When does Your Teen Need Counselling?
As any parent of a teenager knows, they have a lot of emotional ups and downs. What with the pressures of school to succeed, their social lives, physical changes, social pressure, home expectations and the general confusion that comes with growing up, it’s no wonder they occasionally get a little overwhelmed.
Some of the struggles teens face are a normal part of growing up, like dealing with peer groups, experimenting with new ideas, and going through changes in mood, identity, and interests.
Signs something may be wrong
Teens often internalize problems rather than communicating about them openly, so it can be difficult to know if they’re in trouble. However, if you notice any of the following signs, you may want to consider getting further advice or support.
- Change of behavior. A noticeable change in behavior can be part of their normal stages of development but could also be a sign that they need some extra support.
- Sleep patterns. If your teen is finding it harder to sleep, it may be a sign something is causing them anxiety. Likewise, sleeping significantly more than usual can be an indicator that they’re demoralized or even depressed.
- Eating patterns. Eating patterns and appetite often change around emotions. If you’re worried about your teen’s eating, you may want to consult your GP or School Nurse.
- Health Problems. Is your son or daughter reporting frequent headaches, tummy upsets, are you noticing changes in mood and lack of motivation? These are often the symptoms of anxiety.
- School grades. A significant drop in school grades or attendance can be a key indicator that they’re feeling distracted or upset. They may express themselves at school in ways they wouldn’t at home – in the knowledge that you won’t be able to see.
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors. These may include talking, joking, drawing, or writing about suicide or death, giving away cherished possessions, or expressing feelings that they are worthless or that things would be better without them.
- Symptoms of depression, like being withdrawn, lack of appetite, sleeping very little or more than 9 hours per night, loss of interest in things they once enjoyed, doing things of interest to the exclusion of everything else, neglecting personal hygiene, or crying for no reason or seeming sad for longer than two weeks.
- Violent behavior, harming or threatening to harm themselves or others, including animals
- Suddenly gaining or losing a lot of weight, which could indicate a life-threatening eating disorder
- Extreme, rapid changes in moods or personality, or drastic changes that last more than six weeks
- Running away from home
- Risky or dangerous behavior including sexual promiscuity, Illegal activities
- Using tobacco, drugs, or alcohol
- A sudden change in friends
- Divorce and separation: sadness, anger, fear, regret – or even guilt.
- Bereavement: Has a member of the family died recently – or even within the past few years
- Bullying or Abuse: Can be particularly damaging because it so often goes unnoticed. If you think your son or daughter is being bullied or abused, try to talk to them about it – and contact their school.
- Family issues: Often, what your teen is going through may relate to what’s happening with the family as a whole. In these cases, Family Counselling can be a good option.
- Teen pregnancy
- Tragic events in the community or the world
- Anxiety .
- Abuse of self/cutting.
Therapy and counseling is an important part of treating these problems. Individual or group therapy can help teens to:
- Understand why their behaviors are negative, and acquire better inner and outer resources in order to cope better.
- Recognize and change negative thoughts or actions that may cause or trigger their behaviors
- Find better ways to solve problems
While some teens can cope with these events better than others, almost all teens will benefit from talking to a counselor about them. Sometimes a teen’s behavior will indicate that there is a serious problem that requires therapy.