Therapy for Teens

Teenage life is a wild ride. We help teens navigate through the tough moments and confidently stay on track.

When you’re a teenager, everything changes. High school. Homework. Sports. Activities. Dating. Breakups and breakdowns. Parents who worry and friends who sometimes don’t feel like friends. Learning to drive, part-time jobs, body image, media influences, and being asked the cringe-worthy question: “So what are you doing after high school?”  it’s a LOT to manage.  We can help.

The teenage years are a time of rapid growth, exploration, development, and identity formation. During this transformative phase, teenagers often grapple with questions of self-identity, self-worth, and their place in the world. They may face pressures from various sources, such as peers, academic expectations, societal standards, and family dynamics. Constantly exposed to evolving friendships, school stress, media sources, social activities, and diverse perspectives from people around them, teenagers work to develop their personalities and interests while simultaneously challenging the status quo with a desire to stand out. Exploring the question of “Who am I?” while absorbing peer pressures can feel like an emotional roller coaster. Teens today NEED a safe outlet to talk, vent, explore, discover, be sad, mad, happy, express themselves, be heard, and navigate the ups and downs of everyday life.

Teens also commonly feel like they are stuck in a transitional phase as they pursue their adult-like desires to be independent while simultaneously still needing to have some dependence on their parents or guardians. This is often frustrating for teens and can also take a toll on the family unit as a whole. Teens may begin to distance themselves from their parents or guardians and may shy away from sharing emotional experiences with family members. Although this is a normal part of adolescence, it can cause teens to feel misunderstood, isolated, and as if they have no one to talk to. This shift in behavior can also leave parents feeling concerned, disconnected, or unsure of how to support their teenager effectively. 

At River Oaks Psychology, our goal is to provide comprehensive support not only to teenagers but also to their families. By fostering a collaborative approach, we aim to bridge the gap between teenagers and their parents or guardians, creating a supportive network that promotes emotional well-being and enhances overall family dynamics. Building a strong relationship with a supportive therapist allows teens to feel like they always have someone on their side. Our therapists who specialize in working with adolescents employ evidence-based approaches tailored to the unique needs and developmental stages of teenagers. We provide guidance and support in areas such as self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, communication skills, stress management, decision-making, and goal-setting. 

For example, in sessions we work collaboratively with teenagers to identify and examine negative self-perceptions or self-limiting beliefs that may contribute to low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy. We assist teenagers in exploring alternative, more balanced perspectives about themselves and their abilities, and we explore and celebrate teenagers’ strengths, achievements, and unique qualities.  Our main goal is to empower teenagers to develop a stronger sense of self and to recognize their inherent worth, helping them build a foundation of confidence and resilience that extends beyond therapy. Above all, we want to provide a judgement-free zone so teens can truly grow up to become healthy, confident, thriving adults.

FAQ about Teen Therapy

For most parents or guardians, it can be confusing to understand how or why your teen may benefit from counseling. Most parents wonder, is therapy really necessary? We recognize that making a decision about therapy for a teen can be daunting, but we are here to help.

At River Oaks Psychology, we firmly believe that every teen can benefit from therapy, even in the absence of a specific “problem” that you may be noticing. In other words, therapy can be helpful for every teen simply because it increases their support system and provides another adult role model in their life.

Therapy offers a unique opportunity for teens to express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a safe and non-judgmental environment. It provides a dedicated space where they can explore their emotions, develop coping skills, and foster emotional resilience. Therapy serves as a valuable support system for teens, enhancing their overall well-being and growth.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no need for your teen to have an identifiable behavior problem or emotional disorder to benefit from counseling. Just as physical check-ups are essential for maintaining physical health, therapy can be viewed as a mental and emotional check-up for your teen. It allows them to develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and the tools necessary to navigate life’s challenges.

By engaging in therapy, your teen gains an additional trusted adult in their life who can offer guidance, support, and provide a different perspective. This can be particularly beneficial during critical stages of development, helping teens build resilience, self-confidence, and healthy coping strategies.

We understand that as a parent or guardian, you want the best for your teen. If you have any concerns or questions about whether your teen could benefit from therapy, we encourage you to reach out to our compassionate team at River Oaks Psychology. Together, we can determine the most appropriate support for your teen’s unique needs and provide them with the tools to thrive emotionally and psychologically.

