Taken From: Here
What Are Some Reasons That Teens Go to Therapists?
When teens are going through a rough time,
such as family troubles or problems in school,
they might feel more supported if they talk to a therapist.
They may be feeling sad, angry, or overwhelmed by what's been happening
- and need help sorting out their feelings,
finding solutions to their problems, or just feeling better.
That's when therapy can help.
Just a few examples of situations in which therapy can help are when someone:
feels sad, depressed, worried, shy, or just stressed out
is dieting or overeating for too long or it becomes a problem (eating disorders)
cuts, burns, or self-injures is dealing with an
attention problem (ADHD) or a learning problem
is coping with a chronic illness (such as diabetes or asthma)
or a new diagnosis of a serious problem such as HIV,
cancer, or a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
is dealing with family changes such as separation and divorce,
or family problems such as alcoholism or addiction
is trying to cope with a traumatic event,
death of a loved one, or worry over world events
has a habit he or she would like to get rid of, such as nail biting, hair pulling,
smoking, or spending too much money, or getting hooked on medications, drugs, or pills
wants to sort out problems like managing anger or coping with peer pressure
wants to build self-confidence or figure out ways to make more friends
In short, therapy offers people support when they are going through difficult times.
Deciding to seek help for something you're going through can be really hard. It may be
your idea to go to therapy or it might not. Sometimes parents or teachers bring up the
idea first because they notice that someone they care about is dealing with a difficult
situation, is losing weight, or seems unusually sad, worried, angry, or upset. Some people
in this situation might welcome the idea or even feel relieved. Others might feel
criticized or embarrassed and unsure if they'll benefit from talking to someone.
Sometimes people are told by teachers, parents, or the courts that they have to go see a
therapist because they have been behaving in ways that are unacceptable, illegal,
self-destructive, or dangerous. When therapy is someone else's idea, a person may at first
feel like resisting the whole idea. But learning a bit more about what therapy involves
and what to expect can help make it seem OK.
What Is Therapy?
Therapy isn't just for mental health. You've probably heard people discussing other types
of medical therapy, such as physical therapy or chemotherapy. But the word "therapy" is
most often used to mean psychotherapy (sometimes called "talk therapy") — in other
words, psychological help to deal with stress or problems.
Psychotherapy is a process that's a lot like learning. Through therapy, people learn about
themselves. They discover ways to overcome difficulties, develop inner strengths or
skills, or make changes in themselves or their situations. Often, it feels good just to
have a person to vent to, and other times it's useful to learn different techniques to
help deal with stress.
A psychotherapist (therapist, for short) is a person who has been professionally trained
to help people deal with stress or other problems. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social
workers, counselors, and school psychologists are the titles of some of the licensed
professionals who work as therapists. The letters following a therapist's name (for
example, MD, PhD, PsyD, EdD, MA, LCSW, LPC) refer to the particular education and degree
that therapist has received.
Some therapists specialize in working with a certain age group or on a particular type of
problem. Other therapists treat a mix of ages and issues. Some work in hospitals, clinics,
or counseling centers. Others work in schools or in psychotherapy offices, often called a
"private practice" or "group practice."
What Do Therapists Do?
Most types of therapy include talking and listening, building trust, and receiving support
and guidance. Sometimes therapists may recommend books for people to read or work through.
They may also suggest keeping a journal. Some people prefer to express themselves using
art or drawing. Others feel more comfortable just talking.
When a person talks to a therapist about which situations might be difficult for them or
what stresses them out, this helps the therapist assess what is going on. The therapist
and client then usually work together to set therapy goals and figure out what will help
the person feel better or get back on track.
It might take a few meetings with a therapist before people really feel like they can
share personal stuff. It's natural to feel that way. Trust is an essential ingredient in
therapy — after all, therapy involves being open and honest about sensitive topics like
feelings, ideas, relationships, problems, disappointments, and hopes. A therapist
understands that people sometimes take a while to feel comfortable sharing personal
Most of the time, a person meets with a therapist one on one, which is known as individual
therapy. Sometimes, though, a therapist might work with a family (called family therapy)
or a group of people who all are dealing with similar issues (called group therapy or a
support group). Family therapy gives family members a chance to talk together with a
therapist about problems that involve them all. Group therapy and support groups help
people give and receive support and learn from each other and their therapist by
discussing the issues they have in common.
What Happens During Therapy?
