3 Reasons Family Therapy Should Be a Part of a Teen's Therapy Journey
There is a lot of joy in being a parent. The different stages of life our children grow through provide some of the most awesome moments in a parents life.
As our children grow and develop, they eventually transition from that sweet child to a moody teen. Parenting the sweet child looks different than parenting the moody teenager.
Our teen and parents are facing complex challenges in the world today. Teens managing their day to day life without struggling with emotional or behavioral challenges is challenging enough.
Family therapy can paly a vital role in helping teens through the intolerable feeling that teen depression, teen anxiety, ADHD/ADD, teen trauma or other challenges present.
Strengthening communication, being in the journey together which shifts the focus from a 'me' problem to a 'we problem', and learning the skills and tools to use outside of therapy once therapy has completed leads to sustaining long term changes.
The teen therapy and family counseling specialists at Katy Teen & Family Counseling can help your teen and family navigate these complex issues. There are answers. There is hope. Your teen and family can resolve these life struggles.
Being a Parent Rocks!
It is the most amazing thing being a parent! Something magical happens right after birth when we see our little ones for the first time. A bond of love is created and tethered to that child and our whole world changes at that moment. Our priorities shift. The relationship between mother and father evolve. We get less sleep. We have more worry. We start planning from that moment creating the best life possible for this child. We also have a little voice in the back of our minds wondering if we are adequate for the challenge of being a parent.
Not one of our children came with an operation manual. We rely on our own parents, siblings, friends, and others when we have questions about how to handle various situations with our children. We learn from other parents who have gone before us and they help us avoid the mistakes they may have made while doing the best that they could. We also are able to draw on their successes in raising their children to help our children to thrive.
Each developmental stage our children go through is uniquely amazing in their own special way. The pride we as parents feel when our child starts to crawl and walk. The excitement when they say their first word. Watching them play soccer for the first time when they are more interested in playing with a butterfly floating by than where the ball may be. Making friends, developing interests and hobbies, laughing, getting back up when the fall, all the healthy things our kids engage in give us a sense of confidence that maybe we are doing okay at this parenting thing.
From Sweet Child to Moody Teen
We watch our sweet children grow and develop and we derive a sense of pride and accomplishment. They encounter difficulties and struggles but we have always been there to make things better for them and to help them learn. Then, something shifts when our sweet children develop into moody teens.
We all know that hormones play a part in this shift from sweet child to moody teen. Also, school becomes more challenging adding more stress. Extracurricular activities and/or getting a job, though important, reduces the time available to study and be with friends. The complexities of social life and social pressure compounded by social media can be tricky to navigate. Teens today experience stress levels on par with adults. For any teen, this is a time of their life that can be challenging to navigate.
Think of a time where you had a week of intense deadlines, work pressure, activities to attend and not enough time in the day to do it all. What was your mood like that week? As adults, we have experienced this type of stress and pressure repeatedly. We have had PLENTY of opportunities to learn how to manage stress and pressure.
For teens, this is their first experience in managing this level of stress and pressure. It would be expected that there may be some moodiness for teens who do not struggle with emotional or behavioral challenges. Now think about those teens that on top of all the above, struggle with teen depression, teen anxiety, ADHD/ADD, teen trauma or other emotional or behavioral challenges.
Complex Challenges Parents Face Today in Parenting Teens
A teen struggling with teen depression, teen anxiety, ADHD/ADD, teen trauma or other struggles is a complex issue. Teens who experience these difficulties on top of the normal life stressors can lose hope in being successful in life. Often, they will hide their struggles and present to those around them that they are fine. Meanwhile, the inner storm they experience rages on. Some reasons teens give for hiding the inner storm are:
"I don't want to be a disappointment to my parents"
"If my parents knew, they would worry about me too much"
"I don't want to add this stress to my parents. They already have enough stress"
It becomes very challenging to help our teens when they won't share the struggles they are have. When they do share the struggles they have, we do the best we can to help them overcome those struggles. Often, after we have tried everything and the struggles persist, we reach out to a teen therapist for help.
It's a natural thought that if the therapist can help the teen over come their depression, anxiety, ADHD/ADD, trauma, etc. that everything will be fine. In many ways, this train of thought is accurate. If the main problem is the depression and the teen is able to overcome the depression, than problem solved. So where does family therapy come in?
The Role of Family Therapy in Sustaining Progress Long Term
Let me start by reiterating that the individual therapy work is important. Working with the teen to overcome their emotional or behavioral struggle is essential. Teen Therapy is important to help them:
Understand that these struggles are not due to a 'mental weakness' and does not mean that they are weak
That to wake up every day, be successful throughout the day, carrying around the heavy weight of emotional difficulties means they are stronger than they know
Identify where some of these struggles come from whether it's genetics, environment, or a combination of both
Learn strategies to help maintain the changes they have made
Family therapy to help teens with sustaining the changes is a core element for long term change. Some families may wonder why they would need therapy for families when it is the teen who has the struggles. Below are three reasons why it's vital to have family counseling to help your teen in the change process:
1. Improve and Enhance Family Communication
If you were to ask me what is one thing that I work on in family therapy that is consistent with each family it would be communication. Improving and enhancing communication is generally the first element that we start to strengthen in family therapy.
The struggles that teens face with teen depression, teen anxiety, ADHD/ADD, teen trauma and more are complex. Having open and honest communication, listening to understand, is the foundation of sustaining long term change. When teens open up to their parents in family counseling, the counselor can help guide the teen and family through the complexity.
