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The Benefits of Psychotherapy for Teens

Teens can be very resistant to the idea of therapy. This is especially true if they are used to adults telling them what to do and not giving them the opportunity to exercise their own autonomy, creativity, and agency. There’s an image that teens might experience when they are approached with the idea of therapy: being interrogated by a therapist about what’s going well and not so well in their life.

Of course, this is not what therapy is for teens. Instead, there’s a solid and mutually respectful therapeutic relationship that builds, and this relationship is the foundation for a teen to learn to trust, open up, take risks, and grow. In fact, this therapist-teen relationship is the central transformative agent.

With this, therapy can be enormously beneficial for an adolescent, especially one who is struggling with mental health, academic, or other life challenges. For instance, psychotherapy for teens can:

Facilitate your teen’s maturity, independence, and autonomy. Teens are caught in between childhood and adulthood. Although they will begin to pull away from their parents, in many ways, they will also cling to them. This is more often the case with teens who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. A therapist can help a teen identify behaviors, thoughts, and emotions that keep them stuck in the past, and facilitate their journey into the future. A therapist can help highlight a teen’s strengths so that those strengths become a prominent force in his or her life.

Provide your child with coping mechanisms. Being a teenager is stressful. They are undergoing a number of changes, and those changes are major ones. Add to this that adolescence is often a stage in which any unresolved trauma resurfaces. On top of all this, a teen may not know appropriate and healthy ways to manage intense feelings such as anxiety, fear, sadness, shame, or anger. A therapist can provide specific ways to manage emotions and stressful circumstances.

Help a teenager manage his or her moods. If your child has been diagnosed with Depression, Bipolar Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, or other mood disorders, a therapist can work with your child on specific mood managing techniques where medication might fall short.

Be the venue for explaining the importance of medication.When a teen is diagnosed with a disorder, occasionally, he or she may be prescribed medication to help manage symptoms of the mental illness. Like therapy, having to take medication also comes with a stigma, and for this reason, teens can be very resistant to the idea. However, a therapist can help make clear why medication or other forms of treatment are necessary as well as provide explanation of your child’s diagnosis. A therapist can assist in outlining the benefits of treatment and facilitate an ongoing open dialogue about these topics. Furthermore, research indicates that the combination of both medication and therapy yields the best results for certain disorders, such as depression.With therapy along with the right medication, a teen’s mood can stabilize and he or she can return to a healthy level of functioning at school, home, and work. When therapy is combined with medication, there is a greater chance of arriving at and maintaining mental health.

Of course, therapy can also be a strong source of support for your teen, even if he or she is not suffering from a mental illness. When circumstances at home or school get difficult, having a therapist for your teen to talk to can facilitate resilience and strength to face the challenges in his or her life. 

 

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Chris Massman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Chris' training includes Family Systems Theory along with numerous other theories. She believes therapy is an art and chooses the theory she feels will most benefit the individual sitting in front of her. Her specialty lies is in the field of Chemical Dependency and Addictions. Chris is currently seeing individuals, couples and families. Chris is a Clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as well as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Chris has two locations including Tarzana and Agoura Hills, CA.