737-808-4888

kristen@gtxteentherapy.com

903 Forest Street, Georgetown, TX 78626

Unlocking the Potential: The Effectiveness of Virtual Counseling for Teens

virtual counseling for teens austin texas

Introduction

When considering counseling for teens, there are many factors to explore. You may be wondering about the cost, the best type of counseling for teens, how to find a great teen counselor, and whether or not virtual counseling will be effective for your teen.

Counseling is an investment.

It’s an investment of time, money, and energy both on your part and on the part of your teen. We learned through the pandemic, how many ways we could use a virtual space to connect, in ways we never imagined possible. What does all this mean for counseling?

Here are three considerations to explore as you consider if virtual counseling will be effective for your teen.

1) Accessibility and Convenience:

In-Person Challenges:

Traveling to see a teen counselor requires a flexibility in your work schedule, in your teen’s schedule, and in the schedule of the counselor. And what if you find a great teen counselor, only to realize they’re located more than thirty minutes away? During the week, it may not be realistic for you to spend over an hour commuting to a 45-50 minute session. You may have multiple commitments like getting other children to extra curricular activities, getting dinner on the table, or a rigid work schedule. The traffic alone may double or triple the time of the commute.

So, you may be considering virtual counseling for your teen. If you’re reading through this post, researching teen counselors, and considering investing in counseling for your teen, I can tell how important it is for you to take all factors into consideration. You want counseling for your teen to work. You want them to find relief from what they’re struggling with and to gain confidence in themself, build healthy relationships with others, and find joy within. And, realistically, there are only so many hours in the day, so much energy in your body, and so much availability in your schedule to make it happen.

Virtual counseling alleviates you from adding one extra event to your schedule. It allows you to spend those two plus hours at home or on the road to wherever you need to be at that moment. And before you start feeling guilty about making this decision for yourself, your teen benefits too.

Comfort in Familiar Spaces:

Virtual counseling with teens allows them to receive the support they need from the comfort of their own home and usually their own room. Most teens I talk to spend a lot of time in their rooms. It is their own world, where they can express themselves, the place they can go when they’re feeling big emotions, and a setting where they can “hang loose.” When teens do virtual counseling, they’re able to be in the space where they feel most safe, which can help support them to feel safe in the virtual space of counseling. They may be more willing to open up online (as most of them already have practice doing), build trust, and establish a relationship more quickly than they might in person.

 

2) Effectiveness and Mental Health Improvement:

Building Relationships and Reducing Stress

At the end of the day virtual counseling, just like in-person counseling, is based on the relationship your teen develops with the counselor. Virtual counseling for teens has been shown to improve mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and increasing coping skills. How does that happen in virtual counseling you might ask? By getting to know one another, by being a safe and trusted person for your teen to talk to, and by practicing skills together.

It also offers a unique ability to for me, the teen counselor, to get a glimpse into your teen’s life. I’ll get to see how they decorate their room, how they organize (or not!), and gain inspiration of how to use their room to regulate and self-soothe when they’re experiencing big emotions like anxiety, stress, or a lack of self-confidence.

Real-Life Application of Skills:

What’s great about virtual counseling is that your teen is actually getting to practice those regulation skills “in vivo”, meaning in real life. When we talk about strategies to help them sleep (so they can wake up on time and feel well rested), we’ll be exploring their space to see how they can make it more conducive to sleep. They may realize the LED lights on their ceiling are keeping them awake, and want to experiment with turning them off. They may decide they want to move their body before sleep and demonstrate where in their room they can stretch, dance, or put their legs up the wall. They may decide to start a “worry” time for five minutes before going to sleep, pick out the paper, writing utensil, and spot to place those things, all while in a virtual counseling session, allowing me, the teen counselor, to scaffold the skill and get them to practice while we’re in session together.

Virtual counseling for teens allows those skills to feel real in a way that it just can’t in a teen counselor’s office. I can’t tell you how many times a teen client has come back to me after an in-person session and told me they forgot what they committed to work on. By engaging in virtual counseling, they’ll practice the skills in their way, in their space, so it becomes real for them, and they can see themself, actually doing the thing. I told you…lots of cool stuff happening in virtual counseling for teens.

3) Challenges and Considerations

Privacy Concerns:

It’s not all unicorns and rainbows though. There are definitely some challenges and considerations when you’re thinking about virtual counseling for your teen. First is, even though your teen may be more comfortable at home and in their space, they may not. They may worry about being in a location where other members of the household can overhear them. In virtual counseling, teens will need a place for privacy, where they are alone and cannot be overheard by parents, siblings, or others in the home. (Pets are always welcome in a virtual teen counseling session!)

Next, teen counseling also needs to be private online. That means, your teen and I will need a secure space where we don’t have to worry about the possibility of getting hacked or interrupted. For that reason, my practice uses a secure, HIPAA compliant portal for all virtual teen counseling sessions. Your teen will be provided an easy link they can use on any device to join the session. No app is required and nothing special is needed on your teen’s end, except a stable internet connection and a device.

Technological Challenges:

In that regard, technology can be wonky. On days where there’s severe weather, or there are too many people on a network, things may get glitchy, your teen or I may get kicked out of the session, or we may freeze on screen. That can be frustrating! It’s also great for counseling. One of the limits to in person therapy is that it’s typically calm, cool, and collected. Meaning, your teen has little to no opportunity to feel stressed, like they do when they’re not in a teen counseling session. By having to navigate technological issues in virtual counseling, your teen will be practicing problem-solving skills, frustration tolerance, and cognitive flexibility. How great! These are all things I bet you want your teen to learn and what better way than while having a teen counselor at your teen’s side in the virtual counseling space?

Adapting to a Digital World:

Finally, in the day and age of endless screens, you may wonder if all of this counseling stuff can be done over screen. I know I have! Virtual counseling for teens is different from in-person counseling for teens. I get it. And, different doesn’t mean bad. It just means different. If your teen gets dysregulated and is having difficulty self-soothing, they may not be able to experience my presence over the screen. If a teen gets frustrated with the teen counseling process, they may hang up the call. If a teen is tired of being on screens, they may be reluctant to try virtual counseling. I get it. There are days when I get like that too. At the same time, we live in a digital world now. More than likely, at some point in their career, your teen may end up in a hybrid or remote work situation. They’ve already had to navigate hybrid or remote school and they may again in the future. We don’t really know what will happen. Learning what it feels like to have too much screen time, how it feels in our bodies when we’ve looked at a screen for a while, and ways we can adapt to being in a digital world, all become part of the virtual teen counseling experience.

Conclusion:

All in all, I trust you and your teen to know what’s best for you. Virtual counseling for your teen may be a great fit for this season of life…and it may not. That’s okay too. What matters most, is finding a teen counselor that meets your teen’s mental health needs, is someone your teen can trust, and who is willing to co-create the counseling experience together.

If you’re ready to connect with me to see if I’m a right fit for working with your teen, call me for a FREE 15-minute consultation at 737-808-4888.  We’ll discuss my style, what you and your teen are looking for and if I’m the right fit to help your teen move from unhappy and withdrawn to finding joy and confidence from within.

 

 

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kristen@gtxteentherapy.com
737-808-4888

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