Does my teen really need therapy?

That depends. We can talk by phone before the first session to determine if therapy is the best course of action. Warning signs include: irritability, anger, mood swings beyond normal teenage behavior, sadness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, desire to hurt others, isolation, change in social support, and drop in grades. If your teen is asking to talk to someone, therapy is usually indicated, even if just for a few sessions. If there is any suspicion of abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual), therapy is definitely indicated.

How does this whole process work?

Bringing your teenager to therapy or even considering it is often very scary, both for you as a parent and for your teenager. During the first session, we usually meet together at first so I can get a sense of the issues and your concerns both from you, as parents, and also from your teen. I will spend some time alone with your teen so we can start building a relationship. I want both you and your teen to feel comfortable with me, and I want to create a safe space. We usually meet weekly after the first session, and depending on your unique situation, you, as parents, may or may not be present in the sessions. For the most part, I try to continue to build a trusting relationship with your teen.

What about confidentiality?

Are you going to tell us what our teen tells you in session?
Your teen is entitled to their own confidentiality, with a few exceptions. As a mandated reporter, I must report incidents of child abuse or neglect. Also, if your teen is threatening self-harm or harming someone else, I have to take the necessary precautions to keep your teen or that other person safe. That will naturally include informing you, as parents. Also, if your teen informs me about risky behavior he/she is involved in, then my goal is to help your teen tell you.

What about medication?

I know parents and teens often have very strong feelings regarding medication. Because of this, I let you take the lead. Medication can be helpful in certain situations, especially with severe depression and anxiety. I recommend consulting with a psychiatrist who is trained to work with adolescents instead of just your teen’s pediatrician. Medication is always best in conjunction with therapy.

My training has always been devoted to depth psychology. I have been trained to utilize psychodynamic and object relations theory. I also utilize cognitive behavioral techniques from time to time when working with children.

How can we, as parents, help the process?

You are helping more than you know just by allowing your teen to come to therapy. I welcome your feedback and am more than happy to address your concerns. If there is something that you can change or do differently as your teen’s parent, I will help you implement this. Be patient and give your teen space. Their process is often different than yours.

How long does therapy take?

Therapy takes time and is an investment in your teen’s future. I realize finances and time are often very limited, as teens are busier than ever. I try to be respectful of this, but often the problems you and your teen are facing did not happen overnight. It can take time to undo negative behavior patterns and help your teen be their authentic self. Therapy can last months to years depending on the situation.

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