People of all ages can benefit from some kind of professional assistance like therapy, from children and teens to adults at different stages in life. When it comes to teenagers and therapy, the sessions can be valuable in helping them deal with challenges they face and develop a better sense of their own needs and desires. For more serious issues,
treatment centers may be the key to success. However, some teenagers may be resistant to therapy or may want it but be anxious about what it might entail.
Effectively preparing your teen for treatment of mental health, substance abuse and behavioral problems will go a long way into alleviating their fears and boosting their self confidence about what to expect.
Do Teens Need Therapy or Rehab?
There are many reasons why a teenager may need to speak regularly with a therapist–school stress, bullying, peer pressure, family issues, abuse, death of a family member, adoption or abandonment issues and more. Mental health issues could also create challenges with teenagers that can be handled more easily with therapy, such as ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, bipolar, eating disorders, and more.
If a teenager is acting differently than before, and it seems to be more than just normal adolescent behavior, therapy may be the best way to get to the root of the problem. Signs that a teen may need professional help include sleeplessness, mood swings, loss of appetite, a new group of friends, loss of interest in favorite activities, withdrawing from family, poor grades and skipping school. It’s never too late for parents to get their teenager into some form of therapy to ensure that no serious problems will develop.
Here are some of the more serious signs that indicate a teenager definitely needs to visit a professional therapist, individually or in a treatment center:
Constant headaches, stomachaches and more
Crime, like stealing or vandalism
Drug or alcohol abuse
A good therapist or rehab center will be able to work with teens to get to the root of the issues that may be causing bad behavior and giving them a chance to overcome their challenges, fix their behavior and learn coping skills to help them in the future.
Finding a Good Therapist or Treatment Center
Finding a qualified therapist with experience in adolescent issues isn’t hard–the hard part is finding the right one for the teenager. Parents should look for therapists that have dealt with issues their teenagers are facing, and one who makes the teen feel comfortable. Sometimes, a facility may be the best solution, like a therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment center.
Parents can ask the teen’s doctor, school counselor or other health professional for references, and family members with experience in similar issues may also be a good resource. Parents should arrange for a visit with the therapist before taking their teenager for the first time to make sure they are on the same page to begin sessions. For a facility treatment, parents should do research to find the best and most appropriate one. Parents should not be afraid to change to a different therapist or program if their current one doesn’t seem to be a good fit with their teen.
Preparing Teens for Therapy or Rehab
Even introducing the idea of therapy or rehab to a teen can start everything from a panic attack to a verbal assault. While teens may recognize that they need some kind of help, therapy or rehab has a certain negative stigma attached to it. It’s sometimes difficult for teens to even acknowledge that they need help.
Here are 5 things parents can do to introduce the idea of therapy or rehab to teens:
Bring it up in a calm discussion. Avoid the topic during or just after an argument, and choose a time when the teen is not too stressed out.
Present the problem. Parents can relate some of the things they’ve observed in the teen’s behavior and why it causes them concern. Avoid using accusing words and tone, and instead present the problems and how they affect the teen and others.
Suggest that the teen is not alone in those kinds of struggles and that many people have them. Also, point out that doctors and therapists have marvelous methods for helping people who struggle with such problems.
Bring up therapy as a solution to those problems, and relay how common therapy is and how successful it can be. Family members who are getting therapy may be willing to have conversations at a later date with the teen.
Give the teen a chance to express themselves and ask any questions or share concerns. Avoid any judgment and answer honestly, even with “I don’t know” if needed. Hold several conversations over the course of a few weeks, because teens may initially be resistant but warm up to the idea after a while.
No matter what challenges they face and how old they are, teenagers can benefit from therapy for a number of issues like mental health, emotional or behavioral challenges, substance abuse and more. Parents need to be willing to take the hard decision to get their teenagers the professional help they need before the problems get worse.