Counseling and Therapy for Teens

Understanding the Different Types of Therapy
When considering therapy, it is essential to understand the different types and their characteristic in order to find the best fit for your teenager. Therapy sessions consist of collaborating with a licensed and trained professional, the content of each session can vary based on several factors such as the type of therapy, and the therapist themself; oftentimes they have their own methods they use, Though there are numerous different types of therapy, the major ones are

  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) – is often noticed for having a structured approach in which you work on correlating your recurring thoughts and feelings to learned behaviors. It mainly focuses on the present; identifying repeated thoughts that can result in negative feelings and rectifying/rationalizing those same feelings. It is often used for mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance use disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and more.
  • DBT (Dialectical behavioral therapy) – Differing from CBT, it primarily focuses on recognizing and acknowledging their feelings, and finding coping mechanisms that help the individual attending lower their amount of stress. DBT was originally only developed to treat borderline personality disorder but later expanded to treat other conditions such as binge eating disorders, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. In terms of what to expect, there is typically one session a week along with their therapist being available by message.
  • Prolonged Exposure therapy – Similar to CBT, it involves systematically approaching and exposing yourself to things that you have been avoiding or causing them anxiety. It is typically used for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and extreme phobias. Oftentimes this includes revisiting certain fears or traumas and incessantly increasing their exposure to those memories/fears until they gain tolerance toward them.

Recognizing the Signs 
It is critical to recognize the warning signs that a teenager may need therapy, a few of these signs include, withdrawal from social events/interactions, sudden shifts in mood, irritability changes in their eating routines, a significant decline in their academic performance, and a lack of sleep. These factors can signal they are emotionally distressed. Another factor that is largely disregarded but should be looked out for is if they are going through a significant life change or the loss of a loved one, both events can cause them to feel intense emotions they may struggle to manage. By being able to acknowledge and identify these signs and situations and acting accordingly, you can provide them with the necessary help and support.

Accessing Therapy for Teens
It is important to understand and evaluate the several options your teenagers have to find the best fit for them. One of the most common options is school-based therapy in which there are onsite mental health professionals who help students cope with their feelings the same way a therapist would, though it is not a long-term arrangement it can help immediate emotional support and help them learn important coping mechanisms. Students or parents can initiate and advocate their need for help by reaching out to either the school’s main counseling department or a teacher who can redirect them. Another option includes discussing with a private therapist whom your child has been referred to by a healthcare provider or found online. Factors that are commonly taken into consideration when finding a therapist can include insurance coverage, personal preferences, the type of therapy they need, which one was recommended to them, whether they prefer in-person meetings or online, and their schedules. Another option that they could prefer is teletherapy or other online platforms in which they can easily access professional help when necessary; though in comparison to the other two options is not viable long-term, it can be beneficial.

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