Adolescent Therapy

Teens need a place to talk, but may not be able to ask for it. They are more likely to open up if they feel they can do so without fear of criticism or judgment.  It can be difficult to hear that your son or daughter is suffering without jumping to advice-giving. If you feel you are struggling to help, or are worried your son or daughter needs more, our team at Bay Psychology Group can help. Here are some of the issues we can address:

When counseling for teens may be appropriate:

  • Refusing to attend school or declining academic performance
  • Excessive fearfulness or worrying
  • Enduring sadness and crying or hopelessness
  • Strong negative feelings about him- or herself
  • Outbursts of uncontrollable anger or overreacting
  • Persistent or extreme concerns about physical appearance
  • Repetitive habits and rituals like hand-washing, counting or touching
  • Worry about being harmed, hurting others or doing something “bad”
  • Excessive sexual thoughts or actions
  • Having racing thoughts that are too fast to follow
  • Stealing
  • Using drugs or alcohol
  • Eating large amounts of food and then vomiting, exercising excessively, or abusing laxatives to avoid weight gain
  • Obsessive dieting and/or exercising
  • Seeing things or hearing voices that others do not see or hear

What to Expect in Your First Therapy Session

Embarking on therapy can be a significant step for both teens and their parents. Understanding what to expect in the first session can help alleviate some of the anxiety associated with starting therapy. Here’s what typically happens:

  • Introduction to the Therapeutic Process: The first session is primarily about building rapport and establishing trust. The therapist will introduce themselves and explain the therapy process, including confidentiality rules, which reassure teens that their privacy is respected.
  • Initial Assessment: The therapist will gently encourage the teen to talk about their feelings and experiences. This might involve discussing current issues the teen is facing, their personal and family history, and any previous treatments or therapies. The goal is to get a comprehensive view of the teen’s emotional world and the challenges they are facing.
  • Setting Goals: Part of the initial discussion will also focus on what the teen and their parents hope to achieve through therapy. Setting goals early on helps to direct the course of future sessions and gives the teen a sense of purpose and direction.
  • Engagement in Dialogue: The therapist might use simple, open-ended questions to encourage the teen to express themselves. This conversation helps the therapist assess the teen’s current state and begin to identify the underlying issues that will be addressed in therapy.
  • Education about Psychodynamic Concepts: The therapist may explain some basic psychodynamic concepts to help the teen and parents understand how past experiences can influence present behavior and emotional responses. This might include discussing how unconscious motives, desires, and defense mechanisms work.
  • Outline of Next Steps: By the end of the first session, the therapist will outline the next steps, including how often the sessions will occur and what therapeutic techniques might be used. They may also provide some initial thoughts on what areas will be focused on moving forward.
  • Time for Questions: The first session is also an opportunity for both the teen and their parents to ask questions. This can cover anything from the therapy approach to logistical questions about session timings and duration.

The first session is critical in setting the tone for therapeutic engagement and beginning the journey towards understanding and healing. It’s designed to be a non-threatening introduction to therapy that fosters a sense of safety and acceptance.

Navigating the boundaries of confidentiality is a cornerstone of effective therapy, especially with adolescents. Establishing and maintaining confidentiality is essential for creating a trusting therapeutic relationship where teens feel safe to share their thoughts and feelings openly.

The Importance of Confidentiality in Adolescent Therapy

Confidentiality in therapy means that what the teen shares with their therapist remains private, not to be disclosed without the teen’s consent. This assurance is vital for teens, who may be more willing to discuss sensitive issues when they are confident that their privacy is protected. This is crucial during adolescence, a period marked by a search for identity and a growing need for autonomy.

However, there are important exceptions to this rule, primarily related to safety:

  • Safety Concerns: If there are any indications that your teen might be at risk of harming themselves or others, your therapist is obligated to take necessary steps to ensure safety. This might involve informing you as the parents, guardians, or, in some cases, relevant authorities to prevent harm.
  • Consent for Sharing Information: There are instances where sharing certain information with you as the parents or guardians could be beneficial for the teen’s therapy and overall well-being. In such cases, your therapist will discuss this with your teen and seek their consent to share specific information. This process respects your teen’s autonomy while also involving you in the therapeutic process when appropriate and beneficial.
  • Legal Requirements: In certain situations, therapists may be required by law to disclose information about suspected abuse or other specific situations. Therapists will make these legal boundaries clear from the outset.

Your therapist will typically discuss the parameters of confidentiality during the first therapy session, ensuring both your teen and you understand when and how information might be shared. This discussion helps set the stage for a transparent and effective therapeutic relationship, where your teen feels both supported and secure in knowing their right to privacy is respected, balanced against the need to ensure their safety and well-being.

We’re here to help

Please use the button below to reach out if you’d like to schedule a time for your teen to meet with one of us. If you’re needing more resources please visit our local resources page.




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