Adolescents are prone to suffering from mood swings, depression and other types of emotional distress as they go through puberty. These conditions affect different adolescents at various ages (usually between the ages of 10 and 18 years) and to varying degrees.
An adolescent can benefit from counselling or therapy during this difficult period of life to help them cope with their emotions and to better understand what they are going through and why. However, there are certain aspects about adolescent counselling that parents need to be aware of before rushing their child into therapy.
1. Choosing A Counselling Strategy
It is best to seek counselling through individual talk therapy with a qualified counsellor, therapist or psychologist first to identify the nature and extent of the problem. Qualifications can take many forms from higher education to life experiences.
Choosing the type of counsellor and strategy is very individual in nature but it is essential to take into consideration the adolescents’ requirements. For example, group therapy may suit one teenager perfectly while another teen will withdraw in a group counselling session. Also consider the style and personality of the therapist that would suit your child.
It is also important to research the facts about adolescent counselling that provide alternative means of therapy. Art, music and other forms of creative outlets have been found very beneficial in assisting young people express their emotions and deal with the stress of puberty.
2. Be Wary Of Medicated Therapy
Healthcare professionals, medical doctors and psychiatrists can be quick to diagnose an adolescent and prescribe drugs to treat depression, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or other behavioral problems. It is important for parents to be aware that these drugs can delay development and stunt emotional growth and maturity which are integral during this phase of life.
On the other hand, if traditional talk therapy, counselling or alternative treatments have failed to address the problem, it may be necessary to seek advice from a medical professional and opt for drugs as part of a treatment plan. This should be the last step in seeking a solution for a troubled adolescent and considered for more sever symptoms.
3. When To Seek Counselling
In a society where therapy and counselling have become the norm for people of all ages, it can be difficult to identify when your adolescent actually needs help. Going too soon may cause frustration for a teen who is not struggling to cope while leaving it too late can have even more dire consequences. This means that it is often better to address any problems early rather than leave it till it is too late.
Look for the following symptoms:
– A drop in school grades
– Withdrawal from friends and family
– Severe mood swings
– Extreme cases of misconduct or misbehavior
– Changes in diet or appetite
– Signs of self-harm
– Expressions of suicidal thoughts or behaviors
Not all these symptoms need to be present to seek professional counselling and it is also important to assess the severity of each symptom in relation to the others. For example, if your child’s English grade drops for one semester, you should not be concerned. However, if your adolescent spends most of their time shut away in the bedroom and you notice a change in appetite, it may be time to talk to child and possibly seek counselling.
4. Talk To The School Counselor
Before seeking professional counselling, one option can be to make an appointment with the school counsellor and express your concerns. They will be able to provide your adolescent with counselling within the school environment as well as address your personal fears. The school counsellor may advise you to seek additional therapy once they have assessed the problem.
On the other hand, don’t be too quick to take your adolescent to a therapist just because the school recommends it. Your child may just have a problem with a specific teacher, subject or with the school in general. Consider all information and factors and make a prompt and well considered decision for your child.
5. Know What Is Normal
One of the most significant misconceptions regarding adolescence and puberty is that behavioral problems, sadness and mood swings are normal. However, every person has a different level of normal and it is important to take into account the individual character and nature of an adolescent in determining their ability to cope with the emotions and stress that they are experiencing.
Don’t compare your journey through puberty with that of your teen, preteen or young adult. Society and the stresses that you may had to deal with in your youth can differ significantly from the what your child is experiencing.
6. Be Prepared To Get Counselled
One of the facts about adolescent counselling that parents might not be prepared for is that the problems their adolescents are experiencing may be due to their own parental actions. When you send your child for counselling, it is important to be prepared to take part in the process.
Be open to listening to your adolescent’s concerns and problems with regards to yourself and open your mind to the parenting advice from the counsellor. Take the time and make an effort to build a strong relationship with your growing child in order to understand them better and to open up lines of communication that will lead to trust.
Remember that your youngster is no longer a child and that they expect to be treated differently. However, they will still learn how to cope by imitating the behaviors of a significant parent. So act maturely, treat your adolescent in a mature manner and they will respond in kind.