For some teenagers, adolescence is a whirlwind of emotions. This can be an equally confusing time for parents who wonder what happened to their previously happy child. If your teenager is going through a difficult time, you may have questions about how best to help. But how do you know if your teen is experiencing typical teenage angst or a serious mental health concern? We’ll help you answer these questions and more.
Recognizing When Your Teen Needs Help – immediate action or teen therapy
It will not always be obvious if your teenager is struggling. However, there are a few key indicators that something deeper is going on. Three common signs include self-harm, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation.
If your teen is engaging in self-harm, such as cutting or burning their skin, this is a sign that there is emotional turmoil underneath the surface. It can be difficult to catch the carefully covered bruises, cuts, or cigarette burns that are often associated with self-harming behavior, but secondary signs can be helpful indicators as well. These signs include wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather to keep covered, withdrawing from others, and engaging in self-blaming.
Chronic substance abuse is another crucial sign to look for in your teen. Although experimentation with drugs and alcohol is common during adolescence, a serious problem could be emerging if you notice your teen consistently coming home drunk or high. It is important to address this issue quickly, especially since substance abuse is commonly associated with depression and other mental health concerns in teenagers.
Finally, if your teen has expressed feelings of hopelessness, wishing they weren’t here, or intentions to harm themselves, this is a clear indicator that you need to seek professional help right away. It is critical to take suicidal ideation seriously, rather than passing it off as your teen being dramatic. If you are concerned that your teenager is in immediate danger based on anything they have said or done, do not hesitate to take your teen to the hospital or call 911. When it comes to threats of suicide, there is no time to waste.
Common Therapy Options for Teenagers
Thankfully, your teenager does not have to suffer alone. There are several helpful teen therapy options to consider, each with its own benefits. These options can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies. Here is a breakdown of the most common therapy options recommended for teenagers.
Individual Therapy: As one of the most popular therapy types, individual counseling will help your teen explore their feelings and overcome their struggles. During individual therapy, your teen will be able to discover their strengths through the help of a supportive and non-judgmental therapist. The therapist will work with your teen to help them understand the emotions and challenges that they are facing and develop appropriate skills to respond to those struggles. If your teen is facing depression, anxiety, stress, or other concerns and needs a safe space to explore their struggles, individual therapy can be an amazing resource.
Group Therapy: This is an excellent option for teens who experience anxiety while engaging in social situations at school. Therapy groups provide a safe space for the therapist to observe social anxiety in action but in a controlled environment. This allows the therapist to address behaviors that typically do not present themselves during an individual therapy session. If your teenager is experiencing social isolation, extreme shyness, bullying, rejection, or anger management concerns, group therapy can be an invaluable tool to help them gain skills to reduce social insecurity and improve peer relationships.
Family Therapy: This type of therapy can be immensely beneficial if your teen is facing issues related to relationships within the family unit. Family therapy creates a safe space to restore family relationships, rebuild a healthy family system, and learn to support one another. If conflict within your family has led to a strained relationship with your teen, family therapy can help improve communication, establish healthy boundaries, and allow your teen to explore their role within the family system. If your family has faced trauma, financial difficulties, the death of a relative, frequent moves, or other difficulties, family therapy can be an excellent way to explore those challenges together with your teen.
Connect with Us
The therapists at LifeStance Health are equipped to work with a number of adolescent mental health concern including:
- Substance abuse
- Peer relationships
- And more
We offer a variety of options for adolescents including counseling and social skills groups. Our clinicians are dedicated to helping teenagers move forward by addressing their concerns and creating measurable goals together. If you are ready to learn more about the available adolescent therapy options, don’t hesitate to contact us to find the best fit for your teen.