Few things in life are more difficult than being a teenager, at least from the perspective of the teenager in question. It’s hardly surprising, with teenage years being a period of rapid change and growing pressures. Providing support for teenagers doesn’t mean solving all of their problems for them but instead teaching them how to manage difficulties for themselves as they approach adulthood.
What problems do teenagers face?
Puberty can change pretty much everything for a child: physically, mentally and emotionally. The body suddenly starts changing shape in strange and sometimes uncomfortable ways. There is a constant (often unfair) comparison, sometimes even a sense of competition, with peers. It is not helped by some aspects of celebrity culture and the media, which can set unrealistic expectations about appearance and beauty.
Hormones, exam stress, peer pressure, it can all build up to cause moodiness, anxiety and/or anger. Teenagers can become withdrawn and disengage from their usual interests. Sometimes it can seem that they have experienced a complete personality change. This can be a natural part of growing up, and they may grow out of it just as quickly, but counselling for teenagers can serve to ease the transition and help develop the skills, attitudes and behaviour that will allow them to be both happy and successful in life.
What is involved in counselling for teenagers?
Counselling is a form of support for teenagers that provides them with a safe, non-judgemental space in which to discuss their problems, and expert help in developing effective coping mechanisms. Like most forms of therapy, it begins with a basic introductory session to establish expectations and identify what they want from the counselling.
For most teenagers, who generally still live at home and are reliant on their parents or caregivers, involving their family unit in therapy can be particularly important. A mix of individual and group sessions ensures that both child and adults have opportunities to express their feelings, identify issues and deal with them appropriately. Adults can learn how to best support the teenager and how to communicate with schools about potential adjustments. Teenagers can become more self-aware, learning to recognise their emotions and potential problems earlier, developing techniques to manage symptoms and establishing long-term strategies to protect their wellbeing.
The sessions themselves are just a small part of the overall process. Therapists can check in regularly, but the bulk of the work is done out in the world, trying to enact the things learned in counselling.
What are the benefits of counselling?
Effective counselling will not just deal with the immediate issue, but will give the teenager tools that they can carry with them as they grow older. This can include building confidence, healthy ways to deal with frustration, better interpersonal skills and a generally more positive attitude to life. Early intervention is often the best way to prevent future problems. Teenagers are still learning and growing, once they reach adulthood they may become more fixed in their ways.
Adolescence is a troubling time in many ways, but professional therapists are experienced in identifying the problems of teenagers and know the best ways to deal with them. They can help both adolescents and their caregivers to develop new, healthier attitudes and behaviours that can improve their well-being in the long term.