If you see a therapist, he or she will talk with you about your feelings, thoughts,
relationships, and important values. At the beginning, therapy sessions are focused on
discussing what you'd like to work on and setting goals. Some of the goals people in
therapy may set include things like:
improving self-esteem and gaining confidence
figuring out how to make more friends
feeling less depressed or less anxious
improving grades at school
learning to manage anger and frustration
making healthier choices (for example, about relationships or eating) and ending
During the first visit, your therapist will probably ask you to talk a bit about yourself.
Depending on your age, the therapist will also likely meet with a parent or caregiver and
ask you to review information regarding confidentiality.
The first meeting can last longer than the usual "therapy hour" and is often called an
"intake interview." This helps the therapist understand you better, and gives you a chance
to see if you feel comfortable with the therapist. The therapist will probably ask about
problems, concerns, and symptoms that you may be having, or the problems that parents or
teachers are concerned about.
After one or two sessions, the therapist may talk to you about his or her understanding of
what is going on with you, how therapy could help, and what the process will involve.
Together, you and your therapist will decide on the goals for therapy and how frequently
to meet. This may be once a week, every other week, or once a month.
With a better understanding of your situation, the therapist might teach you new skills or
help you to think about a situation in a new way. For example, therapists can help people
develop better relationship skills or coping skills, including ways to build confidence,
express feelings, or manage anger.
Sticking to the schedule you agree on with your therapist and going to your appointments
will ensure you have enough time with your therapist to work out your concerns. If your
therapist suggests a schedule that you don't think you'll be able to keep, be up front
about it so you can work out an alternative.
How Private Is It?
Therapists respect the privacy of their clients and they keep things they're told
confidential. A therapist won't tell anyone else — including parents — about what a
person discusses in his or her sessions unless that person gives permission. The only
exception is if therapists believe their clients may harm themselves or others.
If the issue of privacy and confidentiality worries you, be sure to ask your therapist
about it during your first meeting. It's important to feel comfortable with your therapist
so you can talk openly about your situation.
Does It Mean I'm Crazy?
No. In fact, many people in your class have probably seen a therapist at some point —
just like students often see tutors or coaches for extra help with schoolwork or sports.
Getting help in dealing with emotions and stressful situations is as important to your
overall health as getting help with a medical problem like asthma or diabetes.
There's nothing wrong with getting help with problems that are hard to solve alone. In
fact, it's just the opposite. It takes a lot of courage and maturity to look for solutions
to problems instead of ignoring or hiding them and allowing them to become worse. If you
think that therapy could help you with a problem, ask an adult you trust — like a
parent, school counselor, or doctor — to help you find a therapist.
A few adults still resist the idea of therapy because they don't fully understand it or
have outdated ideas about it. A couple of generations ago, people didn't know as much
about the mind or the mind-body connection as they do today, and people were left to
struggle with their problems on their own. It used to be that therapy was only available
to those with the most serious mental health problems, but that's no longer the case.
Therapy is helpful to people of all ages and with problems that range from mild to much
more serious. Some people still hold on to old beliefs about therapy, such as thinking
that teens "will grow out of" their problems. If the adults in your family don't seem open
to talking about therapy, mention your concerns to a school counselor, coach, or doctor.
You don't have to hide the fact that you're going to a therapist, but you also don't have
to tell anyone if you'd prefer not to. Some people find that talking to a few close
friends about their therapy helps them to work out their problems and feel like they're
not alone. Other people choose not to tell anyone, especially if they feel that others
won't understand. Either way, it's a personal decision.
What Can a Person Get Out of Therapy?
What someone gets out of therapy depends on why that person is there. For example, some
people go to therapy to solve a specific problem, others want to begin making better
choices, and others want to start to heal from a loss or a difficult life situation.
Therapy can help people feel better, be stronger, and make good choices as well as
discover more about themselves. Those who work with therapists might learn about
motivations that lead them to behave in certain ways or about inner strengths they have.
Maybe you'll learn new coping skills, develop more patience, or learn to like yourself
better. Maybe you'll find new ways to handle problems that come up or new ways to handle
yourself in tough situations.
People who work with therapists often find that they learn a lot about themselves and that
therapy can help them grow and mature. Lots of people discover that the tools they learn
in therapy when they're young make them feel stronger and better able to deal with
whatever life throws at them even as adults. If you are curious about the therapy process,
talk to a counselor or therapist to see if you could benefit.