Counseling For Teens
Teens Experience Unique And Disruptive Mental Health Symptoms
The process of growing up can be complicated. As your teenage child figures out their identity, they are also determining where they fit in, what they like and don’t like, and who is supportive in their life. Communicating needs, goals, and boundaries can be difficult, especially at an age when they are still developing emotional skills and a sense of who they are—and who they want to be.
Counseling for teens can help your child experience the support of an objective, experienced therapist who will guide them in developing lifelong strategies for coping and stress management. The sooner we get started, the more it will pay off in the long run. Your teen’s confidence and self-esteem will likely improve as they enhance their relationships with themselves and others.
What Is Your Child’s Experience?
Just like adults, teens can experience mental health hurdles that greatly impact their quality of life. Trauma can occur at any age. And symptoms of anxiety and depression are common, as are identity-specific issues surrounding race, gender, and sexuality. Oftentimes, parents start looking for help when their teen begins displaying issues with social setbacks, academic performance, and interpersonal conflict (whether between peers at school or family members at home).
If your teen experiences low self-confidence and low self-worth, they may have developed other symptoms, including:
Lack of energy or motivation
Self-harm or other unhealthy coping behaviors
Disconnection from peers, family members, or a supportive adult
Isolation and social withdrawal
Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
Academic setbacks and difficulty concentrating
Chronic stress and pressure from increased responsibilities
Whether or not ADHD and learning disabilities are at play, mental health is deeply intertwined with performance, interpersonal relationships, and self-esteem.
Your child is at a time in life when they simply seek to be understood and accepted as they are. In counseling at Bay Area Mental Health, your teen will be paired with an experienced therapist who will help them feel both confident and supported.
Pressure Comes From All Angles During The Teenage Years
Though genetic factors might play a role in the development of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues and cultural or societal factors also have a massive impact on teens' self-esteem. There is pressure from every angle to perform, achieve, and be successful. Generational and systemic trauma may also contribute to poor mental health, especially for teens of color and other marginalized identities.
But social media is perhaps the biggest influence on teens’ self-perception across the board. Social media breeds comparison culture and promotes a competitive mindset that often results in peer pressure and bullying. Not to mention, there is so much information available on the internet that it’s often hard to figure out what is positive, true, and useful. Self-image can easily become skewed, leading to anxieties about academic or athletic performance, body image, and fitting in. Without effective coping skills, outlets like self-harm, substance use, promiscuity, and aggression toward others become the go-to strategy for dealing with emotional pain.
If your teen struggles with their mental health, it's important to seek the guidance of a trusted, supportive adult. In therapy for teens through Bay Area Mental Health, your child has a chance to feel meaningfully seen, heard, understood, and accepted, no matter their challenges
Counseling For Teens At Bay Area Mental Health
Teens often feel judged, shamed by, or afraid to disappoint the adults in their lives. Even if parents, teachers, and coaches are well-intentioned, they don’t always have the skills to give teens what they need most. A counselor is an objective, supportive, non-judging presence in your teen’s life who will create a safe space where they can freely explore emotions and experiences. Through this relationship, your child can view themselves with more compassion, empathy, and understanding.
At Bay Area Mental Health, we offer individual and group therapy to teens from a variety of backgrounds—including those who identify as LGBTQ, POC, or otherwise marginalized.
What To Expect In Therapy
Counseling is highly tailored to meet your teen’s unique needs and goals for treatment. As such, each step of the process will be customized to their comfort level. We will work together to involve parents in a way that feels comfortable. We believe that family participation is valuable for supporting ongoing, lasting change and we also believe that the therapy space is sacred.
Whatever approach we take, counseling is designed to help teens alter unhealthy thought patterns into positive ones. Beyond exploring early attachments, communication, and social/familial roles, our clients learn how to regulate emotions and tolerate distress. Some therapy models that are especially effective for teens include:
(Trauma-Focused) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – challenges and changes negative thought patterns in order to improve mood and decrease unhealthy behaviors
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – increases distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness
Expressive Art Therapy – expresses emotions and strengths in creative ways
Narrative Therapy – empowers teens to change the narratives and beliefs they have formed about themselves and others
Strengths Based Approach – highlights individual strengths and abilities to facilitate a safe and accepting therapeutic environment
We also offer group therapy for teens to help them foster community, enhance communication, and reinforce emotional and social skills.
Through counseling, your teen can access newfound motivation and coping techniques. By overcoming fears and anxieties, they can gain clarity in their relationships, leading to more honesty, effective boundaries, and deeper connections. They will also improve daily habits so that sleep and appetite improve, and they’re able to break things down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Stress management skills are among the many lifelong benefits your teen can receive in therapy.
Feeling confident in their choices can enhance your teen’s everyday experience of the world. By fostering a deeper connection with themselves and others in counseling for teens, your child can meaningfully work toward who they want to be.
Are You A Teen Who Questions Whether Or Not Counseling Is Right For You?
Therapy won’t help me feel better.
While we can’t guarantee what the outcome of therapy will be, we can tell you that the support of a trained professional is proven to lead to increased feelings of safety and acceptance in many teens. Everybody responds to treatment differently, but your overall mood will likely improve by going to counseling rather than doing nothing to meaningfully support your mental health. If you want things to be different, you have to do something different to get there!
Do my parents have to be involved in the counseling process?
Our therapists respect our teen client’s wishes, whether they’d like to include parents or not. Confidentiality is essential to us, and it’s important that each client feels safe and willing to be open. If there is a situation in which a parent might have to get involved, we will assess what is appropriate and what is least harmful. No matter what, we are very collaborative and will thus share openly with our teens about what is discussed between their parent(s) and therapist.
So, is everything I discuss in teen therapy confidential?
To some extent, yes. However, as mandated reporters, your safety and well-being are our main priorities. There are certain limitations to the confidentiality afforded to teens in counseling, including reports of child abuse or neglect and the intention to hurt yourself or others. Again, we will assess the situation to determine if and how parents should be involved and any other reports that need to be made.
You Can Improve Your Self-Esteem And Outlook
If your teen child struggles with symptoms of anxiety, depression, ADHD, or post-traumatic stress, counseling at Bay Area Mental Health is an opportunity to develop lifelong coping skills. Contact us to schedule a free, 15-minute consultation or find out more how we can help.
Meet our Team of Teen Therapists:
Teresa Lopez, AMFT
Karina Carvajal-Frakt, LMFT
Sandy Kong, LMFT
Contact Us to meet with one our Teen Therapists:
Get in touch so we can start working together.