Does my teen need counseling?
Real Mom Problem
“My 16-year-old daughter is very moody. I am trying to discover if this is normal teen stuff. I worry she may be depressed, and I want to help.”
- 1. Recognize signs your child may need help, like sudden behavior or mood changes, stress from major life events, or social isolation
- 2. Your teen may be resistant to seeing a therapist, so think about how to entice him to go
- 3. Make sure the counselor you choose is a good match for your teen
- 4. Check with local charities or nonprofit organizations to find free counseling options for teens
Real Mom Solutions
Does your teen seem unusually moody or depressed? These moms can help you figure out if your teen could benefit from therapy.
Recognize the Warning Signs
I took my teen to a counselor when: he asked for help, he didn't function normally, he talked of being so sad he didn't know what to do. I was already talking to his school counselor at this point and just made the next step.
I think that we may be overreacting to normal behaviors sometimes. If there's a truly major problem it will show itself. Then react accordingly. Be careful to not overreact.
If there's a sudden change in mood, then it might just be a teenage thing or influence from friends. If it's been going on for a while, then try counseling for the both of you to see if you can get to the root of the problems.
Give it a Try -- It Can't Hurt
Kids these days have a whole lot of things on their plates and school is harder than when we were in school. The atmosphere is the same; the cliques the bullies, peer pressure, keeping up with the Joneses and all that stuff, but academically it is way different. Find a good therapist that deals with adolescents and give it a try. Can't hurt.
I would sit your teen down very gently and calmly and comfortingly and not in a scolding or judging way at all, just let her know you are concerned and care about her and ask her what is going on inside of her. Tell her that you are here for her to talk to or vent to or share with even if it's negative and that there is nothing you two can't get through together. Also look into counseling. Sometimes teens do better talking to someone else because they don't want to hurt their parent's feelings or make them worry.
Learn How to Help a Reluctant Teen
Counseling absolutely can work if you find the right bargaining tool. It would help if she wanted to go, but not many teens do, so use what you can and just help get her in the door.
If it were me, I would start seeing a family or child psychologist on my own a few times, then ask my teen to join me to help me understand her perspective. Tell her she doesn't have to talk unless she wants to; she can just listen and offer help if she feels the need. Whatever you do, do not let the counseling session lead into an argument or she won't ever go back again.
I feel that counseling only works if you let it. If your teen doesn't want it, it won't help.
Find & Choose the Right Counselor
If you are trying to find a place for counseling, check with your local United Way. They should be able to refer you to any children's services agencies in your area that offer counseling.
Finding the right therapist is important. It has to be a good match with your teen. Sometimes the first one you try doesn't work out. Don't give up. Try another one.