Counseling for Teens

Raising teenagers can be a difficult prospect.  They’re not quite kids anymore and they have a lot to learn before they’re ready for independence.  This is a time of life where teenagers want to be trusted and viewed as adults. However, parents know from their experience that teenagers are not yet ready for that kind of independence.  

Teens often get in trouble with grades, school life, family life, and emotional wellbeing.  Sometimes they recognize this themselves and will ask you to set up counseling.  I see this often with kids who experience anxiety or depression.  Other times, you have to make the decision that your kids need counseling, whether they like it or not.

How Solution Focused Counseling Helps Teens:

Solution Focused Counseling for teens works great because it works from the assumption that both you and your teen are doing more things right than wrong.  I like to ask questions to hear about what things your teen is doing well that they should keep doing.  

Although counseling is about changing negative behavior and thinking, it helps teens to hear about the things they’re doing right. This starts us off on the right foot by letting them know counseling isn’t going to be all about “fixing” their problem behavior. It will also be about exploring those times when they make good decisions so they can do it more often. This also builds their confidence. I also like to ask children what there parents are doing right so you have more confidence that your kids listen to you, learn from you, and appreciate you. Parents are often surprised to hear the things their teens appreciate about them as parents.

I provide counseling for teens to help them figure out what changes they want to make, and I involve the parents in this discussion.  Most teenagers value their parents input, but it helps to have a third party ask questions so the teens can hear the your wishes and suggestions without it being taken as a “lecture” by the teenager.  

I also find most teenagers know what their parents would advise them, which means they take in what you have been telling them. But often pride and a need for being seen as capable of thinking for themselves prevents them from acknowledging this.

How Parents can Help:

Teenagers like to do things their own way and solve their problems without help. And they often have good ideas for how to solve their problems.  Most teenagers want the same things for themselves their parents want for them. However, they want to find their own way of getting there.  Counseling help them figure out what they need to do differently, and encouraging parents to be there as observers and safety nets.  Most teens tell me they sometimes want advice from parents but they want to figure things out themselves first, when possible.

Parents want better communication with their teenagers. They want their teen to talk to them and tell them what’s going on in their lives. Counseling involves helping you and your teenager negotiate this communication so you both get what you want.  Teenagers often want to keep the communication open as much as you do, but want control over how they provide information.

For other useful ideas on how to talk with teenagers, the Love and Logic Institute is a great resource. I often refer parents to this resource for parenting ideas.

Counseling for teenagers involves:
  1. Helping your teen figure out what they’re doing right so they can do more of  what works.
  2. Figuring out what changes they want to make in their  lives.
  3. Helping your teen understand what changes their parents hope to make in their lives and why.
  4. Helping your teen decide what small,  do-able steps they can start with to  start making changes without feeling overwhelmed.