Counseling, also referred to as therapy, is a therapeutic method used to resolve problematic behaviors, thought patterns, and feelings. It is also used to overcome relationship issues, histories of trauma, substance use, behavioral and mental health struggles. While anyone can benefit from counseling services, youth are increasingly in need of this level of support.
In recent years, the number of teenagers struggling with mental health issues has escalated. More and more youth are experiencing problems with anxiety, depression, stress, and thoughts of suicide. According to a recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General, an estimated 1 in 4 youth experienced depressive symptoms during the pandemic, while 1 in 5 youth experienced issues with anxiety. With a rise in these conditions, as well as ADHD diagnoses and suicide attempts among teens, the advisory declared: We are in the midst of a mental health crisis among youth.
If your teenager is showing signs of troubling behavior, it’s important to take action. Teenagers do not always know when or how to ask for help, especially from their parents. However, many teens are struggling silently. As a parent, it is up to you to intervene and seek the proper help.
For some, this is where counseling can come into play.
Counseling is an invaluable resource for troubled teenagers who may be struggling with their mental health, with life changes, or with other potential stressors like peer pressure. This is common for maturing youth. Through ongoing therapy, teenagers can learn how to cope with difficult feelings, strengthen life skills, regulate their emotions, build self-confidence, and establish a sense-of-self.
Why Do Teenagers Need Counseling?
Adolescence is a critical period for development and change. It is during these years that teens begin to transition into adulthood and start to establish more independence in their lives. At the same time, their bodies and brains are going through significant changes as they grow and mature. With this comes some challenges (for teens, as well as their parents).
Intrinsically, teenagers are emotional and moody as their bodies mature. As they develop more independence, teenagers also become increasingly rebellious and impulsive. All the while, teens are trying to process life, establish identities, and better understand themselves. This, in turn, leads many teenagers to experience waves of anxiety, sadness, low self-esteem, anger, or pain.
For this reason, counseling can be beneficial to help young people cope with the dynamic transitions happening physically, mentally, and emotionally.
While all teens can benefit from counseling, some teenagers experience more severe or troubling issues that require professional support. Below are some of the common challenges that troubled teens face, all of which can be alleviated, managed, or overcome through therapy:
- Peer pressure
- Academic pressure
- Loss of motivation or interest in school
- Bullying (in school or online)
- Life changes (such as moving, divorce, preparing for college)
- Gender identity
- Learning difficulties
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Social anxiety
- Body image issues
- Behavioral issues
- Acting out of control
As a parent, it’s important to recognize that there is a fine line between what is “normal” for teenagers, and which behaviors might be more troubling. You may be asking: What defines normal teen behaviors, versus problematic ones? What characterizes normal mood swings in adolescence, versus concerning mental health symptoms? Keep reading to find out.
Signs Your Teen May Benefit from Counseling
There are a range of signs that can indicate your teenager is struggling mentally or emotionally. If your teenager is showing any of the below signs, you may consider professional counseling as a next step:
- Extreme mood swings
- Sudden changes in friend groups
- Loss of interest in once-loved activities
- Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- Issues with body image and self-confidence
- Drop in academic performance or skipping school
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Changes in appetite and/or weight loss
- Increased anger, aggression, and violent behaviors
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
- Drug and alcohol use
- Trouble with the law
- Constant breaking of the rules
- Excessive risk-taking behaviors, such as driving under the influence
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Excessive stress, worry, and/or fear
You can learn more about the warning signs of troubled teens here.
The Advantages of Counseling for Troubled Teenagers
Counseling can help teenagers work through difficult feelings such as depression, grief, anxiety, anger, and low self-esteem. These feelings are not uncommon during adolescence, but should never be ignored. If your teenager is exhibiting frequent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, worry, anger, or self-loathing, it can indicate a larger problem that counseling can help to solve.
Counseling can also be an essential tool in helping teenagers who are coping with abuse, trauma, bullying, peer pressure, family issues, and school-related problems. Many young people do not yet have the skills they need to healthily cope with difficult situations, and can benefit from the guidance or support of a professional counselor.
Teenagers struggling with mental health conditions can also benefit from counseling and therapy. Whether your teen is struggling with anxiety or ADHD, an eating disorder or depression, a counselor can step in to help. Counselors can help teens understand their feelings, manage their conditions, identify and handle triggers, and further develop strategies to live a healthy, happy, and productive life.
What Happens in Teen Counseling?
In a counseling session, teenagers meet with a licensed therapist to talk about their problems and find resolutions to improve their well-being. After a teen discusses their struggles or concerns, the therapist may teach them healthy ways to cope with difficult feelings, face their fears, and overcome negative emotions. Therapists may also teach teens new skills to apply in day-to-day life.
The goal of counseling is to help teenagers resolve the problematic feelings, attitudes, and situations that they find most troubling. Further, the goal is to help teenagers become their best possible selves. Therapy helps teenagers find their strengths, build their confidence, and develop a greater sense of self-understanding and self-love. Through therapy, teens can learn how capable, how beautiful, how strong, and how resilient they really are.
Parents can also play a role in their teen’s counseling experiences. Some programs, such as the adolescent treatment programs at Turnbridge, prioritize family therapy for our younger clients. Family therapy helps to connect parents and their teens, restore familial relationships, encourage healing, and find ways to work through recovery together.
Get Help for Your Troubled Teen
If you believe you have a troubled or out-of-control teenager, and do not know where to turn for help, you can always contact Turnbridge for guidance. Turnbridge is a treatment provider for adolescents and young adults facing mental health disorders, substance use disorders, and co-occurring conditions. We offer high-quality, whole-person counseling services, as well as residential treatment programs, that all aim to restore teenagers’ well-being and to help them grow into their best possible selves.
Learn more about our programs here. Or, for immediate support, call 877-581-1793.