Updated: Jan 25
TEENAGERS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH
The teen years can be a difficult time for a teen. It is a time when teens are trying to figure out who they are as an individual. Friends take on a whole new meaning and become some of the most important people in their lives. Navigating the social scene during teens years can be tricky causing distressing emotions, along with the increase in hormones that are raging in the body. Add on a global pandemic that has turned the world upside down and it is a recipe for a roller coaster of emotions. So, how as parents can we tell when it's time to take our teen to see a psychologist? Below are some tips that parents can keep in mind when determining whether it is common teen behavior or when it might be time for your teen to see a psychologist:
Change in Personality
Despite the ups and downs during the teen years, a teen's personality is fairly consistent. For example:
If you have a teen who is normally a very social person and they start to withdraw from family and friends, this is a sign that there may be a more serious problem. You have a teen who usually is very calm, cool, and collected start getting upset over seemingly small things. Your teen may start arguing more, becoming irritable, or having anger outbursts. Your teen is a happy teen but you've noticed that their mood has declined and that it doesn't seem to improve. They talk less, spend more time in their room, and don't hang out with their friends as much. You may have a teen who seems confident in themselves start to worry excessively over small things in their life. They voice these concerns or worries and despite your best efforts to help them not to worry, they can't get these worries off their mind.
Change in Friends
If you notice a change in the friends that your teen is hanging out with, this may be a sign of something more serious. If your teen starts hanging out with friends who drink, smoke marijuana, or other drug use, this is a serious indicator or a deeper problem. The best time to intervene and seek professional help through teen therapy with one of our psychologists is when this shift first occurs. When parents intervene early, we tend to see better outcomes among our teens.
Drop in Grades
You've noticed your teen struggling to focus and concentrate. Their grades are starting to slip. After a semester or two you can see that nothing seems to be changing.
This can be a time to seek out professional help. A drop in grades when there does not seem to be a clear explanation is a general indicator of something more serious.
Anytime you observe a shift in your teen’s personality, it could be a sign that it's time to seek consultation from a psychologist. At Katy Psychological Services, PLLC, we can provide the psychological testing for your teen to determine if your teen may benefit from individual and/or family therapy.
Benefits of Individual Teen Therapy
In individual therapy teens are able to have a neutral, non-judgmental, psychologist to talk to about their struggles. When teens don't open up to their parents, it is usually for the following reasons:
They don't want to add stress to their parent’s lives.
The teen themselves may not fully understand what they are experiencing. If one is to struggle with depression or other emotional struggles, this usually emerges during the teen years. This means that this may be the first time your teen is experiencing these emotional struggles at this level. They simply may not have the words to describe what they are experiencing.
Individual therapy can help in the following ways:
Teen therapy provides an opportunity for the teen to explore their inner experience. They have a professional psychologist to help put words to it.
Once the teen makes meaning out of their inner experience, they can start the healing journey towards managing that experience.
They can talk about topics that they feel they don't want to talk publicly about.
They have someone to talk to about those things that they may not be ready to talk to their parents about.
Individual therapy with a psychologist can help them develop the skills to be able to talk to their parents about their inner experience.
Teen therapy can help a teen learn the skills and tools to tackle the complicated emotions they may be experiencing.
Teen therapy provides a trained, professional psychologist to partner with the teen and family. In partnering with a psychologist for teen therapy, you have a highly trained and experienced guide that can help your teen navigate the complex and tricky adolescent experience.
Individual therapy can be provided by a licensed psychologist at Katy Psychological Services.
Benefits of Family Therapy
Working with teens in therapy is different than working with adults in therapy. As adults, depending on the reason we are attending therapy, we can attend once a week and not involve anyone else in the therapy process.
Teens are in a stage of development where they are gaining independence but still need the support of their parents. They aren't quite there yet to be fully on their own.
Teens are part of a family system that influences their success. A teen's chances of success increase when there is family involvement in the teen's therapy journey. Also, the teen tends to sustain long term changes if the family comes along during the healing journey.
Family therapy can help a teen in some of the following ways:
The teen does not feel like the 'problem' when the family participates in therapy. It demonstrates to the teen that this is not a 'teen problem' but a 'family problem' and we are all in this together.
The family can learn the skills and tools that the teen is learning from their psychologist in individual teen therapy.
The family can help support the use of those tools between individual therapy sessions with their psychologist.
Family members can learn ways they may be able to interact differently with their teen to help speed up improvements.
The teen can learn how to talk to their parents about what they are experiencing.
The teen can learn how to draw on the family for support going forward.
Family therapy can be a powerful change agent in the teen's therapeutic journey with their psychologist. When the teen knows that they are not alone in this journey, they feel a sense of support that propels them in teen therapy.
When parents are also willing to take a look at what they can do differently to support change in the teen and family, we have all the ingredients of success.
Family Therapy can be provided at Katy Teen and Family Counseling, PLLC.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker-Supervisor (LCSW-S). He is the owner of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC, a group practice specializing in teen therapy and family counseling. Jason has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003. Through his expertise, he helps teens who struggle with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, trauma, ADHD/ADD, and PTSD. He works with talented teen athletes who have experience mental blocks. Gifted students have unique challenges that Jason understands well. He works to improve both teen athlete's and gifted student's peak performance through neurofeedback and EMDR. Jason uses CBT, EMDR, Neurofeedback, FFT, and Motivational Interviewing. Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC only work with teens and families which allows us to focus on what teens and families of today need. Resolving the struggles of today can assure a more successful tomorrow. Proudly serving Katy, TX and Houston.