The teenage years can be trying times for any young person and his or her family. Every teen faces the challenges of emerging independence, hormonal changes, school pressures, and the stress of planning for her future. In addition to these normal difficulties, many teens experience substance and behavioral addictions, bullying, suicidal thoughts and gestures, social anxiety, depression and an increased sense of isolation and disconnection. The increase in the use of social media has exacerbated many common teen issues. Not only is there a lack of awareness about the prevalence of teen mental illness, there is also a lack of treatment providers who specialize in working with this vulnerable population.
Authentic Recovery is helping to fill this gap. We offer counseling for teens in a safe, comfortable environment, where they can explore their troubles in unique and creative ways. Depending on the diagnosis and the teen’s personality, our specialized therapists will use a number of different approaches including art therapy, CBT, narrative therapy, and mindfulness, just to name a few.
There is a common misconception that adolescents and teens dislike therapy. Unfortunately, the treatment community has a tendency of labeling teens as resistant if they do not engage in treatment that is typically designed for adults. In our experience, teens are hesitant to participate in therapy for a few reasons. Below, we describe these reasons and how our approach is a bit different.
One, teens often feel like therapy is forced upon them and most teenagers do not like being told what to do. The counselors at Authentic Recovery realize that a teen might be very resistant to therapy simply because the teen is being told they have to participate. Therefore, we strive to make the experience as positive as possible by recognizing that we must talk to teens in a very different way. Being overly confrontational or clinical leaves a teen feeling like the counselor is just another adult telling them what to do. Instead, we focus on building a relationship of trust and figuring out ways for the teen to feel that the therapeutic experience is valuable. This means being more empathetic and supportive, and less critical and authoritarian.
Two, teens are resistant to therapy because they feel like they will be “forced” to talk about their feelings, which is often foreign and unappealing. Generally, teens do not possess the emotional vocabulary that adults have developed over time. Therefore, the idea of discussing their feelings and developing treatment goals feels almost silly. As counterintuitive as it sounds, therapy does not need to be all about feelings. When working with teens, we focus on what they need, on building rapport, and on using different strategies to discuss feelings and problems. The simple question, “how does that make you feel?” just doesn’t work with teens. But building a trusting relationship and creating a nonjudgmental environment allows the teen to discuss their issues using their language and methods. We meet teens where they are, rather than trying to force them into an adult way of communicating and processing.
Finally, teens are reluctant to engage in therapy because they feel like they have no choices. Typically, the parent, school, or justice system dictates whom the teen will participate in therapy with and for how long. Being underage, teens do not have a lot of decision-making power. From a therapeutic perspective, this leaves them feeling disempowered and encourages more resistance to the process. At Authentic Recovery, we aim to show our teenage clients that, while they do not have control over everything in their lives, the choice to accept help is theirs. This ability to accept help in a respectful environment is empowering and often allows teens to engage in the therapeutic process.
The first session will involve completing intake paperwork and meeting with the teen and parent/guardian. The most important part of this meeting is to ensure a trusting, engaging and authentic connection begins to form between the teen and therapist. Involving parents and other parts of the family can be an extremely important part of the teen’s therapy because a shift in the dynamics of the family system can be a crucial part of the healing and growth process. Following the first session, the teen, parent and therapist will collaboratively create a specific and solution focused treatment plan that includes evidence-based and effective treatment methods to help the teen meet his goals.
POTENTIAL TEEN THERAPY TOPICS:
- Coping with challenges of ADHD
- PTSD and other Trauma-related disorders
- Low self esteem
- Adjustment to major life changes
- Family Issues
- Emotional Regulation
- Planning for the Future
- Self Esteem
- Self Harm
- Sexual Orientation
- Social Anxiety
- Suicidal Thoughts
Possible Therapeutic Interventions: