Teens & Parents

You’re here because you’re losing sleep at night worrying about your teenager. You see signs that your child is struggling: spending more time in their bedroom; snapping more easily; sleeping more than usual; or showing less interest in things they normally enjoy. You’ve tried talking to your child about what you’re seeing, but you’re met with shrugs and utterances of “I’m fine.”

Let’s start by taking you off the hook for the fact your child is struggling right now.

It’s actually perfectly common for the teenage years to erupt in emotional chaos…even if you did everything “just right.” You are in great company of many other parents who have done their absolute best and are still in this exact same boat of finding a therapist to help your child.

As children grow into tweens and teens, they tend to pull away from their parents. They talk way more to their friends on the phone than they do at the dinner table. You’re doing your best to keep up with all of the different social media apps that occupy so much of your child’s time so that you can relate – but you’re still feeling left out of your child’s world.

There are many factors that cause teens to develop anxiety and other mental health issues. Bullying, social media, academic pressure, and massive changes to daily life due to COVID-19 have led kids to feel stressed, anxious, and scared.

Appropriate fears and worries have turned into big fears and unmanageable anxieties – even though you have tried your hardest to protect your child and help them feel safe.

Common struggles we hear about from teens & parents:

Schoolwork and academic pressure

Behavioral and mood changes since the COVID-19 pandemic

Difficulty making decisions about the future

Panic attacks

Low self-esteem

Self-harm

Bullying at school

Drama on social media

Constant worrying

Social anxiety

How I help parents:

Parenting a teen is so hard in today’s world. There’s no rulebook for the challenges of parenting during a global pandemic and in an age where the technology our teens use evolves by the day. Just when you think you’ve figured something out, things have already changed again.

Teens are struggling, and finding the right help can feel exhausting, defeating, and overwhelming. You may have been on waiting lists for months, only to find that when your teen did finally start therapy, the connection wasn’t there. Or, this might be your first time seeking therapy for your child, and the whole process feels nerve-wracking and uncertain.

I get it. And I’m here to help walk you through every step of the process.

Parents bring their teens here when they feel like they’ve tried everything, and nothing is working. Change is truly possible with the right support (it’s why I love what we do).

Here’s how I can help teens:

I let teens know that I’ve heard just about every awkward, embarrassing, scary, or strange thought that a person can have, and that we can put it all on the table in here. When kids have the opportunity to get things off their chest with a neutral person who can normalize what they are feeling, it provides immense relief for them.

I know from the past decade working with teens that in order for me to help your child, therapy needs to feel like a comfortable conversation. A trusting, genuine, and caring relationship is essential for good work to happen. For this reason, you will find that I am intentionally laid back. I am not a “therapisty therapist” who stare at your child over a clipboard and ask them “how does that make you feel?” Weekly sessions often start with a review of what we’re watching on Netflix or TikTok.

My practice stays up-to-date on current trends in teen mental health and provides a relaxed atmosphere to promote a sense of comfort and safety.

In therapy, I work with teens and their families to learn skills to communicate better and feel better.

It can be helpful to invite parents into sessions to support their teen’s work in therapy, or to work through any specific issues affecting the family as a whole.

My primary focus is to work individually with your teen. I provide a space for them to say all of the hard things that have been bothering them; teach them skills to help them feel better; and ultimately, help them talk to you about how they feel so you can feel more included in their life.

Another part of my practice is working individually with parents seeking support in managing the stress of parenting a child with mental health needs. If your child already has a therapist, it can be helpful for parents to seek their own space to talk things through and receive coaching about different parenting strategies. I am happy to collaborate with other providers or therapists you work with.

What actually happens when I drop my child off, and how will I be included in the process?

Parents are the most important people in teens’ lives. Your perspective is invaluable, because you know your child better than anyone.

I also know how important it is for our teens to trust the therapeutic process. I don’t just “talk the talk” about confidentiality – when I tell teens what they talk to us about stays between us – I stick to that.

In order to honor both the needs of our teens and our parents, I have dedicated systems in place that both protect your child’s right to confidentiality, while also keeping you included and an active part of your child’s treatment.

The First Session

If you are the parent of a child you are bringing to therapy, the first session will start with parent/guardian(s) and your child talking together about the reasons for seeking treatment and goals for therapy. Some teens are ready for their parents to leave the room after a brief introduction. Others prefer the comfort and support of their parent for the entirety of the first session. Subsequent sessions are usually just with your child, although if it increases you child’s comfort to include a parent in therapy, that is an option as well. This process is tailored to the unique needs of your family.

There are times where parents would like to provide more information about their child and family without their teen present. In this case, we can schedule a separate meeting for parents only; however, this is done with the knowledge and permission of your teen, and we will let your teen know an overview of what is discussed. Transparency is important in order to honor your child’s trust in the therapy room, and it is typically suggested that meetings take place with everyone present.

Treatment Planning and Family Meetings

We will formulate a treatment plan at the start of treatment and will come together with parent(s) and child to review how things are going approximately every four months, depending on session frequency and how treatment is going. You are welcome to request more frequent family meetings if this is something that you would prefer. I respect and value your time and investment as a parent into bringing your child to therapy and the financial aspects of this process; if your child is not benefitting from therapy and progress is not being made, this will be communicated to you.

Email Communication between Sessions

You are free to email anytime with questions, concerns, or updates about how your child is doing. Ongoing parent perspective is a very helpful part of your child’s treatment. If I don’t hear from you, you can expect that I will reach out to you at least every few weeks via email to touch base about how things are going for your child at home and school. In order to preserve trust in therapy with your child, typically only general updates will be provided about things we are working on in therapy (i.e. social skills, coping skills, etc.) and general information about how your child is responding in therapy.

Detailed information about topics that your child is disclosing in therapy will not be provided without your child’s knowledge and consent, as this can potentially lead your child to feel less trusting of therapeutic relationship and be a deterrent to continuing to do good work together. However, there are times that I may suggest to your child that we talk together about topics where parent involvement could be helpful. Please note that if there is ever a major concern pertaining to your child’s safety (outlined in detail in confidentiality section of professional service agreement), you will be notified immediately.

Did I miss anything? Email barbshepard@counselingsecure.com with ANY questions.
No question is a silly question when it comes to your child’s well-being.

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