Individual therapy with adolescents often looks different from therapy with younger children. With young children, parents are an essential part of the treatment process. As they have the potential to affect great change in a child’s behavior, individual therapy is provided in conjunction with parent sessions and support. As children get older and transition to middle and high school, they often desire an increased need for privacy. While we consult with parents at all stages of the process, with teens, we balance this communication with their need to have a safe place they can talk about issues they may not wish to share with parents, siblings, teachers, or friends. Using evidence-based techniques, our main goal is to help teens learn and be able to utilize new coping strategies to treat anxiety (social anxiety, generalized anxiety, test anxiety, phobias and fears), OCD, mood concerns, PTSD, eating disorders, interpersonal stressors, and peer pressure.
Our team knows that each adolescent is unique. By having an initial discussion with parents by phone, our psychologists will work with you to ensure your teen is connected with a therapist that will be a good fit for him/her. This will depend on the presenting concerns, as well as the personality of your teen. In order for therapy to be successful, there are many steps we believe to be essential:
- Building Trust and Establishing a Relationship – Our psychologists are especially skilled at developing comfortable, safe relationships. Depending on the teen’s interests and openness to the process, we engage them through conversation, and, at times, participation in their favorite activities. While therapy typically occurs in the office, there are times when outside activities are utilized, particularly when the goal of therapy is related to anxiety and fear. This process of engagement brings about a relaxed atmosphere, which sets the stage for open and honest discussions.
- Setting Objective Goals – Once we establish trust and teens are motivated to engage in the therapy process, we work with them and their parents to set goals for their treatment.
- Strategies for Change – After establishing treatment goals, we determine the best treatment approach. As children get older, some progress simply by having a therapist to talk to about peers, school stressors, etc. Others require a more structured approach whereby the therapist helps them identify and then replace maladaptive thought and behavioral patterns in order to help them reach their goals. No matter the approach, our main goal is to focus and build upon a teen’s strengths.