Yes, there are signs that may indicate a need for therapy. While it is important to remember that every teen is unique and may have different needs, there are common indicators that suggest therapy could be beneficial. Here are some signs to consider:

Intense Emotional Distress: If a teenager experiences intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anger, anxiety, or irritability that interfere with their daily life, it may be a sign that therapy could help them navigate and manage these emotions effectively.

Excessive Worry or Anxiety: If a teenager frequently experiences excessive worry, irrational fears, panic attacks, or struggles with anxiety that interferes with their daily life and functioning, therapy can help them learn effective coping strategies and manage anxiety symptoms.

Depression or Persistent Sadness: If a teenager exhibits signs of sadness, tearfulness, or a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed, therapy can help explore and address underlying emotional factors, provide emotional support, and foster resilience.

Overwhelming Stress and Burnout: If a teenager consistently experiences high levels of stress, overwhelming responsibilities, and neglects to engage in activities that promote relaxation, self-care, and stress reduction, therapy can provide tools and strategies to manage stress and prevent burnout.

Behavioral Changes: Abrupt or noticeable changes in behavior, such as social withdrawal, sudden performance decline, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, or engaging in risky behaviors, may indicate the need for therapeutic support.

Academic or School-related Difficulties: If a teenager is struggling with academic performance, difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation, or experiencing bullying or peer conflicts at school, therapy can provide strategies for improving focus, resilience, and developing healthy coping mechanisms.

Relationship Issues: Teenagers may face challenges in developing and maintaining healthy relationships with peers, family members, or romantic partners. If there are ongoing conflicts, difficulties with communication, or a sense of isolation, therapy can help teens improve their interpersonal skills and navigate these relationships more effectively.

Family Transitions or Disruptions:  Changes in family dynamics, such as parental separation, divorce, blending of families, or significant conflicts within the family, can be challenging for teens to navigate. Therapy can provide support and guidance during these transitions.

Traumatic Experiences: Teenagers who have experienced trauma, such as abuse, neglect, loss of a loved one, or witnessing a distressing event, may benefit from therapy to process their emotions, develop coping strategies, and promote healing.

Self-Esteem Issues: Teens who exhibit low self-esteem, negative self-talk, feelings of inadequacy, or excessive self-criticism may benefit from therapy to build a healthy sense of self-worth and develop confidence.

Disordered Eating Habits: Any concerns in eating patterns, such as binging, purging, or restricting food, skipping meals, following abnormal eating patterns, or obsessive thoughts about eating, weight, or body image, can be indicators of disordered eating behaviors that typically require therapeutic support.

Impulse Control Issues:  Teens who struggle with impulse control, have difficulty following rules, display oppositional behavior, or engage in aggressive behaviors may benefit from therapy to develop appropriate coping strategies, emotional regulation skills, and improved behavioral management.

Substance Abuse or Addictive Behaviors: If a teenager is engaging in substance abuse or displaying addictive behaviors, therapy can help address the underlying issues contributing to these behaviors, develop coping mechanisms, and support their journey towards recovery.

Self-Harm or Suicidal Thoughts: Any signs of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or expressions of hopelessness and despair should be taken seriously and addressed promptly through therapy. A mental health professional can provide a safe space for teens to express their emotions and work towards finding healthier ways to cope.

Difficulties with Adjustment or Life Transitions: Teenagers may struggle with major life transitions such as parental divorce, relocation, changing schools, or adjusting to a new family dynamic. Therapy can provide support during these challenging times, helping them process their emotions and navigate the changes more effectively.

Attention and Concentration Problems: Teens who have persistent difficulty with attention, concentration, hyperactivity, impulsivity, or meeting developmental milestones in these areas may benefit from therapy to address attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other related concerns.

Obsessive Thoughts or Compulsive Behaviors: If a teenager experiences intrusive thoughts, uncontrollable worries, or engages in repetitive behaviors (e.g., excessive hand-washing, counting rituals), therapy can assist in managing symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and reducing the impact on daily life.

Changes in Sleep Patterns: Disturbed sleep patterns, such as insomnia, nightmares, or excessive sleeping, can be indicators of underlying emotional or psychological distress that can be addressed through therapy.

