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Article written by Ellen Molino

Does Your Teen Need Counseling or Therapy? Comprehensive Guide for Parents

This is a brief guide to help you determine whether your child needs counseling or therapy. If you decide they need help, Centro SOL has resources available for you.

What is Counseling for Teens?

Counseling is a vital resource for teenagers that allows them to address specific challenges over a short time period. Speaking with a licensed professional is a highly effective way for teens to work through their problems in a goal-oriented manner while receiving support and guidance. By collaborating with a counselor, teenagers can develop strategies and actively engage in problem-solving processes. Teens are empowered to navigate their circumstances, gain valuable insights, and ultimately conquer the obstacles that they encounter. Whether it is for emotional challenges, academic stress, familial conflicts, or other concerns, counseling equips teenagers with the necessary tools to better cope with their problems and emerge as stronger individuals. Teen counseling utilizes a practical approach that focuses on one problem at a time and thus its duration is shorter than therapy.

What is Therapy for Teens?

Therapy offers long-term ways to cope with thoughts and feelings that can disrupt a teen’s daily life. The difficulties the teen might face can be caused by prior experiences or trauma, mental health disorders, or everyday stressors. Therapy can help teens cope with stress and equips them with tools they can use to strengthen their relationships, communicate effectively, and build their emotional intelligence. Unlike counseling, which is seen as a more practical, short-term treatment, therapy covers more complex issues and centers on long-term change through continued use. Therapy is intended for the teen to discover and apply changes while the therapy lasts.

When does a teen need counseling or therapy?

Teen-testimonios-program-centro-solLife is challenging for teenagers. Many deal with unexpected and rapid changes within themselves and in their external environment that can be difficult to manage. Teenagers may not feel comfortable confiding in family members for various reasons. Here are some signs that a teenager may need counseling and/or therapy:

  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies – They suddenly stop enjoying something they previously liked.
  • Frequent outbursts of anger – Includes aggression or power struggles; Difficulty expressing emotions in a healthy way.
  • Use of mood-altering substances – Drugs, alcohol etc.
  • Decrease in performance at school or work – Going from A’s/ B’s to C’s/D’s or receiving multiple write ups/warnings.
  • Increase of isolation in their behavior – They stop communicating or engaging with others.
  • Distinct change in mood – Are there things making them upset that wouldn’t normally bother them?
  • Displaying repetitive self-destructive behavior – This might include hair pulling, skin-picking or cutting.
  • Exhibiting low self-esteem or lacking confidence – Often seeks information from social media or the news, or frequently asks for reassurance.
  • Shares persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or self-doubt.
  • They express a desire to go to counseling or therapy.

How much does counseling or therapy for teens cost?

The cost of therapy or counseling varies depending on location, type, and duration of sessions. Sessions are usually 30-60 minutes long and the cost can range from $0-$250+/hour. Some therapists and counselors accept insurance or provide sliding scale fees.

What are the types of therapy for teens?

  • Individual Therapy: The teen meets one on one with a counselor either in person or via video chat. Sessions usually last 30 – 60 minutes.
  • Group Therapy: The teen along with other teens with similar mental health needs meet with a counselor together either in person or via video chat. Sessions usually last 60-90 minutes depending on the size of the group.
  • Family Therapy: The teen and their family (can include parents, siblings and/or other family members) meet with a counselor either in person or via video chat. The session usually lasts for 60-90 minutes depending on the size of the group.

What are the benefits of teen counseling/therapy?

Counseling or therapy allows teenagers to express their feelings and worries to someone who is objective. A counselor or therapist is professionally trained to support them and provide healthy coping mechanisms. These sessions serve as an outlet and safe space for the teenager.

How many sessions will it take until my teen feels better?

There is not a set number of sessions that are necessary. The counselor can provide you with an update on their progress without divulging confidential information.

Are counseling and therapy services for teens confidential?

For children 18 years and older, the content of sessions is confidential. Confidentiality policies vary for children under 18. Some therapists keep sessions confidential unless the teen shares information that immediately puts them or someone they know in direct harm. Others will share information with the child’s parents if asked. Ask your therapist about their confidentiality policy.

Teen Counseling/Therapy Options

If you are looking for therapy or counseling options, this is a list of some resources that can be helpful for you and your teen:

Volunteer with Centro SOL to Support Teens

Group of mentors and mentees studying together

Become a Youth Mentor with Centro SOL in Baltimore, Maryland

This is a great chance to volunteer and support teens in the Baltimore area participating in Centro SOL’s annual Summer Youth Program.

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Article written by

Ellen Molino

Research Program Manager

Centro SOL – Center for Salud/Health and Opportunity for Latinos

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