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4 Common Questions about Therapy for Depressed Teens


You may remember feeling sad as a teen or as if nothing was going right in the world.  You may remember dramatic mood swings, arguments with your parents, and the freedom of living life without the feeling of consequences.  You may be looking at your teen now wondering what they have to be sad about. 

May you’re providing a different life than you had growing up.  Maybe you’re providing more nurture or more structure. 

Maybe your teen has everything they could ever want and still, they’re unhappy and withdrawn. 

You’ve been talking to your friends, the school counselor, and your child’s pediatrician and you’re considering therapy for your teen.  Maybe you’ve been to therapy yourself and you know how it helps.  Or maybe this is all new to you, and you’re really just not sure of what all a therapist will do to help your teen.  Read on below for answers to commonly asked questions about therapy for depressed teens.

1) How will therapy help my depressed teen?

A lot of getting out of a depression is in the doing, so by having a scheduled therapy appointment, getting out of the house, and showing up, is part of the healing process.  Similarly, if you or your teen prefer telehealth, the act of turning on the video camera, seeing someone else, and talking make a big difference. 

After the initial act of showing up for the appointment, your teen telling their story and being seen and heard changes people. 

Therapy will help your teen will learn how to put words to the experiences they’re having internally. 

They will have a place to feel their feelings and learn to accept them all. 

Part of the struggle of depression is feeling unworthy, of little value, or like you don’t matter.  The investment required for you as the parent to organize therapy, fund therapy, and transport to and from therapy, then having a therapist’s undivided attention creates a dissonance against those depressing thoughts. 

On the one hand, the thoughts say, “I don’t matter” and on the other hand, my parent is making the effort to get me support and there’s a person who wants to hear what life is like for me.  

2) What will my depressed teen learn in therapy?

Your teen will learn to sit with discomfort without getting stuck.  So much of depression is being in a never-ending feedback loop of hurting feelings and thoughts. 

Through therapy, your teen will learn to feel the feelings and learn strategies to let them go, process them, and express them, so they don’t stay stuck in the mind and body. 

Your teen will learn strategies to stay present in the moment, by tuning in to their five senses rather than staying stuck in the past. 

Your teen will also learn how to have compassion for themselves, so they can notice when judgmental thoughts come up and reframe them into neutral thoughts or distract themselves until the thoughts go away. 

The goal is for your teen to learn these skills in therapy and then take them out into their life, so they’re using them when they need them.   

3) How can I support my teen if they go to therapy?

Great question!  There are a ton of ways you as the parent can be supportive of your teen. 

Help them prioritize their mental health needs by being consistent in therapy. 

Help them get to and from therapy and trusting the process are all key ways you can support your teen. 

Another way you can support your teen is by being curious about them and their experience in therapy?  This is a delicate balance between being “nosy” or judgmental and expressing genuine interest in who your child is as a human and what life is like from their perspective. 

Nosiness can sound like: “Did you talk about me today in your session?  Did you figure out what’s going on with you?”  Curiosity sounds like: “Tell me about therapy today.  What’s one thing you learned in therapy?” or “What will you be practicing this week to help with your depression?”  Feel the difference? 

Being a parent of a teen who’s in therapy is tough.  You have to trust the process and the therapist to help your teen without knowing exactly what’s going on. 

I’m so grateful to the parents of teens I work with that they are willing to do this and tolerate their own discomfort as their teen goes through the therapy process.  

4) How can I tell if therapy is working?

When you work with me, during the first session, we’ll look to the future three months or six months down the road, and I’ll ask both you and your teen that exact question. 

I want to know for your perspective (and your teen’s), how we’ll be able to tell if it’s working by looking at the outside. 

For some teens struggling with depression that may look like spending more time with family or friends.  For others it may look like laughing more or more peaceful thoughts. 

It’s important for us to talk about this in the beginning, so we know where we’re going. 

I want to have a clear picture of what you and your teen want out of therapy, and I want you to have a clear picture too. 

That way we’ll be able to tell, is it working?  Because if it’s not working, then what’s the point? 

I don’t want your teen to come to therapy every week and not feel better or learn skills they need to  help them respond more effectively to stress or whatever is going on in their life. 

Having a clear picture also allows us to have regular feedback throughout the course of therapy, so we can know early on, are we on the right path?  Is this headed where you want it to go?

This allows us to course correct and change things up, if things aren’t working. 

It also allows us to have conversations like, how am I doing as your therapist?  What am I doing that you like?  What am I doing that you don’t like?  Am I still the best fit for you

This type of feedback is so powerful in therapy, because it keeps us moving toward your goal and gives you continual input in the process. 

And your teen is learning communication skills all along the way.   

Are you ready to explore therapy with me for your unhappy, withdrawn teen?  Would you like your teen to find more confidence and joy from within?  If so, call me at (737) 808-4888 for a FREE 15 minute consultation.  Would you rather type out what’s going on.  You can do that too by filling out this form.

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