Are You Worried About Your Teen?

DENISE A_Teens_SummerDoes your teen seem withdrawn or on edge? Do you often argue with him or her about getting out of bed in the morning or getting home by curfew? Do you receive calls from school about behavior problems involving your teen? Do you worry that your teen is socializing too often or too little? Perhaps you want to reach out to your child, but don’t know how to relate. Or, perhaps your teen has fallen behind academically, and you’re worried that there might be a larger issue at play, like depression, anxiety, ADHD, ADD, substance abuse or self-harming behavior. Do you wish you could form a closer relationship with your teen and provide him or her with insight, guidance and support?

Watching your teen suffer can be a troubling, frustrating and even frightening experience, especially if he or she has begun abusing substances or engaging in self-harming behavior. Attending to your child’s needs can be confusing, too. You want him or her to excel in school, sports, a job and future endeavors, but when you approach your child, he or she is unresponsive, or your discussions escalate into arguments that don’t seem to resolve. You want to support your child however you can, but you may struggle to know how to, especially as he or she becomes more impulsive, introverted, defiant or distracted.

Teen Distress Is Becoming More Common

If your teen is struggling, he or she is not alone. Developmentally, your child is right between childhood and adulthood. Your teen may seesaw between wanting to be taken care of and wanting to think and act like an adult. This divide often causes challenges for teens, such as grappling with who they are and where they fit in. Now, with the influence of social media, there are countless opportunities for teens to compare themselves to others. When they feel as if they’re not performing as well as their peers, they may believe there is a fundamental flaw within themselves, which can perpetuate a cycle of negative thinking that fuels low self-esteem.

Although some amount of stress is normal and can be productive, if your teen is showing noticeable shifts in behavior or suffering from low self-esteem or depression, getting help may be vital to his or her mental, emotional and physical health. However, help and hope are available. With the guidance of an experienced teen counselor, you and your teen can better understand what your teen is going through and develop the skills needed to foster a strong, healthy and loving relationship.

Teen Counseling Can Help Your Teen Establish Healthy Habits

DENISE A_Teens_SpringBikeCounseling for teens offers a safe space for your child to openly express his or her innermost concerns and provides the tips and techniques needed to effectively mitigate depressive thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.

During sessions with me, your teen can feel secure and supported as we explore the triggers, thought patterns, emotions and beliefs that are keeping him or her anxious, unhappy or stuck. Therapy can help your teen better understand the connection between their thoughts and actions. Many teens believe there is a direct correlation between a particular event and their mood. For example, if your child’s friend acted in an unkind way, it may cause your child to feel down. However, with the guidance of an experienced teen counselor, your teen can thoughtfully work through his or her thoughts and perspective surrounding the event (and not the event itself) and understand what is really impacting his or her mood and behavior. This process can help increase self-awareness and give your teen the tools to effectively navigate challenges. We can also evaluate how certain emotions and beliefs keep your teen stuck and practice ways to improve perspective about what’s possible moving forward.

I am a strength-based therapist, and I will devise a treatment plan that supports your child’s unique personality, needs and goals. With guidance and a strong support system, we can collaboratively make positive changes that can enhance your teen’s overall mental, emotional and physical health—both short and long-term. Even small, manageable changes can go a long way in improving the bond within your family. I have over 30 years of experience helping teens navigate problems. I know from experience that in a safe, compassionate and empathic therapy environment, your teen can open up and learn how to develop and foster strong, healthy relationships with you, his or her community and within his or herself.

You still may have questions or concerns about teen therapy…

denise-a_teensspring-flowers-tulipsMy son or daughter does not want to go to therapy.

It’s common for teenagers to object to therapy. Many believe seeking out help is a sign of weakness. But, that isn’t the case. When a light on the dashboard in your automobile comes on, you don’t ignore it. You identify the issue from the driver’s manual and contact a qualified service technician to fix the problem. When something is wrong, seeking help is a wise and often crucial step.

Many teens also worry about confidentiality. It’s important to know that as a therapist I am bound by law to maintain confidentiality in the therapeutic relationship. Therapy sessions with your teen and their records are kept confidential with very few exceptions. These exceptions are incredibly rare. If you have further questions about this, I invite you to call me.

If you are seriously concerned about your teen, I highly recommend that you encourage your son or daughter to at least try teen counseling. The symptoms of severe anxiety and depression often don’t go away on their own, and may even worsen over time. While it’s your responsibility to encourage your teen to try counseling, once your teen is in my practice, it’s my job to engage your child in the therapy process and address his or her emotions, thoughts, behaviors and life experiences. Teens often find that talking to a therapist is a lot different than talking to a friend, parent or teacher; and in most cases, they report feeling at ease and empowered to identify and resolve things that have been bothering them. Therapy also allows teens the opportunity to learn healthy coping strategies, rather than bad ones they may continue to use during their adult lives if they don’t get help now.

I am worried about the cost.

I encourage you to think of teen therapy as investing in your child’s wellbeing and your relationship with him or her. If your teen is prone to depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD or has been suffering for a long time, the issues are unlikely to go away on their own and may even worsen. Ongoing and persistently high levels of distress can impact mental, emotional and physical health, as well as your teen’s capacity for healthy academic and social development. Counseling for teens can provide your child with the skills he or she needs to navigate problems now and in the future. Although there is a cost involved in this work, it’s often not as expensive as people originally expect. If you are concerned about cost, please contact my office to further discuss your options.

I doubt counseling for troubled teens will help my child.

If you’ve been battling issues for a long time, you may be close to giving up, wondering if healing your child’s concerning behaviors is even possible. However, what your teen is going through now will not last forever. Your teen is still developing and can be reasoned with, and you don’t have to struggle through this alone. Together, we can devise a therapy plan that improves communication between you and your teen, decreases isolation and enables positive, lasting change.

The best way to ensure that your teen receives the help they need and deserve is in collaboration with you, your physician and the school counselor. Strong coordination and collaboration creates a community of caring for your teen and enables the best opportunity for healing.

Help Your Teen Heal

If you’re interested in teen counseling in Bettendorf, IA, please call (563) 213-5100 for a free 30-minute phone consultation. I am happy to discuss any questions you have about my practice or how therapy can address your teen’s needs.