Just for Teens
Therapy FAQ for teens
Maybe you’ve decided you’d really like to talk with someone other than your parents 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 someone else to talk with 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.
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, social media – and while this can be a good thing, it can also feel like pressure to change into someone or something you’re not. 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 am here to be your advocate and help you figure out who you are and what you want. I do this by listening objectively and without judgment whether you just want to vent (which can feel pretty good sometimes), see things differently, have a problem to solve or deal with stress.
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.
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.
There’s nothing unusual about this feeling. You may disagree or feel confused when your parents or a school counselor suggest therapy. I don’t blame you! Especially since it is a lot of confusion about what therapy is all about. Change often feels uncomfortable, and you may be ok with things as they are (even if your parents and other adults aren’t). Then there are all those unflattering TV shows and movies about therapy! It’s easy to 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Whatever you want to talk about! I’ve talked with clients about everything from video games and school to dealing with friendship and family challenges. In therapy, you really do have a private place to discuss whatever is on your mind.