Are you worried about your teen and looking for some help?
Its normal for teenagers to struggle with some difficulties around their identity, anxiety, and self esteem. But when does it become a problem and how do you know if they need help? Chances are good that you’re on this page because something has been going on that has you concerned about your child. Are they seeming depressed or overly anxious? Has something difficult happened recently and you’re worried about how they’re handling it? Have they been cutting or voicing suicidal thoughts? Has your child suddenly become quiet, reserved, or irritable? Are they struggling with their sexuality or gender identity? Are they freaking out about growing up and/or what is going to happen to them after high school or some other major life transition? These are all things that can be cause for concern.
Teen counseling can help!
Life can be confusing and weird! Sometimes things come up that make teenagers feel confused, depressed, anxious, afraid, rejected, or isolated. When struggling in life, many teens turn inwards rather than reaching out for help. Sometimes issues come up that they might not feel comfortable talking with a parent about. Teen counseling helps by giving kids a safe, non-judgmental environment to talk about what is going on in their lives. In counseling I help teens open up about what is truly bothering them, work through their emotions, and come up with some healthy coping skills to get them through hard times and continue on their path to growing into a healthy adult.
Lots of parents struggle with being unsure about their teenager needing counseling.
It can be hard to tell if your child is going something that needs the support of a counselor. I sometimes get parents who are worried about their child and want to schedule a session just to see if counseling is a good fit. If teen counseling is helpful to your child you should know within the first session or two. In general I would say that if you’re here, you’re worried about something, and you should probably trust your gut. We all want the best for our children, and as a parent, it is hard to see them struggle.
What if my teen is resistant to counseling?
Sometimes teens are resistant to the idea of counseling. They think of all the media depictions they have seen of therapists and imagine that coming to see me will amount to them talking with a stiff, rigid, adult authority figure who is going to force them to talk about their emotions. Usually I tell parents to explore their children’s expectations of therapy with them and tell them that this is basically a place for them to talk about anything they want and to get some support. I’m not going to force them to talk about anything they don’t want to, and generally the first session or two is mostly us getting to know each other. Knowing this can make it feel a lot less scary.
What if my teen doesn’t want to talk?
If your child doesn’t want to talk or is being kind of reclusive I would reiterate what they can expect from therapy and encourage them to give it a try with one or 2 sessions. I can honestly say that I’ve never worked with a teen that didn’t open up to me within the first or second session. Part of what makes me a good teen counselor is that I’m a relatively casual, friendly, open guy. Sometimes to get the ball rolling with reluctant teens I’ll talk with them about things like anime and video games, which I have a history of being into….mostly before I had a kid of my own :-p
What if my child is in danger?
In counseling with teenagers confidentiality stands just like it would with any of my adult clients. However, I tell all of my teens that if anything comes up that puts them in danger in the immediate or foreseeable future, we will have to get the parent(s) involved. This includes any serious thoughts of suicide, getting involved in activities involving weapons, and intent to physically harm someone. One of the biggest concerns parents have is how they will know if their child is in danger of suicide. Its relatively normal for people to have thoughts of suicide during difficult times. But coming up with plans and having actual intent is different. If in the course of therapy your child expresses suicidal intent, plans, or thoughts that suggest they might be in danger of suicide, I will bring this to your attention so that we can work together to keep them safe.
How I can help
I have been working with teens in therapy for over 9 years, and I would generally say that about 30% of my clients have been teenagers. I think I partially work well with teens because I went through a little bit of everything myself as a teen and can really relate to what they’re going through. A lot of teens expect therapists to be stiff, out of touch, authority figures. Another part of what makes me good with teens is that I am very open, genuine, and caring. I can empathize with teens and often share some of my own life experiences when I think it could help them. The most healing factor of any therapy (especially with teens) is the relationship between the therapist and the client. I’m a really personable, open, friendly guy. Because of this, you can expect that your child will know within a session or two if therapy with me is a good fit for them.
Give me a call or email sometime
If your teen is struggling and any of what you’ve read on this page has resonated with your experience, give me a call sometime for a free brief phone consultation and we can talk about what is going on and how I might be able to help.
Joe Borders, MFT
Teen Counseling in Roseville and Sacramento
1722 Professional Drive,
Sacramento, CA 95825
775 Sunrise Ave., suite 110
Roseville, Ca 95661