Teen Counseling

Adolescence can be confusing for both parents and teens. It’s a period where teens seek independence and autonomy, but also still require parental guidance and boundaries. Combine this with hormonal changes and typical stressors, teens may often appear withdrawn and moody. They may also be more argumentative and have a change in attitude that wasn’t characteristic of their younger selves. This is normal, albeit challenging, and can sometimes mimic depression and anxiety. So, how do you know when a teen is just being a “teen” or something more is going on than just “growing pains?”

teen-counseling-los-angeles Often there are signs that point to changes in behavior and mood or something is noticeably different. Some of these include:

  • A drop in grades/problems at school
  • Physical changes such as appearing worn down and tired
  • Less time spent with friends/family and more time isolating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • An increase in angry outbursts

If you notice you’re teen seems to be struggling, talking with a therapist may help. They may be overwhelmed and need a place where they feel supported so they can sort out their feelings and find ways to create change.

Common Issues/Behaviors Teens Struggle With:

Body Image – Teens are at the age where their appearance is extremely important. They tend to compare themselves to others and fixate on parts of themselves they don’t like. Add ideas of what a “perfect” body is, a teen may often feel inferior leading to depression and low self-esteem.

Low Self-esteem/Lack of confidence – Teens generally want to fit in, while simultaneously seek their own identity. If they don't feel accepted by their peers, they may feel insecure in general and bad about themselves.

Anxiety/Stress – I have witnessed an ongoing trend of increased anxiety in my work with teens. Anxiety over demanding homework, pressures and fears of their future can cause excessive worry and feeling out of control.

Depression – It’s common for teens to experience times of sadness. However, if you notice a change in how often your teen seems down or tends to isolate they may be depressed.

Angry outbursts – Often teens struggle with ways to express themselves or communicate. They bottle up feelings and tend to shutdown when uncomfortable. These behaviors can lead to impulse control issues such as reacting angrily.

Sexuality – It can be an extremely confusing time for teens when they are dealing with hormonal changes and the onset of sexual urges. This subject is particularly difficult to talk about which can make them feel isolated and alone.

Self-destructive behavior – Two common methods teens use to attempt to cope with their feelings are self-injury and the use of drugs and alcohol. With self-injury one often has difficulty tolerating overwhelming feelings and is unable to express or verbalize the pain they are in. Through drugs and alcohol, teens may attempt to escape their emotions or drown them out.

Dysfunctional Eating – If you notice an alteration in your teen’s diet such as eating less, overeating, or weight loss they may be struggling with unhealthy eating patterns.

Family changes such as divorce or illness – Teens tend to deny the impact big changes in the family may have, but events such as divorce and illness are very difficult on everyone in the family. They may say they are ok, but more often than not it can disrupt their sense of stability.

How Teen Therapy Can Help

There are many common areas teens I see struggle with. They may act out verbally and behaviorally or internalize their feelings and exhibit signs of depression and anxiety. Interestingly, more often than not, teens tend to want to do what they need in order to feel better. Often it requires a space they feel supported in, free to talk without fear of judgment. This breeds a motivation to confront what’s bothering them and make change.

Some of the benefits teen therapy may provide are:

  • Improved self esteem and confidence
  • Feeling less depressed or anxious
  • Improved coping skills to manage anger, anxiety and stress
  • Improved communication skills
  • Reduction/Elimination of self destructive behaviors
  • Improved relationships with parents and peers
  • Feeling better and happier overall

Common Questions About Teen Counseling

I’m a teen. Am I "crazy" if I go to therapy?

Absolutely not. In fact, I would say you’re courageous. Although it can seem scary at first, talking to someone can actually help one feel better. By facing what’s bothering you, you will be able to lessen the control it has, move through your problems and find ways to feel better.

I’m a teen? Are you going to tell my parents everything I say?

It’s important to create an environment where you feel safe and are able to talk freely. This requires that what we talk about stay in session. I do feel it’s important to stay connected with parents, but not to divulge specific information. Of course, if you are in danger of harm, we would discuss this first and come up with a plan on how to tell your parents.

What if my teen doesn’t want to go to therapy?

Surprisingly, your teen may be more open to going to therapy than you realize. Often, they want relief and are ready to at least try it out. If your teen really is resistant, it may be helpful to express your concerns gently and explain to them that you just want them to feel better. You can try to make a deal with them to go at least once. Often once the teen comes in, they find it isn’t as scary as they may have thought and become more open to the process.

The teen years don’t have to be as challenging as they appear. If you or your teen is struggling, please call me to start the process.

Kristin Allen has provided psychotherapy for teens at the Culver City Youth Health Center, which serves both the middle school and high school; supervised teens at TEEN LINE, a peer-to-peer hotline that deals with issues such as child abuse, relationships, drug abuse, suicide, self-injury and sexuality; and facilitated group therapy at Vista Del Mar for "at-risk" children.

(213) 503-8255
9300 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 306
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

  • Who I See

    • My services include, but are not limited to, working with teens and adults who struggle with anxiety, depression, grief and relationship troubles.
  • Contact

    • 9300 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 306
      Beverly Hills, CA 90212
      Phone : (213) 503-8255