If you’re parenting a teenager you can have moments when you and your child feel really connected, and just minutes later you’re trying to get their attention but their head is already buried in their phone. Your teen seems like their old selves on one day, and the next day they’re sad, withdrawn, and angry. We all know that being a teenager is hard. So is parenting one.
It is hard to know if what you see in your teen is just a normal “phase” that will pass, or whether if you ignore the issue it will continue to get worse. Ultimately, you want to help your teen grow into being a happy, well-functioning adult. And, you want to give them the resources and guidance that your parents weren’t able to give you. The tricky part is, adolescents are naturally working on being more independent, and therefore, start the process of pulling away from their parents, from you. So, right when they need you the most, you might be the last person they will actually confide in. Or, even when they do confide in you, you might feel lost on how to help them with the complex feelings they are sorting through.
All of this “stuff” is happening while they’re also tasked with developing their sense of self, trying to do well in school to prepare for their future, and navigating social relationships both in real life and online. The different pressures teenagers are faced with can weigh heavily on teens, often contributing to feelings of depression and anxiety, and they’re trying to navigate all of this on their own!
Teen counseling gives your teen a safe, supportive space to talk about what they’re trying to figure out, and to have the help of a trusted adult as they try to figure it out. They have someone in their corner to support them as they work through what they confront on a day to day basis when they’re solo, away at school or online.
At Take Root Therapy, we know that while therapy and counseling can be great for teens, that it’s not unusual for them to have no interest in actually meeting with a therapist. Our therapists have years of experience working with teens and are skilled at connecting with even the most disinterested adolescent. We have worked in residential and intensive outpatient settings and have learned how to use different techniques to help teens feels safe and to help them get to the root of their struggles.
FAQs About Teen Counseling in Los Angeles
What is it? What does it entail? Why do it?
Teen counseling, or adolescent therapy/psychotherapy, is when a teenager meets with a trained therapist to help them figure out what is getting in the way of them feeling their best. At Take Root Therapy, we design therapy for our teenage clients based on what would most benefit them, and help them get the support that they need. Typically, we meet with our teenage clients on a weekly basis for 50-minute sessions. Depending on the needs of the individual teen client, we sometimes recommend 75-minute sessions, and for some, we recommend family therapy in conjunction with, or in place of, individual therapy.
At the beginning of the first session, we often meet with the parent(s) or caregiver(s) together with the teen, so we can learn about what brought them in for therapy, and so that our teenage clients can really hear their parent/caregiver’s concerns. After meeting with both teen and caregiver together, we meet with the teen individually, and we ask them what they want to get out of therapy. We have found that having a trusting relationship with their therapist is one of the primary predictors for successful teen counseling, and we begin developing this relationship on day one.
An important factor that we clarify for both the teen and their families is that whatever the teen shares in therapy is confidential. There are limits to this, such as if the teen is planning on harming themselves or someone else, or if a minor or elderly person is being abused, and these limits are named at the start of therapy. Ultimately, in order for our teenage clients to feel safe and to build an effective relationship with their therapist, it is important to establish trust, and we want everyone to be on the same page about this. Our therapists also clarify that if something is important and we believe it needs to be communicated to the family, that we will help our teens become empowered to communicate directly with their families themselves, and we will always let our teens know before anything is shared with their families.
What should we expect initially with teen counseling?
At the start of therapy with our teenage clients, we help the teen better understand themselves and their struggles. We want to know about their relationships and experiences, and how these things have informed the way that they approach their relationships and their worlds now. We work with our teens to develop a framework for understanding who they are and how they got here, and once we have this established, we work with our clients to understand the patterns they have developed.
What happens as teen counseling progresses?
With the help of their therapist, our teenage clients are able to better able to recognize how their experiences have shaped them, why they have made the choices they have made, and why they’ve developed the coping patterns that they currently have. Once those dots start connecting for our teen clients, our therapists help them develop more helpful coping skills. Given that they are making these decisions based on their newfound understandings, clients are able to consider these changes with compassion and intention. Our therapists then support our clients in creating the changes they want, so that they may approach their lives and be effective and empowered.
If your teenager is struggling and you aren’t sure how to help them, please reach out.
What kind of issues can teen counseling help with?
Teen counseling can help with everything from depression and anxiety to issues with peers and peer relationships. Our teens find that through therapy they are able to improve their sense of self and better navigate relationships with others. Some teens struggle and will engage in risky behaviors, including sexual behaviors, substance use, and self-injury. Therapy can provide these teens with safe coping skills to use when they are feeling overwhelmed. Therapy can also help with grief, be it due to the death of a loved one or the end of a cherished relationship.