Physical Complaints without Medical Cause: Some teens express emotional distress through physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or other unexplained physical complaints. If these symptoms persist despite medical evaluations, therapy can address the underlying emotional causes.

Therapy can be highly beneficial for teens in numerous ways. Here are some ways in which therapy can help teens:

Providing a consistent, non-judgmental space: Therapy offers a safe and confidential environment where teens can express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without fear of judgment. This space allows them to explore their emotions and concerns openly.

Creating a positive connection to a trusted adult: The therapeutic relationship formed between a teenager and a therapist serves as a positive and supportive connection. This bond can enhance a teen’s sense of security and trust, providing a foundation for growth and healing.

Increasing feelings of interpersonal trust and protection: Through therapy, teens can develop trust in others, learn to establish healthy boundaries, and gain a sense of protection. This can positively impact their relationships and overall well-being.

Building confidence and self-esteem as teens grow up:  Therapy can help teens develop a positive self-image and build self-esteem. It encourages them to recognize their strengths, cope with challenges, and develop a sense of self-worth as they navigate their journey to adulthood.

Helping to understand challenges within a family: Family therapy or involving parents in the therapeutic process can help address family dynamics, improve communication, and strengthen relationships. This can lead to a more supportive and nurturing family environment for a teenager.

Exploring friendships or learning skills for making friends: Therapy can support teens in developing social skills, navigating friendships, and addressing any difficulties they may be facing in their social interactions. It provides a space to practice and learn effective communication and relationship-building skills.

Developing skills and strategies for handling school challenges: Therapy can assist teens in managing academic challenges, such as improving study skills, time management, and organizational strategies. It can also address issues like test anxiety, perfectionism, and motivation to enhance their academic performance.

Confronting issues such as bullying or peer pressure: Therapy can provide guidance and support to help teens navigate challenging situations like bullying, peer pressure, or conflicts with peers. It equips them with coping strategies, assertiveness skills, and self-advocacy techniques.

Talking about sensitive issues like puberty in a safe space: Therapy can create a safe and supportive space for teens to discuss sensitive topics like puberty, body changes, sexuality, and other age-appropriate concerns. It offers a platform for open dialogue and accurate information.

Overcoming school challenges such as academic concerns: Therapy can address academic concerns by identifying and addressing underlying issues that may be impacting a teen’s learning or performance. It can help them develop strategies to overcome obstacles and reach their full potential.

Fostering a healthy grieving process after experiencing a loss: Therapy can provide support and guidance to teens who have experienced loss or grief. It helps them navigate the grieving process, express their emotions, and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Creating behavior plans to help a teen control behavioral impulses: Therapy can help teens develop behavior plans tailored to their specific needs. It supports them in understanding and managing their impulses, developing self-control, and making positive choices.

Assessing for early signs of anxiety or depression: Therapy can help identify early signs of anxiety or depression in teens and provide appropriate interventions. It offers a platform to address and manage these challenges, promoting emotional well-being.

Improving communication skills and learning how to speak up: Therapy can enhance a teen’s communication skills, enabling them to express themselves assertively and effectively. It helps them develop the confidence and ability to advocate for their needs.

Confronting shyness, insecurities, or difficulty in social settings: Therapy can support teens in overcoming shyness, building social skills, and addressing insecurities. It provides a nurturing space to explore and develop self-confidence in social settings.

Adjusting to changes in routine, such as after a family divorce: Therapy can assist teens in navigating significant life changes such as family divorce or other disruptions in routine. It helps them process their emotions, adjust to the changes, and develop coping strategies.

Therapy for teens is a collaborative and individualized process, tailored to meet their unique needs and developmental stage. It offers support, guidance, and tools to help teens thrive emotionally, mentally, and socially.

Yes, therapy can definitely help your teenager with big questions. These questions often involve complex emotions and experiences that teens may struggle to understand or navigate on their own. In therapy, a skilled and compassionate therapist can provide a safe and supportive environment for your teen to explore these questions and find answers that are meaningful to them.

