Perhaps therapy for your child is something that you’ve considered off and on over the years, or maybe you’ve recently seen changes in your teen that have made you wonder if therapy is needed. You might be asking yourself if you should seek a therapist or not, and if you do, where do you start? Who do you choose? And what would others think?
More than 50% of U.S. adults will experience poor mental health in their lifetime. Furthermore, 40% of mental illness begins by age 14 and 75% by age 24. But therapy isn’t limited to only helping those who are mentally ill. The pandemic has a taken a toll on many teens’ mental health. According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at Michigan Medicine, 46% of parents indicate their teen’s mental health has declined since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Reasons Your Teen May Benefit from Therapy:
- COVID-Related Trauma – The abrupt and significant changes caused by COVID-19 have been difficult for many teens, and for some, even traumatic. As a result, some teens are having a hard time at adjusting to the new normal, including returning to school and reconnecting with their friends and peers.
- Behavioral Changes – Social withdrawal from friends or family, new sleeping or eating habits, drastic mood changes, and emotional outbursts may be signs that there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
- Depression – Everyone, including teens, have moments when they feel depressed. Issues such as peer pressure, academics, and fluctuating hormones can trigger many up and down emotions for teens. But for some teens, the low emotions and depressed feelings begin to dominate and don’t go away, which is a symptom of depression.
- Anxiety – While it’s normal for teens to worry occasionally, some teens experience extreme anxiety. An anxiety disorder can affect many different areas of a teen’s life, including friendships and academics. COVID-19 has caused many teens to have increased anxiety.
- Other Trauma – Traumatic events can have lifelong impacts. Early intervention can be the key to helping a teen recover from painful circumstances, such as bullying, sexual assault, the death of a family member or close friend, and divorce.
Other reasons include:
- Substance Abuse
- Severe stress
- School and social issues
- Low self-esteem
- Eating disorders
- No motivation
- Feelings of loneliness
- A need to talk about difficult topics to people other than friends or family
- Problems with negative thinking
- Thoughts of harming oneself or others
- Struggles with self-worth
- Sexuality, sexual orientation, or gender identity confusion or challenges
As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I tell parents to trust their instincts. If a parent has considered therapy for their child and is wondering if it could help, the answer is usually a “yes.” The longer you wait to seek help, the more severe or damaging your teen’s problems may become. Going to a therapist can help prevent minor issues from turning into major problems and help prevent an individual’s mental health from further declining.
Going to a therapist can provide your teen with benefits beyond having someone to talk to and who will listen nonjudgmentally. Therapists can help promote social emotional learning and teach strategies that a teen can use in many aspects of their life to help them more successfully handle difficult situations and address anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and more.
If you decide to move forward with seeking therapy for your teen, it’s important to find a therapist who has experience with working with adolescents. A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, such as myself, who is trained to work with teens, will be able to recommend the best approaches and strategies to help your teen.
Along with helping your teen with any issues that they may be experiencing, therapy can help build stronger family bonds, resolve conflict and establish healthy communication skills.