Today’s minors and young adults undoubtedly face a higher degree of stress than generations prior, with the exception of those during wartimes. Pressures related to one’s academics, social expectations, and family can often overwhelm and cause enormous mental strife.
High school age teens, in particular, may feel the added uncertainties of getting into a good school, as well as experimenting with facets of adulthood for the first time (sex, drinking, driving, drugs.) While most schools try to be as in touch with their students as possible and reach out when necessary, it’s only too easy for the unlucky ones to go unseen.
Therapy is just as vital to a young person’s well-being as an adult’s, and it’s never too soon to look for the signs that your loved one may be in need of guidance. Perhaps they’re having trouble in their extracurricular life, or with issues pertaining to their grades; they may be an underlying trauma or disorder that needs to be addressed.
Symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety often show themselves around puberty, and many report struggling with such unidentified emotions by the time they reached high school, if not earlier.
When a minor or young adult is unable to meet and surpass developmental milestones, results can drastically range in severity and duration. Being unable to cope with the responsibilities of school and personal life can have far-reaching effects, from irreversible drops in grades to trouble with the law.
It’s important that you recognize such signs and take action as soon as possible, or even better, provide counseling services for your loved one when they reach such an age.
Contrary to prior belief, there is nothing shameful about finding a therapist to speak with your child or teen. Just as adults often need a professional to shed light on their struggles, as well as the realities of their situation, so too do young people–perhaps even more.
Here are some of the more severe preliminary signs to look for, that may indicate your child is in need of therapy:
- Drastic drop in grades or dedication to studies
- Loss of interest in social activities, both in and outside of school
- Mood swings
- Violent outbursts that cannot be articulated
- Deliberately disruptive behavior at home and in the classroom
- Dangerous behavior such as drinking or drug intake
If you feel it’s the right choice to pursue therapy for the young adult in your life, the following are some good things to know:
1. Look for a professional who specializes in working with children and teens.
We all face different challenges at various ages, and it’s important that your child speaks to someone who is trained in the field of childhood development and psychology. Do your homework to make sure they are qualified and highly rated – never underestimate the power of word of mouth recommendations!
If you are seeking traditional in-office therapy for your child, you should book a visit so you can meet with the therapist ahead of time and voice any questions or concerns. Remember, they are there to help your child. As a parent, you have a right to know what the therapy sessions will entail and what the therapist intends to discuss with your child.
2. Talk to your child about why they are going.
A young child or teen may not understand why it is important for them to speak with a professional, and it’s up to you to be honest and reassuring about what will happen during therapy sessions, as well as the positive changes that may result. Anger, resentment, fear, or shame may be felt by your child, so make sure they understand that everyone needs help sometimes and that this is a healthy step forward.
3. Understand your own limitations.
While general updates regarding progress or areas of concern will be provided by your child’s therapist, you will not be able to be in the room with your child and counselor the entire duration of the session, nor will your child’s therapist disclose what is told in confidence. (The only exceptions are cases of sexual and physical abuse or the intent to harm one’s self.)
Some parents and guardians struggle with this, as they feel they should be kept in the know on all matters pertaining to their child’s mental health, but it’s actually quite the opposite! Your minor or teen needs to know that they have someone to talk to who is NOT a parent or authority figure, who will not betray their trust. Do not press your child to reveal everything they say in a therapy session, but respect their privacy and boundaries.
4. Consider signing up with an affordable online therapy service.
Thanks to the convenience of the web, many therapists are moving their offices online and conducting their sessions through trusted online therapy services. Fully licensed and certified, these professionals offer all the benefits of a standard in-office therapy session without the inconvenience of getting out of work early, scheduling rides, or juggling after-school commitments among other siblings.
From the privacy of their own computer, in their own room, your child or teen will be able to speak to a certified and licensed therapist for the full session time scheduled, with the freedom to adjust times and appointments as needed. You will be able to communicate with your child’s therapist regularly and be kept up to date on all matters of progress or regression.
Privacy is a crucial factor in a young adult’s life, and online therapy is ideal for particularly sensitive youths who experience anxiety over in-office appointments and face-to-face therapy sessions. In the comfort and security of their own space, your child will be able to better express their emotions.
Remember: The only downside to an online therapy session is that you must make sure your child is logged on and able/willing to honor their appointment at the designated time, or else you will be charged for the full session.
Therapy is crucial for young developing minds in need of guidance and perspective, and whether you opt for online therapy or in-person sessions, know that you are making the right choice in providing only the best for your child’s well-being.
Growing up is anything but easy, and the expectations facing today’s youth are more than a little formidable. Your child will be able to discuss in confidence the issues that are weighing on them, as well as their relationships to friends, family members, and teachers, and better understand and assimilate into the world they are coming up in.