Teens are often reluctant to share their experience with heir parents of dealing with their inner storm. They don't want to burden their parents with their problems. Or, they don't want to disappoint their parents or be seen as a disappointment. The fear is that if they open up, it will "just make things worse".
Family therapy is an excellent way to dispel that fear. In the vast majority of my sessions where the teens have demonstrated courage in letting their parents in to their struggles, the result has been an increase in love and support by the parents.
Teens often experience relief when they open up to their parents. Their parents are able to help them carry the emotional burden which may not take it away from the teen, but lightens it significantly. Once the fear has been dispelled, they have experience an outpouring of love and support from their parents, teens will generally continue to open up to their parents in between sessions.
2. We're in this Journey Together
Once we have this foundation of open communication set, the therapist can help the family navigate the complexity. In family therapy, the therapist can guide the family in their own individual roles in how to make changes to further support their teen. It is a powerful force when the whole family is working together toward sustaining change in family counseling sessions and between sessions.
No matter the emotional or behavioral struggles, for a long time, the teen can feel like the 'problem child'. Often, the focus of attention is on the teen who is struggling. Struggling teens can easily feel that there is something wrong with them in comparison to the other family members.
Another powerful element of family therapy is when the parents identify what they could do differently to improve. As parents take ownership of what they could do better, it suddenly becomes a 'we' problem not a 'me' problem. Now that we have addressed the fears of opening up to their parents and now to hear their parents take ownership for their role in the problem, the defensiveness of the teen decreases and real work can be done.
Regardless of whether we think we have a role in sustaining the problem or not, there are always things we could do differently or better to help our teen succeed. The simple act of taking personal ownership alleviates the burden and reframes it as a 'family problem' to work on together.
3. The Family as "Family Therapist" and "Teen Counselor"
There will come a time when the teen has accomplished their goals in teen counseling. These goals can be achieved through individual teen counseling without family therapy. However, how will the family be able to support their teen after therapy has been completed if they are not a part of the teens therapy?
Family counseling allows the family to be involved and engaged in the therapy process from the beginning. Family therapy allows for open communication to dispel many fears that keep teens stuck. Family counseling also allows for parents to identify what they could to differently to further help their teen. Family therapy also helps the parents learn the skills and have the tools to help their teen sustain the changes they made long after therapy has been completed.
Family therapy prepares the teen and family to be their own 'family therapist' and 'teen counselor'. The skills and tools that are gained when working together as a family will translate well outside of the office and in the home. Where parents and teens may have not had the tools before coming to family counseling and teen therapy to help resolve the struggles, through family therapy they have a whole new set of tools for their teen and family tool kit.
Specializing in Teen Therapy and Family Counseling Since 2003: Experience has Shown Family Therapy to be a Powerful Change Agent in Teens Lives
I have been providing teen counseling and family therapy since 2003. I have seen the powerful impact family therapy can have on a teens progress and sustaining that progress long term. In the majority of teens I see for teen counseling, we will include the family at some point along the journey for family counseling.
Therapists working with teens must be comfortable and effective in family therapy. Teen therapists can do many wonderful and amazing things in their therapy sessions to help teens achieve their goals. But without family therapy, they are missing a vital component of sustaining long term change.
It takes a lot of courage for a teen to come into teen therapy to open up about their struggles. Often, intense feelings will come to the surface, feelings they have pushed down for good reason -- they hurt. Each teen I work with in teen counseling leaves me feeling amazed as the strength and courage they have. Teens in teen counseling have the heart of warriors!
It also takes a lot of courage for family members to participate in family therapy for many of the same reasons. Often, there has been a lot of hurt that has been created. There could be some anger and resentment that will need to be addressed. These are not easy things to talk about, to feel, and to resolve.
But, I can tell you from over 17 years experience, when the family is in it together, practice open and honest communication, and commit to making changes along the way, long term change happens. You will walk away from teen counseling and family therapy with the tools needed to sustain those changes outside the teen therapy or family counseling office.
Begin Teen Counseling and Family Therapy with the Specialists at Katy Teen & Family Counseling:
Family Therapy in Katy Texas, Family Therapy for Houston Texas, and Those in the Surrounding Areas
There are answers to your teens struggles. The family plays a central role in helping your teen succeed. Teen depression, teen anxiety, ADHD/ADD, the impacts of teen trauma can be a thing of the past. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, our caring teen therapy and family counseling specialists can help. To start your teen counseling and family therapy journey, you can follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Meet with one of our caring teen counseling & family therapy experts
Start your journey toward individual and family healing today
Along with Family Therapy in Katy Tx and Family Therapy in Houston Tx, We Also Provide the Following Teen Therapy Services:
Teen Therapy for Self-harm
Teen Therapy for Self-esteem and Self-worth
Teen Substance Use Therapy
Teen Anger Management Treatment
How to Begin Teen Therapy or Family Counseling
To begin teen therapy or family counseling, simply contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling through our website or by calling 346-202-4662. Our Owner and Lead Clinician answers each phone call to help match you with the right therapist for you teen and family.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker. He is a Specialist in Teen Therapy & Family Counseling. He has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003. Through his expertise, he helps teens who struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD/ADD, and PTSD. He works with talented teen athletes who have experience mental blocks. Gifted students have unique challenges that Jason understands well. Jason uses CBT, EMDR, Neurofeedback, FFT, and Motivational Interviewing. We only work with teens and families which allows us to focus on what teens and families of today need. Resolving the struggles of today can assure a more successful tomorrow. Proudly serving Katy, Tx and Houston.