A Few Things We Want You to Know Before Starting Teen Counseling
Teens face struggles as real and important as adults’. They face family conflict, romantic struggles, isolation from peers, feeling unknown by peers, questions and explorations around sex, the role of risk and excitement-seeking in social relationship and emotional life, struggles to find meaning and motivation in work and school achievement, loss and grief, medical concerns, declaring an identity separate from the role in the family of origin. You can see the parallels between adult and teen challenges.
And, of course, teens encounter clinically significant anxiety and depression.
We want parents to know teens respond to counseling as much as adults do when there is a good fit between the adolescent and the counselor. One key to bolstering motivation for growth and change is for the teen to gain an explicit understanding of how they habitually view themselves, others, and their world around them. Discovering and articulating these increases awareness and energy for change, and helps teens understand the origin of their distress. It also frees them to anticipate their particular stress reaction and make smarter, more fulfilling choices for themselves. The resulting change probably will be different from the change you have in mind for your teenager. They find their own solutions. The adolescent developmental task of individuation and the cultural/generational gap almost guarantees they will do it differently.
Don’t turn away in fear! The good news is teens still want to turn toward parents for support and guidance. They don’t always know how or feel confident turning toward you but faced with very large stresses, teens still report they will turn to parents first. While we cannot force our teens toward the solution we prefer for them, we can have a large impact by partnering with them while still holding appropriate limits.
When appropriate to have the adolescent and parent working together in the counseling process, counselors help parents speak up in new ways the teen can appreciate and respect. The parents’ voice becomes much more powerful when speaking openly and vulnerablyy with our adolescent daughters and sons. This results in an opportunity for the teen to practice listening deeply and to receive the respect and care parents’ are often trying, but falling short, to offer.
Our counselors who work with teens chose it as a professional focus because of a discovered passion born of a combination of factors, different for each.
For some, it was a work history in high schools or camps where teens’ rapid growth, courage, and cultural trendsetting served for passionate work. Supporting teens during their window of tremendous developmental growth is very gratifying. Counseling them keeps us current with youth culture and allows us to exercise a youthfulness in ourselves while respecting the emerging adult in the client.
For some of our teen counselors, passion was sparked by our own adolescent developmental struggle. A teacher, coach, minister, or counselor made all the difference. Transformative self-discovery and skill-building were freeing. Being known, accepted, and trusted gave a relational space where life started to make sense again. A church community or team, where our contribution was essential and made a difference to others, made all the difference in self-esteem.
Regardless of the origin of the counselor’s interest, your teen will be honored and respected at Family Psychology of South Bend. Your teen has an important voice that will be brought out in the service of solutions. We use our counseling expertise to leverage motivation and growth toward your teen’s goals, but your teen is the expert on themselves.
A combination of individual and family counseling is often helpful. We give the teen a space for private counseling and a space to dialogue with parents. Even in today’s culture, parents’ have a huge impact on their teens and teens still desire their parents’ support in their life’s biggest challenges.
We are flexible and dedicated and will enjoy and respect your teen.