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When to Seek Counseling for Your Teen

When to Seek Counseling for Your Teen

The teenage years are no walk in the park, even for the best kids. Hormones are going crazy, and social relationships shift and change. When you have a teen, you may wonder what’s normal and when you need to seek the help of a professional counselor.

Certain behaviors and signs are clues that you need to seek counseling for your teen. They may not initially want to go, but a good therapist can usually get even reluctant teens to open up. 

Take a moment as Dr. Judy E. Vansiea of Coping Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry Services, PC explains more about the signs that may indicate whether you need to seek counseling for your teen.

What causes the normal teenage turmoil?

Teenagers go through a lot of big changes. Part of that is because of the hormones swirling through their bodies, of course. But adolescent mental health is especially challenging for other reasons as well.

Teenagers begin to realize the fragility of life, in part because of the loss of their childhood selves. They notice the aging process of the others in their lives, like their parents and grandparents. 

This awareness of their own vulnerability tends to darken their outlooks, which may have been sunny just a few years earlier.

They’re also working on establishing a unique sense of their own identities and separating from their family of origin. Add in the social pressure they face, including possible bullying, and it’s understandable why this is such a difficult time.

Some signs that your teen needs counseling

Even despite all of these developmental changes, most teens come through these years more or less intact. But there are some signs that your teen is in a situation beyond what they can handle alone, when you should seek counseling. Some of those signs include:

Self-harm

Self-harming behaviors are one sure sign that your teen is dealing with something beyond what they can handle. Self-harm may include behaviors like cutting or burning themselves. But self-harm can also mean failure to eat regularly or purging after meals. 

Self-harm behaviors can become addictive because they provide temporary relief of difficult feelings, so they definitely warrant further evaluation.

Failing in school

Especially if your teen has been a good student, suddenly failing their classes can indicate a bigger problem. Maybe your teen is suffering from depression, leaving them less able to put effort into their classes. Or maybe they have an undiagnosed learning disorder like ADHD.

Regardless of the cause, suddenly failing in school can be a sign of a bigger problem. It’s a good idea to seek a professional consultation to find out what’s going on.

Substance abuse

If your teen comes home once or twice having drank too much or gotten high, maybe you can chalk it up to experimentation. But if they’re regularly getting drunk or high, they might have a problem. Especially if there is a family history of alcoholism or drug addiction, you need to intervene now.

Talk about suicide

Many well-intentioned parents dismiss it when their teens make suicidal comments. They might assume that their kids are just being overly dramatic or overreacting to temporary stressors. But this is a mistake, one based on a pretty big gamble.

If your teenager makes suicidal comments, you must take them seriously. Get an appointment with a professional for an evaluation right away. They may need medication and some therapy with a caring person who wants to help them.

If your teenager is showing any signs of needing professional counseling, don’t feel embarrassed. If you think they may be too shy about counseling, you can always try making a contract with them to attend a certain number of sessions. 

They may also appreciate the fact that we offer telehealth appointments so they can attend counseling from home. Contact Dr. Judy E. Vansiea of Coping Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry Services or request an appointment online.

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