Just For Teens – Understanding Counseling

co-parent counseling, family therapy, family therapist, teen therapy, child therapy, parent counseling, anxiety, marriage counseling

Maybe you’ve decided you’d really like to talk with someone other than your parents or school counselor about some of the things going on in your life. Or maybe you’ve been asked if you need or want to “talk with someone.” Sometimes the idea of having your own personal expert sounds good. But sometimes – especially if going to counseling wasn’t originally your idea – it feels like an attempted “fix.” And if you don’t know what to expect, the idea might be uncomfortable.

This page is just for you to learn more about what therapy is and what it isn’t and to tell you a little more about me.

What is therapy?

Whether you call it counseling or therapy, it’s basically about learning about yourself. Life is full of expectations and choices.  We do get a lot of input from others – parents, friends, teachers, coaches, media and while this can be a good thing, it can also feel like pressure.   As a teen, your job is to sort it out and come up with a more secure picture of yourself as an independent person. That can be hard for anyone, but today’s teens have a lot of pressure not only to figure things out but to be high achievers. I’m an expert in managing anxiety and expectations.  I listen objectively whether you just want to vent (which can feel pretty good sometimes) or learn different ways to look at things, solve problems or deal with stress.

What does a therapist do?

As a therapist I’m there to be a listener, a mentor and coach (note I didn’t say a parent!) I’m there to help you see the patterns and possibilities, not just pressures and problems. What I don’t do is “fix” or “cure.” Change is up to you.  I am not a magician and I can’t read minds but I can provide information, support and expertise to help you make decisions or changes in your life that will leave you feeling better and more confident.

What happens in therapy?

Here’s what a first session generally looks like:

  • I will answer questions you might have about my background, education, views as a therapist, etc.
  • I will show you my office which includes a lot of art supplies, games and fidgets (because I believe that we don’t always communicate with words so it helps to do so in other ways.)
  • I will ask you a few questions about what brings you to therapy and what you’d like to get out of it. (Often you might not know, so that may be what we need to figure out.)
  • I will listen and if appropriate, give you feedback about the few things you shared.
  • You will go home.

Why would I see a therapist?

Some reasons to come see me (whether by choice or because your parents want you to) are:

  • To talk about things that are frustrating, confusing or uncomfortable including friends, peer pressure, parents, school, or anything else
  • To get a (non-related) adult’s perspective on your situation
  • To work through a problem that you don’t want to talk with parents and maybe even your friends about
  • To work through a problem that seems to never go away
  • To better understand yourself (how you think and learn, self-esteem, self-confidence)
  • To understand and manage feelings of frustration, anxiety and/or depression

What if I don’t want to go?

There’s nothing unusual about this feeling. Many teens are confused when their parents or a school counselor suggest therapy and don’t understand why they’re being sent. I don’t blame you! Especially since is a lot of confusion about what therapy is all about. Change often feels uncomfortable. You’re ok with things as they are (even if your parents and other grown-ups aren’t). Then there are all those unflattering tv shows and movies about therapy! It’s easy think of therapy as negative and only for people who have something “wrong with them.”

So what’s the truth? Look at it this way, Albert Einstein once said that the definition of “crazy” was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That’s pretty much what most of us do unfortunately. Therapy is about doing something different; about looking at what’s happening, seeing the patterns and making and testing out different ways to see and respond to people or events so that things do become easier, more comfortable, better.

How long do I have to go?

As I said before therapy doesn’t use magic so it varies. Certainly if its not working for you, then that’s something to talk about with me. Remember, change is up to you. If you’re motivated to make things work, then our work together goes pretty quickly. Other times, you might need longer term support. I will work with you and offer my recommendations, but over all, how long you stay in therapy is really up to you and your parents.

What will my friends think?

You don’t have to hide the fact that you’re going to a therapist, but you also don’t have to tell anyone if you’d prefer not to. Some people find that talking to a few close friends about their therapy helps them to work out their problems and feel like they’re not alone. Other people choose not to tell anyone, especially if they feel that others won’t understand. Either way, it’s up to you.

How private is it?

Therapists respect the privacy of their clients and they keep things they’re told confidential. I won’t tell anyone else — including your parents — about you say in your sessions without written permission. The only exception is if I believe a client may harm themselves or others – then I may need to break confidentiality to keep you safe. If the issue of privacy and confidentiality worries you, be sure to ask me about it during your first meeting. It’s important to feel comfortable with me so you can talk openly during our sessions.

Just know that I respect your confidentiality so much that if I see you on the street or in a store I won’t say anything and may not even appear to recognize you. That’s because I want to leave it up to you to decide. If you decide to say hello, then great! I’ll say ‘hi’ but if not, then we’re just two strangers passing in the store with no hard feelings.

What kinds of things can I talk about in therapy?

Whatever you want to talk about! In therapy, you really do have a private place to discuss whatever is on your mind.

About Jeannette

Sure you can go read my “About Jeannette” page but I thought I’d tell you a little about myself here as well. I’m a pretty curious person. I like to think about stuff and explore it. That doesn’t mean I’m nosy, just that I like doing my research. I also like a lot of the same things you might – hanging out with friends, shopping, doing art, playing lots of different kinds of games including action and roleplaying videogames, watching The Big Bang Theory, Star Wars and Marvel movies and enjoying my pets (I have two dogs and a cat). Most of all I like finding creative ways to help kids and teens feel comfortable in learning about themselves. This is really important because our lives are so busy and we’re surrounded by so much anxiety that it can be really hard to do and that’s why we often feel uncomfortable, don’t like change or want to avoid it.

I have a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and I’m licensed by the State of California.

About Jeannette

Jeannette Harroun is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist/Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor in Lafayette, CA specializing in child, teen, parent and family support.
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Contact Details

3468 Mt. Diablo Blvd, #B301 (Mail: #B201)

Lafayette, CA 94549



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