For example, therapy might help your teenager work through confusing questions such as:

  • What should I do after high school?
  • Why are my parents fighting all the time?
  • Why is it so hard to make friends?
  • Why does it feel like I don’t fit in?
  • How can I build greater self-confidence?
  • How do I know what I want to do with my life?
  • Why don’t my parents understand me?
  • Why am I not interested in things I used to like?
  • Why does going to school make me feel so anxious?
  • Why do I suddenly have concerns about my body?
  • Why does learning to drive make me feel so stressed?
  • What should I do about not having a date to the school dance?
  • Why are my siblings so annoying and always bothering me?
  • Why don’t my teachers understand that I’m trying my best?
  • How can I get more sleep and actually feel like I have energy?
  • How can I talk to my parents about my mental health?
  • How can I tell my friends that I don’t want to do certain things?
  • Why do I feel like I’m always getting in trouble?
  • How can I help my parents understand me better?
  • How can I get rid of my social anxiety and make friends?
  • Why do I feel so tired in the mornings?
  • How can I survive school when I hate it so much?
  • Why is it so hard to trust people?
  • Why are other kids at school so mean?
  • Why did someone I love leave me?
  • Why did someone hurt me?

Yes, we highly recommend that you attend the first appointment with your teenager at River Oaks Psychology. Building a strong foundation of open communication between you, your teen, and their therapist is essential for the success of therapy. By being present at the initial session, you have the opportunity to meet the therapist and establish a sense of rapport and trust. Your presence demonstrates your commitment to your teen’s well-being and helps create a supportive environment from the start. 

As a parent or guardian, you have valuable insights and information about your teen’s history, development, and current concerns. Your input can provide crucial context for the therapist and contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of your child’s needs. Open communication between you and the therapist ensures that everyone is working together towards the same goals. The first appointment also provides you with a supportive space to gain insights into the therapeutic process, understand the therapist’s approach, and ask any questions or address concerns you may have. It offers an opportunity for you to discuss your observations, share goals for therapy, and receive guidance on how to support your child outside of sessions.

At River Oaks Psychology, we believe in a collaborative and inclusive therapeutic environment. We value your involvement as a parent or guardian and recognize the importance of open communication between you, your teen, and the therapist. Together, we can work towards the well-being and growth of your teen.

Please note that any patient who is 18+ is a considered a legal adult and must provide their written permission to include a family member in therapy.

For all minors under 18 serving as “the patient” – whether for individual therapy or family therapy – we require informed consent from a designated parent/guardian with custodial rights. This means the designated parent/guardian with custody will be signing our electronic paperwork prior to the onset of treatment.

In addition, the designated parent/guardian will be listed as the patient’s Emergency Contact, and will also be considered as the one financially responsible. The credit card provided in the patient portal must belong to the parent/guardian.

If circumstances suggest that custodial rights may be in question (including but not limited to, if a minor has divorced parents/guardians, if a minor is not living with parents/guardians, if a minor is in foster care, among other circumstances), documentation of holding custodial rights must be provided (uploaded to the patient portal) prior to the onset of treatment. In a case where custody is split 50/50 between two people, consent to the minor’s therapy is required from both people. Proof of custody includes, but is not limited to: a custody order or affidavit of parenting agreements.

YES. However, please note that any patient who is 18+ is a considered a legal adult and must provide their written permission to include a family member in therapy.

While some teens prefer to have therapy without parents/guardians present, others would like their parents/guardians to be present, and we are happy to include them. We may also ask parents/guardians or other adults responsible for a teen’s welfare to become involved the treatment process with or without the teen present if we feel this is necessary for effective treatment. Sometimes this is necessary to gain further information and perspectives regarding behaviors, living arrangements, parenting styles, school experiences, and other matters.

Most importantly, we want all parents/guardians to know that we are accessible and happy to communicate with you at any point during the treatment process. We recognize how important your teen’s wellness is to you, and we are committed to making this process as positive as possible for your family. However, patients who are age 18+ must provide their written permission to include a family member in therapy.

If you have any questions, concerns, or general thoughts about the process, we encourage you to contact us.

YES. Parents/guardians with custodial rights are legally entitled to some information about their child’s therapy. At the same time, some teens may need to discuss sensitive information with their therapist that they do not want their parents/guardians to know about. We will inform you of the information which may be provided to parents/guardians and which issues are more appropriately kept confidential between the patient and therapist.

