January 4, 2023

How To Begin Seeking Professional Help For A Troubled Teen

Most parents hope their children will become happy and successful adults. For those struggling with a troubled teen, however, the future can be more challenging to predict.

Whether your child is experiencing depression or anxiety, substance abuse, or self-harming behaviors, therapy can help them work through their problems and set them on the path toward a stable life.

If you suspect your child might benefit from professional help for troubled teens, here are some steps to take.

Seeking Professional Help for a Troubled Teen

One of the most beneficial things to do when a teen shows signs of a problem is to seek professional help. Although it can be scary, it's important that you take this step to ensure that your teen can get the help they need.

There are many different types of therapy, but some therapists specialize in working with teens who have had traumatic experiences or behavioral issues. These therapists often focus on helping people understand why they feel a certain way and how they should deal with these feelings productively instead of letting them get out of control and cause problems for themselves or others around them. 

They may also help your child learn coping skills and how to express their feelings appropriately.

Identify Changes in Personality or Behavior

Before reaching out to a professional, consider why you feel your child might benefit from therapy. Have you noticed changes in your child’s personality or behavior? 

Although behavioral changes are not always a sign of something more serious, it can sometimes be a cry for help. Here are some things to consider if you notice changes in your child’s personality or behavior:

  • Changes in how they interact with you, such as not wanting to spend time together or getting annoyed if you ask them questions like, “What did you do today?” or, “How was school?”
  • Changes in their attitude towards school, friends, and family members (i.e., they may be less enthusiastic about spending time with friends)
  • Changes in their mood (from feeling somber to angry) that happen for no apparent reason
  • Physical changes like weight loss/gain or a change in the way they look overall (maybe from wearing baggy clothes to dressing up more often)

Depression & Anxiety

If your teen seems depressed or anxious, they may have trouble sleeping. They may be irritable or moody and have difficulty concentrating and/or eating.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk with your teen about them. If they don’t seem like they want to speak with you about their feelings, it may be best to seek professional help from a counselor or therapist.

Low Self-Esteem

If a teen has low self-esteem, they may feel they don't measure up to others around them. This can lead to serious issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and eating disorders. 

Imagine your child's teen years as a time when they're trying to figure out who they are in the world and how their life will shape up going forward. If their sense of self is shaky because of bullying or lack of experience with failure or success, then it's more likely that they'll struggle with negative thoughts about themselves that could lead to mental health issues later on down the line.

Low self-esteem is common among teens, but it can be treated with professional help from therapists specializing in this issue. 

If you have any concerns about your child's moodiness or behavior during their teenage years — especially if you've noticed them withdrawing from friends and family — then talk with them about why those feelings might be present. Discussing these issues early on can help prevent problems from escalating into something much worse later.

Struggling in School

If your teen is struggling in school, it's important to get them in touch with a teacher or counselor. Talk to the teacher about how you think your child is doing and the resources you can use to help them succeed. The teacher may recommend that your student see a counselor or therapist if they have trouble keeping up with their classes or have problems at home.

Regardless of whether they have a learning disability, all teens need help getting through school and becoming responsible adults. 

If your teen has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), there are ways to manage this disorder so that it doesn't interfere with their academic success and life outside of school. If possible, find a psychologist who specializes in treating ADHD so he or she can create an appropriate treatment plan for your child based on his/her specific needs.

Be Honest With Yourself & Your Child

The first step to helping your teen is to be honest about the severity of their behavior and how it affects you personally. If you're suffering from depression or anxiety because of your teen's behavior, there's no shame in seeking help for those issues. You can't fix everything at home alone — sometimes it takes a village!

Encourage Them To Discuss Openly

Encourage them to discuss their problems with you openly. It's crucial that your teen feels comfortable coming to you for help, even if it means he or she will have to discuss sensitive issues. 

Be a good listener and don't try to solve the problem yourself — be non-judgmental, make eye contact, ask open-ended questions, and let the conversation flow naturally.

If you're worried about your teen's behavior, don't be afraid to seek professional help yourself. Professional counseling is one way in which parents can learn how to better cope with their troubled teens' behaviors and give themselves confidence in dealing with their children's needs effectively.

Consider Therapy For Yourself

Sometimes parents need help too. Parents of troubled teens often feel great emotional distress and isolation because their loved one suffers from a mental health disorder. The way that you handle this situation can have an impact on your child's behavior as well as your own.

If you think that you may benefit from therapy, consider these tips:

  • Find a therapist who has experience working with teenagers and families in crisis.
  • Set up regular appointments with the therapist so they can get to know your child better and see how they react in the therapeutic setting. You can also attend sessions with them if it's recommended by their therapist. This will allow them to learn more about what issues are affecting each family member, which could lead to better communication at home between everyone involved (including yourself).

Ask Them How They Feel About Therapy

Asking your teen if they want to seek therapy is the most critical step in finding the right therapist. 

You may need to bring up that you've found someone, but don't pressure them into going. If they say no, that means no for now — it doesn't mean you should stop looking for help or give up altogether.

If your teen says yes and seems excited about going, ask them what they think of the therapist's background and experience. If there are any concerns, address those now, so everyone feels comfortable moving forward.

Find A Therapist That Specializes in Teens

It is important to find someone who is experienced in working with teenagers. Choose a therapist who specializes in the type of problem your teen is experiencing. For example, if you think your teen might be struggling with depression, look for someone who has specialized training and experience in treating depressed youth.

Look for a therapist who has a good reputation within the community where you live. If you can ask other parents with troubled children what their experience was like working with their therapists, this can give you valuable insight into how effective that person may be at helping them reach their goals!

Don’t Force Them To Get Therapy

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to allow your teen to come to therapy on their own terms. This means that you should never force them into going, no matter how much it seems they need treatment.

Your teenager may not be ready for help yet or may want some time before starting therapy. If this is the case and they've expressed an interest in getting professional help, then let them know that you'll support their decision when they're ready — and don't push them into it even if they seem like they need it right now.

It's also important to remember that your child might have some reservations about seeing a therapist at first because of all the preconceived notions and ideas about what therapists are like (or aren't). Some teenagers think of therapists as people who judge them or make false assumptions about them based purely on what little information he/she knows about their lives as teens.

The best thing you can do for your teen is to be supportive and open. Encourage them to openly discuss their problems with you, and ask them how they feel about therapy or counseling. Give them the time and space they need to decide whether or not they want help. If they are not ready yet, don't force them into therapy — just keep loving and supporting them until they decide it's right for them.