Adolescence is hard. It is a time when children go through a variety of physical, emotional, hormonal, intellectual, and social transitions. Add to that the mounting pressures technology and social media place on teens and it is no wonder so many struggle with mental health.
Seeking counseling for your teen can be helpful in teaching them healthy coping techniques, how to prioritize efficiently, and give them a safe place to talk through their struggles. Counselors can offer tips on technology use, and can help provide parents with suggestions to keep their teen content and on track.
If you are unsure if your teen needs help, here are some warning signs to look out for:
- Sadness, hopelessness: what happened to that happy kid? No one is happy all the time but we don’t want sadness to become more regular than contentment.
- Irritability, anger, or hostility: some of this is expected with a teenager, or anyone for that matter, but if these feelings start becoming more frequent or intense and is unusual for your teen then it can be a warning sign.
- Tearfulness, or frequent crying: is your teen breaking out into tears at the drop of a hat? Is he/she expressing feelings of being overwhelmed or not understanding why they are unhappy?
- Withdrawal from friends or family: Is your teen spending more and more time in their room? Avoiding social situations? How often are they engaging with their peers or participating in family activities?
- Loss of interest in activities: is your teen suddenly uninterested in playing in the band, or signing up for soccer? Does he/she not want to do much of anything anymore?
- Poor school performance: falling grades and difficultly concentrating can be a big sign that something is just not right. It can be hard to focus on school work if your teen is feeling depressed or anxious.
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits: is your teen suddenly not interested in eating, or is he/she going on food binges? Have you noticed your teen asleep at odd hours or up all night?
If you have noticed one or more of these signs becoming a major part of your teens everyday life then it might be time to consider counseling.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
TF-CBT (Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is an evidenced-based treatment designed to help children, adolescents, and their parents overcome the impact of traumatic events. Examples of trauma could include, but are not limited to, death of a loved one, being a victim of physical, sexual, or emotional violence, witnessing domestic violence, accidents, and natural disaster.
Children and teens who are survivors of trauma might be experiencing shock, shame, anger, anxiety, depression, lack of control, panic, and fear, even long after the trauma has ended. Some children may develop symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) such as intrusive memories, hyperarousal, avoidance of things that remind them of the trauma, and maladaptive views of self, others, the world and the future.
TF-CBT helps reduce these distressing feelings and symptoms, ultimately reinstating a sense of control and empowerment. The therapist, client, and parent will work collaboratively to learn about their trauma, develop a toolbox of coping skills to manage traumatic stress reactions, learn how to reframe past events, challenge distressing thoughts and beliefs in a more positive, helpful way, process the trauma in creative ways that appeal to the strengths of the client, and integrate the trauma in a positive way in which the child can feel a renewed sense of empowerment and a hopeful future.
TF-CBT is a structured, short-term treatment that lasts roughly between 12-25 sessions. This includes individual sessions for the child or teen, individual sessions for the parents, and conjoint sessions between parent and child or adolescent.