It is common for some parents/guardians to worry about conversations happening between their teen and the therapist without their knowledge and some parents/guardians fear that “secrets” will undermine their relationship with their teen. However, we ask that parents/guardians remember how critical it is for a teenager to feel safe openly disclosing their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to a therapist without fear of consequences. When teens can openly share personal experiences in therapy, their relationship with others, including their parents/guardians, will likely improve.

At River Oaks Psychology, we do our very best to respect what teens feel most comfortable with while simultaneously honoring parents/guardians and their right to know general information about treatment.

Please note that any patient who is 18+ is a considered a legal adult and must provide their written permission to include a family member in therapy.

It is not uncommon for teens to feel nervous or anxious about therapy, especially if it’s their first time or they’re unsure about what to expect. At River Oaks Psychology, we understand and empathize with these concerns, and we strive to create a comfortable and supportive environment for your teen. Here are some ways to address your child’s nervousness:

First, it is important to validate your teen’s feelings. Let them know that it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous or unsure about therapy. Reassure them that many teens feel the same way and that their therapist is here to help and support them.

Communication is key. Have an open and honest conversation with your teen about why therapy can be beneficial. Explain that therapy is a safe space where they can talk about their thoughts, feelings, and concerns without judgment. Assure them that the therapist is there to listen, understand, and help them feel better.

Familiarize your teen with the therapy process. Take the time to explain what typically happens in a therapy session, such as talking with the therapist and working together to find solutions. Emphasize that the therapist is a caring and understanding professional who is trained to help people navigate their challenges.

Address any specific worries your teen may have. Take the opportunity to address their concerns and provide reassurance. Let them know that therapy is a collaborative process, and their therapist will work with them to set goals and find strategies to overcome difficulties.

If your teen continues to feel nervous, encourage them to ask questions. This can help alleviate their concerns and provide them with a better understanding of what to expect. Additionally, remind your teen that they have control over their therapy experience and can express their preferences and boundaries to the therapist.

Our team at River Oaks Psychology is dedicated to creating a warm, welcoming, and teen-friendly environment. Our therapists are experienced in working with teenagers and are skilled in putting them at ease. We will take the time to build rapport and establish a trusting relationship with your teen, ensuring that they feel comfortable and supported throughout their therapeutic journey.

Teens and Telehealth

Telehealth is often an excellent choice for teenagers for several reasons:

  • Teens are more skilled in electronic devices today than ever before. They have grown up feeling comfortable on screen. It’s their world, their knowledge base, and their digital playground. When therapists meet tech-savvy teens on screen, it’s comparable to stepping out of a foreign role and truly shifting gears to speak the language of the patient.
  • Online therapy allows teens to feel more comfortable in therapy. For many teens, going to a traditional office setting brings anxiety and discomfort. Going to an unfamiliar location, waiting in a waiting room, and then entering a small office to talk with a therapist is usually not the best way for a teenager to feel comfortable. In contrast, virtually bringing therapy into a teen’s home environment usually makes the process easier. When teens feel comfortable online at home, we are able to gain a clearer understanding of who they are and how we can help them.
  • Online therapy allows for flexible scheduling. Teenagers lead busy lives, juggling academics, extracurricular activities, and social commitments. Telehealth offers greater flexibility in scheduling therapy sessions, allowing teenagers to find times that work best for them without interrupting their daily routines.
  • Online therapy allows teens to “show and tell” about their homes and lives. It can be very therapeutic for teens to show a therapist their home or let the therapist see their bedrooms, school projects, the family living room, Christmas tree, Halloween pumpkins, and so on. It helps to feel “seen” and “understood,” building stronger trust in the therapeutic relationship.
  • Online therapy can provide teens greater independence without having to rely on a parent or guardian to drive them to a traditional office. Most teens are tech-savvy enough to log on to a computer, tablet, or phone and access a link to their therapy appointment. This increased independence and ability to take ownership over their wellness can help improve their confidence and self-esteem. It also helps to foster a lifelong commitment to taking their mental health and wellness into their own hands.
  • Online therapy allows teens to grab a favorite pillow, cozy blanket, or any other personal comfort items. Need low-lighting or a bright-lit space? Your choice! Want to stay in pajamas? Totally fine – we never judge. This type of personalization is not possible when visiting an office. We encourage kids to gather whatever they need to make sessions feel as comfortable as possible.

Teens deserve to feel empowered, confident, and ready to take on the world.