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What Is Teen Counseling?

Having a troubled teenager is almost a cliché. Teenage years are a confusing and complex time in the lives of almost every individual, and issues like sexual confusion, parental conflict and rebellion can all be part of a healthy transition from childhood to adulthood. However, in some cases, there is an underlying pathology so severe that traditional methods of handling issues may not be enough. It is in this type of situation that seeking teen counseling may be called for.


Teen counseling is mental health counseling that is administered by a practitioner who has special knowledge and experience in dealing with teens and their issues. The teenage years represent an important stage of development, and counselors who are accustomed to working with adults, or even children who are not yet approaching puberty may not have the skills or information needed to effectively counsel teenagers.


Who Can Benefit from Teen Counseling?

Almost any teen who is struggling with issues related to growing up can derive some benefit to teen counseling. However, teens who are struggling with adult issues or issues that typical teenagers may not normally have to face can be particularly helped by a competent teen counselor. These issues may include dealing with the death of a loved one, battling a substance abuse problem or coming to grips with homosexuality. However, it can also mean dealing with issues that might bring anyone into counseling, such as depression, anxiety or attention deficits. In fact, the effects of such disorders can be multiplied many times due to the pressures inherent in teen life, such as an emphasis on doing well in school and peer pressure.


How Does Teen Counseling Work?

Teen counseling can work in much the same way that adult mental health counseling works, with the difference being that the counselor is trained in teen behavior and issues. What this means is that teens can participate in group counseling or individual counseling with a counselor who may be a social worker, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or another type of counselor who has special training in dealing with their issues. A parent should accompany their child to his or her first session to make sure that the teen is comfortable with the type of therapy and the counselor chosen, although when the therapy begins, what goes on in teen counseling between the counselor and teen is private and should remain so.


As with a standard mental health counseling situation, the counselor will usually begin with an intake, exploring what brings the teen into the counseling situation, what they have been struggling with, and what their therapy goals and concerns are. The counselor may also wish to meet with the parents separately to learn their impressions of the situation, although the goal of the counseling is to help the child, not the parents. Once the goals are established, the counselor will work with the teen to learn new coping mechanisms and explore the roots of the issues at hand, so that ultimately the teen will be happier and better able to function during these difficult years.