TEEN BOARDING SCHOOLS
Behavior Therapy for Adolescents
Can Your Teen Benefit from Therapy?
By Graciela Sholander
It isn't always easy to know if your teen could benefit from therapy. Are his mood swings normal? Are the changes in her personality simply part of growing up? Or does your adolescent need professional help to address a more serious issue?
Trust your intuition. If you're worried about your teen, try talking first. If your teen lets you know he needs help, or you're still concerned, then make an appointment with the school counselor or your teenager's doctor, both of whom can guide you and your adolescent in the right direction.
The solution may be as simple as having your teen read a book about handling cliques or dealing with bullies. Or a few meetings with her school counselor may be enough. In some cases, particularly if your adolescent has recently experienced any form of trauma, therapy will be recommended. The good news is that many options are available. If your teenager isn't receptive to one form of therapy, there's probably a different therapy that will suit him.
Especially sociable adolescents tend to respond well to group therapy. This is a good choice for teens who are more comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with peers than with adults. In a group therapy setting, participants learn from each other by listening and offering advice based on personal experience. A therapist guides the discussion.
This form of therapy can bring you and your teen closer together. It provides a forum to discuss whatever is on your minds. Whether it's about a family issue, such as divorce, or you're trying to help your teen with a problem, such as drugs and alcohol, anorexia, self-image, or depression, family therapy can offer a supportive environment to foster better communication. It can bring hidden issues to the surface, enabling you and the therapist to find the right treatment, if needed, for your teen. Your adolescent may feel safer sharing with you in this setting since the therapist becomes a neutral third party.
Your teen may not want to talk with peers or with you - she may feel most comfortable sharing with just one person. That's when individual therapy with a trained therapist, such as a counselor, psychiatrist, or psychologist, can help. Be sure to find one experienced in counseling teens. If your teen is uncomfortable with a particular therapist, find another one.
Art and Music Therapies
Your teen doesn't need to be an artist or a musician to benefit from these forms of therapy. The goal with each is to provide a comfortable and effective avenue of expression for your adolescent. Perhaps he just can't talk openly. Instead, drawing or painting pictures that reflect his feelings, hopes, fears, and goals can heighten his self-awareness. The artwork becomes a tool for him to explore issues with a therapist. Music therapy generally focuses on healing. Your teen might listen to music recommended by her therapist. She also might be encouraged to write songs, perform music, or discuss lyrics, activities designed to help her heal from physical or emotional wounds. Music therapy is also very effective in reducing stress and helping your teen feel more balanced.
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