Mental health is just as important as physical health, and sometimes teenagers suffer in silence, unsure what’s wrong or how to ask for help. An estimated 20% of teens struggle with a mental health issue. That may be anxiety, depression, ADHD, an eating disorder, or something else. Regardless of the specific issue, that’s one out of every five teenagers who would benefit from getting help for mental health through a treatment option such as Christian counseling for teens.And other young people perhaps wouldn’t fit into that statistic, but who have their own struggles. Perhaps it’s not a diagnosable condition that causes serious disruption to their daily lives, but it’s causing them distress. It could be social problems, rejection, life transitions, changes within the family, grief, or loss, etc.
And teens, just like adults, can often be intimidated by the thought of going to counseling, but it doesn’t have to be that way. While it can be a challenge to overcome the hurdle of meeting a counselor for the first time, it’s worth it to address mental health issues in teen counseling. Teens and parents can browse the online counselor directory at [Christian Counseling] to see the options for a counselor who will be a good fit for their needs.
Why Christian counseling for teens?
Adolescence is a time of huge upheaval and pressures from all directions. Teens’ brains and bodies are still developing. They might resemble adults and are often expected to act like adults, but that doesn’t mean they can handle life and its stressors in a healthy way when they become overwhelmed.
Like adults, teens are at risk for anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and having health issues stemming from stress. And while teens are always developing in their capacity for self-understanding and personal identity, they don’t always know how to communicate their experiences effectively, or people in their lives might not pick up on the signals.
So, a teenager struggling with anxiety or depression might feel lonely or misunderstood. They may not have developed healthy coping mechanisms, whether by nature or nurture, which enable them to survive and thrive. They also might not recognize that many people feel the way they do, and any shame they have is misplaced.
Christian counseling and therapy for teens provide a safe and compassionate setting, where a teenager can connect with a professional counselor who understands their developmental timeline and the challenges they face.
Counselors for teens are also trained to connect with and involve the parent(s) in goals for treatment. Teen issues don’t occur in a vacuum. Family counseling, individual counseling, or both, may help address the issues of concern for your teen, and give them the best chance at a successful response to counseling.
Common issues addressed in counseling for teens
Mental health treatment is often stigmatized, especially in Christian settings, but that’s an unfortunate reality. Just like with counseling for adults, teens can sometimes carry a stigma when it comes to seeking mental health treatment. Going to counseling can feel like it implies that you are broken, crazy, or both. But the truth is that just as God provides resources for us to care for our physical health (healthy food and exercise as well as doctors and medicine), so he also provides mental health resources.
Christian counseling happens when a faith-based worldview is integrated with proven techniques from psychology that can offer real healing and change for mental health struggles. Teens should be reassured that counseling is there to help, not label or put them in a box. Confidentiality is maintained except in cases of potential harm.
Here are some of the most common reasons to seek counseling for teenagers or young adults.
Prevention for minor concerns
You don’t have to have a life-altering problem to consider teen therapy. Sometimes, you might want to address a more minor issue before it affects your teen’s quality of life or sets them on a bad trajectory. For example, perhaps your teen has struggled with insomnia or anxiety for years, but they are still functioning moderately well in their daily routine; however, you know this issue causes them distress.
Addressing a concern like moderate, ongoing insomnia, while consulting your child’s physician if necessary, can help set your teenager on a healthier path and prepare them for a bright future now. Sometimes when you wait to address problems, it can be more difficult to solve them years down the road, when patterns have already become entrenched.
Depression and anxiety
Depression and anxiety are unfortunately common in teens. According to Mental Health America, suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens. Depression in teens should be taken seriously. 70% of teens report that anxiety and depression are serious problems among their peers. (MHA)
Sometimes adults attribute a teen’s mood disorder to simple moodiness or changing hormones, but teen depression and anxiety can eventually lead to a crisis if not addressed. There is hope for young people who struggle with depression and anxiety; they can heal and improve. Talk to a counselor today.
Behavior problemsWhen teens are acting out in some way, whether by causing problems in school, at home, or elsewhere, parents or guardians often reach out for help from professionals. It’s a good first step to recognize that you can’t handle this on your own. Christian teen counselors can work with school counselors, doctors, and other professionals where necessary, to make sure that a troubled teen gets the help he or she needs.
Stress affects teens disproportionately; one study has found that 31% of teens reported being overwhelmed, with stress levels on average higher than adults. Counseling can help teens and their parents learn how to manage stress levels, eliminate stressors wherever possible, and develop positive coping mechanisms so that stress becomes a source of growth instead of causing more problems.
Trauma and grief
Just like all humans across every age category, teens are susceptible to trauma and grief from traumatic events or losses. Combining trauma or loss with the developmental upheaval of adolescence can be a recipe for disaster; make sure the young person in your life is supported through difficulty, instead of being isolated.
What are red flags to watch out for in teens?
If you are a parent, teacher, social worker, youth pastor, or another supportive figure in a teenager’s life, please learn the red flags of serious depression in teens. The website Healthy Children outlines some specific behaviors that should raise concern.
When considering this list, think about whether the behavior is excessive, has significantly changed in recent weeks or months, or was triggered by a particular event. Of course, all teens – and people in general – will have their times of sadness, discouragement, and loneliness. But it’s vital to be attentive to the red flags that a teen is struggling, because they may not know how to communicate it, or they might be afraid to ask for help.
Here are red flags for teen depression or other problems:
- Being unusually isolated from family and/or friends. (Example: wanting to stay in their room for the majority of every day when they are home.)
- Self-harming behaviors or making references to those behaviors.
- Making comments about being hopeless or feeling worthless.
- Moodiness and crying.
- Paranoia and secrecy.
- Unusual weight loss or gain.
- Unusual changes in sleeping patterns.
If you know a young person exhibiting these behaviors, especially several of them at once, please reach out for help today.
What happens in teen counseling?
Your teen’s comfort level is important in counseling. Many teenagers are hesitant to talk to a stranger about their personal problems, but the counselors at Seattle Christian Counseling are trained and experienced in teen counseling. Christian counseling for teens is a process, and change takes time. Young people can be assured that it’s normal to feel uncertain or apprehensive about the counseling process and that they can participate in sessions at their own pace.
What are some examples of therapies that might be used with teens? Whether it’s counseling for anxiety, depression, anger management, behavior problems, eating issues, or something else, some frequently used therapies for teens include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), family therapy, Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), psychodynamic psychotherapy, and supportive therapy.
“Psychodynamic psychotherapies are based on the assumption that a child’s behavior and feelings will improve once the inner struggles are brought to light.” (AACAP) This is one example of the type of technique that may guide your child’s treatment plan.
In Christian counseling, a counselor is not there to control a teen’s beliefs or behavior. The role that faith plays in the sessions will vary based on the individual, but all counseling at [Christian Counseling] is informed by each counselor’s faith in God and trust in Scripture – not to offer quick fixes or easy answers, but compassionate support and the promise of God’s presence even in hard times.
Confidentiality is important to teens in many cases. The counselor is not there to impede the parent-child relationship, but to offer a safe setting for a young person to be themselves and experience healing and positive change.
Please discuss any confidentiality concerns you may have with your counselor. All counselors are required by law to disclose any information regarding actual or potential harm to the teen or someone else.
Christian Counseling for Teens
Contact us today to schedule a risk-free session to discuss your concerns and treatment goals. You can also browse our directory of qualified counselors or contact us online today.
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