Updated: Jun 16
Adolescence. It is a time of change, coming of age, and inevitably angst and turbulence. It can be one of the most difficult periods for both teenagers, and parents, who may have many questions and concerns. I will take a look at some of the major challenges, considering how therapy can address these, and to take the first step to book an appointment. This is mainly geared towards parents, but is helpful for teens who may be wondering whether they need to speak to a counsellor.
Each period of life comes with its own challenges, and we can consider several areas that may particularly affect teens.
The teenage years are full of both physical and psychological growth. The key area of growth is identity which begins to become more prominent and solidified, ideally leading to a flexible but stable sense of self as adolescence ends. With identity formation, peer pressure becomes more pervasive and persuasive, and many parents may struggle when they feel a loss of influence with their child. Increasingly, teenagers may start to evaluate both their gender identity and sexuality. This can be confusing and daunting for teenagers and parents. Parents may have reservations, questions and concerns, with a child who may explore a queer or trans identity. I have experience in supporting both families and teens negotiating these issues of identity.
Anyone who has survived adolescence is familiar with the rollercoaster of emotions that accompany this time. Hormones play an important role in regulating emotions, and areas like sleep and exercise which can impact emotions. Many teenagers may struggle with managing their feelings, which can strain their mental health. Parents often seek therapy for their children when concerned about anxiety and depression. Whether or not there are grounds for a diagnosis, what matters is that teenagers need to develop the skills for managing their internal psychological world. Therapy, is a relationship which allows exploration of difficult feelings, allowing them to be processed and understood.
Neurodiversity is a relatively new umbrella term which encompasses several challenges. You may be familiar with the Netflix show Atypical – individuals on the autism spectrum (ASD) can be considered to have an atypical neurological and psychological make-up. Attention-deficit and hyperactive disorder (ADHD) is also seen as a form of neurodiversity, and often anxiety can be an overlapping component. To oversimplify, teenagers may experience diversity in their psychological and neurological development, leading to unique challenges. This may include educational problems at school, impulsivity, dysregulated emotions, and behavioural issues. Often, psychological and neurological assessment can be a useful tool for diagnosis and intervention. Moreove, therapy provides effective support and can be helpful for neurodiverse teens. Beyond the ADHD and ASD is ultimately a child who needs help to relate, grow and thrive.
Does My Teenager Really Need Therapy?
Parents wrestle with this issue for a variety of reasons. I have noticed many common barriers to to seeking help, maybe you can relate to some of them.
Surely my child is too young to need therapy or have serious concerns?
Does this mean I am a bad parent?
Does this mean they are a bad child?
Can talking to a professional really help?
If you have made it this far, that says a lot. It says that you are a concerned parent, and it may mean your child needs help. If any of the concerns above resonate with you, then it may be worth taking the first step. Talking to your teenager directly can be a powerful way to start a conversation about their mental health, giving them a space to open up. Many adolescents have positive views about therapy, and you can start by exploring their feelings. If you still need some more information, you can see my FAQs. If you are ready or want to get in touch, keep reading to see the next steps.
Where Do We Start?
The process is very simple, and the first step is to get in touch. If you have questions, you are welcome to contact me, and we can even have a short call. You are also welcome to book a therapy session directly below. Consultations are weekly and begin as follows. The first three sessions will be with your teenager only. This is important because teen therapy is about developing a relationship for change, and so meeting with them first creates trust and security. Then, the fourth meeting will be a family meeting, the teenager will have the option to join along with the parents. This meeting will be an opportunity to discuss various matters that have been brought to therapy. It is also an opportunity for dialogue and questions from parents. The goal in this family meeting is to consider what will be a helpful way forward, and whether there is a good fit in therapy. Then, the process begins in earnest and we continue with weekly sessions, and family meetings as needed, which is often once a term.
In summary, the teenage years are a crucial time of psychological development, and therapy can provide a space and relationship for teenagers to address many challenges. If you are ready, you can take the first step today.