills, and achieve their goals. Teens and their parents must work together to find the right therapist and approach to meet their unique needs and preferences.


Finding the Right Therapist

When searching for a mental health professional for your teen, there are a few things to keep in mind. It's essential to find someone experienced in working with adolescents. Additionally, your teen must work with someone they feel comfortable sharing with. Here are some questions to ask and what to look for during your search:


Questions to Ask

When looking for a therapist for your teen, asking questions is vital to ensure they're a good fit. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • What experience do you have working with adolescents?

  • What type of therapy do you use?

  • What is your approach to treatment?

  • What are your qualifications?

  • What is your availability?

What to Look for

When you're looking for a therapist for your teen, there are a few things to look for:

  • Experience working with adolescents

  • Comfortable and welcoming environment

  • Clear communication and good listening skills

  • Respectful and non-judgmental attitude

  • Ability to provide tools and coping skills

Remember that finding the right therapist for your teen may take time and effort, but finding someone who can provide the support and guidance they need to work through their struggles and progress towards their goals is worth it.


Final Thoughts on Teen Therapy

Adolescence can be a difficult life period, full of challenges. Finding a mental health professional adequately equipped to assist a teen can work wonders in improving a teen’s ability to manage life’s challenges.


The best mental health professionals for teen therapy provide a safe and supportive environment, allowing teens to be involved in the therapeutic process actively. Additionally, it is important to find a therapy group that offers various therapeutic services that can adapt to the specific needs of your teen’s case rather than using a cookie-cutter approach.


Are you looking for therapists in Saint Petersburg for teenagers? Here at Balanced Minds Psychology & Wellness we specialize in helping adolescents navigate life’s challenges. Our Tampa Bay psychology group has decades of combined experience and has worked with many adolescents through anxiety, depression, behavioral difficulties, LGBTQ+ issues, traumas, and more!


If you are ready to start the therapy process, contact us today to start a free consultation, either over telehealth or in person!




 

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 911 or contact the following resources for support:


https://mhanational.org/crisisresources


https://www.apa.org/topics/crisis-hotlines


https://www.nami.org/help


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