Finding the Way: Help for Adolescents

Help For Your Teen

adolecent therapy
Photo credit Amarins Spandaw used under license.

Parenting teens isn’t for cowards. Helping your adolescent navigate the tricky teen years can leave you feeling scared, worried and sometimes despairing. Teens seem to be confronted with more choices, more challenges and more temptations than ever before. Your teen likely feels pulled to opposite ends of decisions and choices; torn between childhood and adulthood and feeling lost or out of control. It can be hard for a parent or caregiver to find that balance of staying involved in their life, and letting them learn the ropes of life. Therapists at Russell Counselling provide adolescent therapy and can be an important extra resource to help your teen navigate the terrain.

You are no alone and your situation with your teen is not unique! Many parents struggle to understand the behaviors, choices and rapid changes of mood in their teen. Very commonly, the teen doesn’t understand what’s going on inside them either and will retreat from the parent and/or share only with their friends away from home. It can be scary to feel that you are losing control and influence over your teen. At Russell and Associates, we have regularly helped teens with depression and anxiety issues of all kinds. We help teens navigate the complicated and ever-changing landscape of the relationships with friends. Who is friends with whom and why takes up a lot of mental and emotional energy for a teen and they can feel that they cant come to a parent to sort that out. Relationships within the home can also be a source of stress and tension for the teen and the whole family.  Other issues that we commonly talk with teens about include, body image and disordered eating, cyber-bullying and other social media challenges, identity formation and simply learning to regulate their emotions. So, remember that these challenges are common across all kinds of families and across all neighborhoods.  You are not alone and your challenge with your teen is not new to us. The good news, however, is that with the help of a compassionate and experienced therapist, you teen can navigate through these years and come out the other side stronger, more confident and more equipped to do adulthood.

How do we Go About Helping an Adolescent

The therapists that work with adolescents at Russell and Associates genuinely love the teens they work with. Your teens’s therapist will be genuine in her approach will treat then as a unique individual. She takes the time to understand unique styles of dress, language, music, and culture. So, instead of giving quick advise, she invites conversation.

adolescent therapy
Photo credit Eric Molina used under license

By respecting the opinions of your young adult, your therapist provides a safe space your your teen to think through options, and pathways including consequences and provides guidance for positive life choices and facilitates problem-solving techniques. One of the major benefits of your teen talking to a therapist is that the therapist is a neutral party and so the teen often can can and receive the same message from the therapist that they have resisted from a parent or other caregiver.

More specifically, adolescent therapy typically involves some history-taking, some conversation about identifying the problem, including when it started; some dialogue about what solutions have been tried before and their outcome; typically some equipping with new skills relevant to the area of concern. Other aspects and goals of therapy with adolescents may include:

  • Working towards adopting healthy coping strategies
  • Developing conflict management skills
  • Clarifying goals and desires
  • Improving communication
  • Encouraging self-care
  • Improving self-esteem

Common Concerns about Adolescent Therapy

“I think my teen needs help but I don’t want therapy to go on forever”

We get that. As much as we love your teen, we don’t want this to go on forever either. There is an old myth that therapy is weekly appointments for years. Current practices in therapy are generally much briefer and more focused on finding workable, sustainable solutions for the problem and equipping the person to get better at solved the inevitable problems themselves. Sure in occasional cases therapy continues for months, but that is the exception these days.

“I am afraid therapy will turn my kid against me”

The therapists at Russell and Associates are really good at just listening to the teen vent without judgment and without pushing a different point of view. That process of just listening usually has an amazing effect of reducing the push back from the teen. If the teen senses they don’t have to fight to put forward their opinion, frequently they become more open to another perspective. Then the therapist can explore with the teen an assortment of different perspective, choices and pathways including consideration of the consequences of the various pathways. We find that usually that brings more alignment than discord between the parents and the teen.

“Will I know what you are talking about in therapy?”

It is complicated. One of the really valuable things about your teen talking to a therapist is that it is a sf place where they can vent all the unprocessed thoughts and feelings going on inside knowing the therapist.  So preserving that safe space is important. At the same time, it is frequently helpful for the other members of the family to have some indication about what transpiring in therapy.

Each therapist at Russell and Associates will handle the details a little differently. Also, the age of the teen makes a difference here too. By all means when you make an appointment for your teen talk to your therapist about how and what information may get shared.

Would Your Teen Benefit From Adolescent Therapy?

Adolescent therapy
Photo credit Mark Harrington used under license

No matter resilient and strong your teen may be, and no matter how good and stable the home may be, your teen may benefit from adolescent therapy. There are pressures, conflicts and temptations that teens face today that may impact them that would make therapy a wise extra resource to help them do well through these years.  Here are some signs that your adolescent could benefit from therapy:

  • Anger & rage
  • Changes in school work
  • Concerns with drugs or alcohol
  • Cutting behavior & thoughts of suicide
  • Defiance & conduct problems
  • Difficulty focusing & staying on task
  • Encounters with the law
  • Failure to enjoy activities that were once pleasurable
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Interpersonal conflicts at home & school
  • Low energy & enthusiasm
  • Mood swings
  • Periods of isolation
  • Self consciousness
  • Tearfulness
  • Weight loss or gain

At our Winnipeg office Shanna Kelly, Kevin Beauchamp, Alana Buller and Lynette Sacco love teens. In Steinbach Megan Funk loves teens. Call or contact us today.

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