Counselling For Teens Age 13 Upwards –
Are You Worried About Your Teen, And Unsure How To Help Them?
- Is your teen having trouble adjusting to recent life-changes, either in the family or at school?
- Maybe they seem to be constantly anxious, or very low, or suffering extreme mood-swings.
- Perhaps you’ve noticed a sudden change in your teen. They’ve become withdrawn, or angry and violent, or there’s been a marked drop in their grades at school.
- You might suspect (or know about) bullying, or self-harm, or eating problems… but your teen won’t talk to you about it.
- Maybe you’re worried because they’re involved with alcohol or drugs, or acting in other ways that you feel are risky.
- You may have tried everything you can think of to help – but nothing seems to be getting through.
Being A Teenager Isn’t Easy…
Young people have a lot to deal with: family, relationships, sexuality, school, exams. They have to manage any problems at the same time as establishing a new identity as a young adult – at a stage when they have relatively little control over their life situation. And these days there are also complex online and social media worlds to negotiate, which often present issues of their own.
Alongside all this, during early adolescence the brain grows over a billion new neurons. This has huge potential – it makes teenagers some of the most creative, dynamic, fast-learning people on the planet. But it also comes with complications, because the logical, ‘sensible’ part of their brain won’t be fully developed till their early twenties. This leaves teens like turbo-charged sports cars without any brakes.
Then there are wildly fluctuating hormones and correspondingly intense emotions. Add these into the mix, and it means that teenagers can be intuitive, passionate and brave – but also impulsive, aggressive and reckless.
…Sometimes It Can All Become Too Much
Unsurprisingly, young people can feel overwhelmed at times. They may struggle to manage risk and stress, or to find a sense of who they are, or to develop the self-esteem and resilience they will need in order to navigate adult life. They may well feel inadequate or ashamed at not being able to cope.
And yet, it’s not at all uncommon. Recent research has shown that 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year. And more than a third of teenage girls have been or are depressed before the age of 17.
Your Teen Can Get Back On Track – And Counselling Can Help
Counselling can help your teen untangle some of this. It offers a chance for young people to get curious about themselves, in a very different way than they normally do in conversations with peers, parents or other adults. They can begin to identify their strengths; consider their priorities; name their fears; discover new solutions.
As they start to understand themselves better, they can learn to harness the huge potential of their adolescent brain, and channel their natural energy in a more constructive way.
I have worked with teenagers both as a teacher and as a counsellor. My young clients come from in and around Hereford, Brecon, Builth Wells, Kington and Leominster, from all sorts of backgrounds. I’ve seen both how tough life can be for teens – and what an incredible capacity they have for change. I know that with the right help even struggling teens can become more capable and confident in themselves, and more stable and resilient in the face of future challenges.
Perhaps you’re considering counselling for your teen, but you still have some questions and concerns…
“I Should Be Able To Help Them Myself”
Many parents find it difficult to think of asking someone else to help their child. You may wonder what ‘went wrong’, or if you could somehow ‘fix’ things if you did something differently next time. You may even feel incapable or embarrassed that things seem to be going so badly for your child.
But part of normal adolescent brain development is a disengagement from – and sometimes a powerful rejection of – parental influence. This means that very often, parents are the last people teenagers are able to listen to.
That’s where counselling can be helpful. When your teen is able to talk to someone outside of their normal family and social circles, they can be more receptive to the possibility of change. They can start to think through new approaches to themselves and their own behaviours. And in the process, there’s also space for them to look at their relationship with you and other family members – and begin to soften and repair where appropriate.
“How Will I Be Involved In My Teen’s Counselling?”
You will probably be quite involved in certain practical aspects of counselling, such as providing funding, and ensuring your teen can attend regularly.
On the other hand, sessions will normally be held just between myself and your teen, and I don’t ‘report back’ to parents regarding what we talk about. It’s a very important part of counselling young people that they can rely on their sessions remaining confidential.
However, I will ask you to join the beginning of our first session. This enables you to see the counselling environment and know who your child is talking to each week. And it’s a chance for you to describe how you see your child’s difficulties, and your own goals and expectations from counselling. Your teen and I can then take account of that in our work together.
“My Teen Doesn’t Want To See A Counsellor”
For many teenagers, few things are less appealing than talking to an adult! So it’s natural that your teen might approach the prospect of counselling with some reluctance. One of the most important parts of working with teenagers is therefore to allow some initial time and space for building a relationship where they can trust that their views will be respected.
Once your teen sees that counselling is a safe space for them to talk, then the focus can shift. Every living thing has a natural impulse to reach for connection and growth. Counselling for teens is essentially about engaging them in a process of learning about themselves, in a way that facilitates this natural movement towards positive change.
As your teen begins to understand what ‘makes them tick’, they can start to better manage their own thoughts and emotions, and learn the skills they need for building successful relationships and coping independently in future.
“Sarah’s passion and authenticity for providing support to her young clients showed through the minute I met her. She is a truly dedicated counsellor and I highly recommend her.”
Saskia Benette, MBACP (Reg), NCS (Accred) – Counsellor
What Do I Do Next?
Your teen can get through their difficulties. If you live in or near Hereford, Brecon, Builth Wells, Kington or Leominster then you’re probably less than 30 minutes from the Hay Counselling office. Contact me to book a first session together.