Are You Worried That Your Teenager Is Headed Down A Harmful Path?

Teen Counseling Dr. Dori Gatter West Hartford CTAre you becoming increasingly concerned by your teenager’s emotional well being, erratic or risky behavior or social skills and development? Is your teen struggling to regulate his or her emotions, crying one moment and laughing the next? Perhaps your teen is rebelling, breaking house rules or arguing with you about everything from friends to grades to clothing. Or, maybe your teen has become increasingly irritable or withdrawn and has lost interest in friends and activities that he or she once enjoyed. Do you worry that your teen is using drugs or alcohol, self-harming or struggling with body image issues? Does your teen seem overly anxious about everything from social situations to school assignments to what and how much he or she will eat? Do you wish you better understood what was going on for your child and had the tools to get him or her to open up?
Parenting a teenager can be a frustrating, confusing and stressful experience. The child who once came to you for everything may now be shutting you out or pushing back on every boundary, conversation and house rule. You may feel like you’ve lost connection with or even control of your child and wonder when, where and how things went wrong. Defiant behavior, a slip in grades or his or her reluctance to get out of bed and to school on time might be causing further disconnection, conflict and disharmony in your home. And, you may be deeply worried that your child is engaging in risky behavior, such as cutting, skipping meals, promiscuous sex or substance abuse. You might also worry that your child’s gaming, social media or other internet use is becoming isolating and excessive. You may feel confused or even desperate, wishing you knew how to get through to your child and ensure that he or she is okay.

Many Teenagers Struggle Through Adolescence

For many teens (and their parents), the adolescent years can be rife with challenge. During these years, teens are charged with the exciting, yet difficult and often painful tasks of developing their own identities. While hormones surge and peer relationships become more complex, they’re also trying to identify and negotiate who they are in the world and what they stand for. Many find it difficult to self-regulate their emotions and manage stress effectively. While some teens handle the transition from child to adult with limited challenges, many truly struggle to understand who they are and to navigate school, emotions and social relationships. Without proper support and resources in place, these teens are more prone to developing depression, anxiety and self-harming behaviors.
If your teen is struggling with emotional, social or behavioral issues, he or she is not alone. The good news is that just your teen’s struggles do not indicate that he or she is broken, damaged or unable to make positive changes. With the help of teen counseling, your child can work through the challenges of adolescence, learn healthy way to cope with stress and move forward into a healthy and successful future.

Teen Counseling Can Provide Your Teen With Coaching, Support And Safe Place To Explore Emotions

Teen counseling can be extremely effective, especially if your teenager wants to feel better or has expressed a desire for help. Even if your teen isn’t mature enough to make this distinction yet, an experienced and compassionate therapist can help your teenager gain the insight and maturity he or she needs to meaningfully engage in therapy and make healthier, more thoughtful choices moving forward.
In teen counseling sessions, one of our teen experts will help your teen identify, explore and address the difficult issues and emotions that surface during the adolescent years. Your teen can learn that his or her emotions are normal and develop skills to articulate and cope with difficult feelings. He or she can build more effective communication skills and learn strategies to manage stress and worries, such as mindfulness exercises and shifting negative thinking patterns into more realistic, empowering thoughts. Your teen’s therapist can also help your child better navigate his or her relationship with you. If there is stress in your relationship and home, your teen can feel free to express feelings in sessions while also learning how to respect the rules ofyour home and work with you in order to alleviate concerns so he or she can get needs met.
Teen counseling sessions also include a lot of self-esteem work. Your teen’s therapist will gently push your child to start really thinking about his or her values, strengths, interests and life goals, which supports healthy identity growth. Often teens struggling with depression, anxiety or self-harming behaviors gain a healthier view of themselves by identifying what they’re good at and building on those strengths. Positive affirmations, goal setting and keeping track of good choices can also help build self-esteem and boost motivation.
Your teen’s therapist can also help you strengthen your relationship with your teen. You can learn how to change your communication framework so that your teen feels more comortable opening up to you. You can learn how to pick your battles, let go a little so your teen can make and learn from small mistakes and develop strategies and tools that can help you feel more confident and balanced in your parenting style.
With the help of a supportive therapist, your teen can develop tools and insight to navigate these challenging years with more ease. Your teen can create and meet goals for his or her present and future. Even in the midst of difficult circumstances, your teen can begin to feel more confident and empowered as he or she learns valuable skills that can be carried into adulthood.

Although you might believe that your teen could benefit from additional support, you still may have questions or concerns about teen counseling…

I can’t help but think that my teen’s problems are my fault. I’m afraid that I’ll learn that I made colossal mistakes and be judged as a bad parent.
First, no well-trained therapist will judge you as a bad parent – especially as you’ve sought help for your child. And, you clearly care deeply for your child. You’d not be on this website otherwise. Second, your feelings are totally valid and normal. All parents go through times when they question themselves and the decisions they’ve made for their children. It’s important to understand that your teen is charged with figuring out his or her own way right now, which is no easy task. And, seeking help is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it indicates that you want to do all you can to ensure your child’s wellbeing and success.
My teen needs help, but I don’t think I’ll be able to get him or her to agree to therapy.
In discussing the idea of teen counseling, it’s best to try to meet your teen where he or she is emotionally. Try to not force the idea, but rather, gently express your concerns and explain the benefits of therapy. You can also offer a month trial period to see how how it goes. While it’s your job to get your child into the office, once here, it’s our job to build a relationship with your teen and get him or her to open up. And, after a few sessions, most teens begin to enjoy the experience.
How much of what you and my child discuss will be shared with me?
A cornerstone piece of any successful therapy experience is the private, trusting relationship that is developed between therapist and client. Your teen is going to make so much more progress knowing that he or she has a safe place to discuss anything and everything. For that reason, with the exception of safety issues, all sessions are confidential. You’ll need to have faith that your teen will share what he or she needs to with you. And, as your teen works on communication issues and learns how to better understand and express his or her emotions, you may find that your teen begins to open up more to you again.
We invite you to call our office for a free 15-minute phone consultation. We’re happy to discuss the concerns you have about your teenager and to answer any questions you have about teen counseling and our approach and practice.