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3 Biggest Myths about Teen Therapy

It’s common to feel confused about what to expect from teen therapy.  While the internet has given us a lot of valuable information, it’s also created the opportunity for misinformation. 

You may have seen movies or shows where a therapist is featured and wondered, is this what teen therapy is actually like? 

Doing something new and different, even if you believe it’s going to help you, like therapy, can be scary or provoke anxiety.  As a parent, you want to make sure you are making the best decision for your teen and getting them support that will actually help.  This article is here to clear up some of the biggest myths about teen therapy, so you can evaluate if teen therapy is something you want to explore for your teen when they are struggling with big emotions or hard things.  

1) The Therapist will “Fix” Your Teen

While the goal of therapy is to feel better and improve your teen’s life, a therapist is not there to “fix” your teen.  In fact, there’s nothing wrong with your teen.  Your teen may be dealing with big emotions they don’t know how to process or you may be dealing with challenging behaviors from your teen.  That all could be true.  At the same time, therapy isn’t there to “fix” something, because nothing’s broken.  What is going on is a human experience. 

Sometimes we experience things we’re not equipped to respond to and those experiences overwhelm our capacity to cope. 

Everyone has been there.  Sometimes it happens when we’re four, and we don’t get the snack we want and sometimes it happens when we’re fourteen and we’re going through something at home, we’re overwhelmed with school stress, or we’ve been bullied online. 

In therapy, your teen will learn to accept their experiences. 

Through accepting them, they’ll learn to feel big emotions and respond effectively, so next time something hard comes up, because it will, they’ll feel more prepared.  But let’s be clear.  It’s your teen who is doing the work in therapy.  The therapist isn’t the one “fixing” your teen.  Your teen is the one showing up, building a relationship with a new person (their therapist), and practicing what they learn outside of the therapy room.  It’s a really cool thing when you think about it.  

2) My Teen is the Only One Who Needs to Change

Teens live in families and often, when I work with a teen and they start to change, it also challenges other members in the family to change.  Think about a mobile above a baby’s crib.  If you move one piece of the mobile, then the whole mobile shifts balance.  A similar thing happens in families. 

When one family member changes, in this case your teen, by attending therapy, it’s going to shift things in the family. 

This can feel disorienting or unfamiliar at first.  Your teen may learn skills like assertive communication, where they’re expressing clearly what they like or don’t like.  They may want to include you in therapy sessions to work on a particular struggle in your relationship or simply to talk with you about how to support their own growth and development and ask you to do something you’ve never done before. 

This is one way, you as the parent can support the work your teen is doing in therapy.  By being open and accepting of what they have to say, you are staying a safe, important person in your teen’s life, even as they get older and move toward adulthood.  

3) My Teen Will Be In Therapy Forever

Fortunately, this just isn’t true.  Therapy is great when your teen needs it and for as long as your teen needs it.  Typically this is between three and six months, if you’re working with me.  While it may feel like an eternity to your teen, three to six months in the scheme of things, is a relatively short amount of time.  My goal when I’m working with a teen in therapy is to be another adult in their life who makes them feel seen, heard, and understood, and develop the skills to respond to big emotions and hard things. 

I don’t want your teen to be in therapy forever.  I want them to feel better and move forward in their lives. 

The great thing about developing a relationship with a therapist early on in your child’s teen years is, then your teen has an opportunity to build a relationship with a trusted teen therapist, who will be there if they need support again in the future.  While your teen won’t need to be in therapy forever, like a car, sometimes our brains need a tune-up.  Let’s say your teen came to see me in seventh grade for a bullying issue.  They started to feel better, learned the skills they needed to respond effectively to the bullying and stopped therapy.  Then a couple years later, when they start high school, they start to experience social anxiety, where they’re having trouble in large groups, lacking confidence, and experiencing uncomfortable physical sensations like sweating or a racing heart.  Since they already have the experience of working with me, it makes it easier to return to therapy to learn how to respond to this new experience they’re going through. 

After the zero to three years, the biggest brain development happens in adolescence. 

There’s so much going on and so many new experiences, it makes sense why a teen could use some extra support here and there to learn how to navigate big emotions and hard things.  

I hope this article helped to dispel the three biggest myths about teen therapy.  Starting something new, like choosing to seek therapy for your teen can bring up a lot of feelings.  Parents may feel overwhelmed by all the questions regarding different therapist credentials or styles of therapy, confused about how to select a great therapist for their teen, or unclear about what to ask a therapist during the first phone call

Finding a good match for you and your teen is a process. 

While it can definitely trigger feelings of overwhelm and insecurity, the investment in time and energy is so valuable.  The greatest indicator of a teen’s success in therapy, is the relationship they have with the therapist. 

If after reading this, you are interested in helping your unhappy, withdrawn teen learn to find joy and confidence from within, then call 737-808-4888 for a FREE 15-minute consultation.  Are you an introvert who likes to avoid the phone?  Then send a message through my secure portal, and I’ll reach out to schedule a time to talk.  


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