Is Your Teen Ready To Leave Therapy?: Considerations for Ending Therapy the Right Way
As a teen therapist I tell my teenage clients that I am trying to work myself out of a job. This means that I don’t want to see the client for an indefinite period of time. The goal in teen therapy is to reach independence, not dependence.
A good teen counselor helps a teenage client help themselves. He/she doesn’t tell them what to do. A counselor collaborates with a teen and their parents to help them take steps in a positive direction.
Ending teen counseling the right way is as important as starting therapy the right way. It’s essential to begin therapy by establishing a strong therapeutic alliance. It‘s also important to end counseling in a way that serves the relationship.
Unhealthy Reasons to End Therapy
Some teens leave therapy when conversations start to get uncomfortable. It’s true that therapy helps a lot of people feel better about themselves. Therapy can be a calm and relaxing experience.
Good teen therapy also challenges teens to discuss difficult topics. A therapist works with a teen to explore behaviors and attitudes that are not easy to discuss. Things like teen depression, anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, trauma, and PTSD can be challenging topics. It is not uncommon to experience some discomfort when exploring these struggles.
There are times when a counselor challenges a teen. This should not be a reason to end therapy. If a teenager is uncomfortable, they should talk about these feelings. It is usually these uncomfortable, not talked about feelings, that drive their emotional or behavioral struggles.
Other teens leave teen therapy when their schedule gets too busy. Teens start school, sports and a myriad of other activities. Many of those activities are important for the teen’s mental health. That said, there should be a healthy balance.
If a teen was doing well in counseling, taking them out too soon may cause issues down the road. The most effective teen counseling happens once a week. Every other week or monthly sessions are not ideal but can still make a difference.
It’s important to balance sports and other activities with a therapy schedule.
When It’s Time To End Therapy
When is it time to end teen therapy? It may be time to end therapy when:
The teen feels they are able to meet their goals without the regular support of their therapist and
When the parents have seen the teen internalize the changes leading to long term change
This is different than a teenager saying they don’t need help anymore. If the teen no longer needs help, you will see this through their consistent, changed, behavior between therapy sessions. If you don't see this change, it's an sign that the teen may need to continue with teen therapy.
Transition Weekly to Bi-weekly
The best way to start the process of ending therapy is by moving from weekly to bi-weekly sessions. Tapering down helps the teen practice what they have learned. The longer the teen spends without the direct support of the therapist the more they feel they can do on their own.
Bi-weekly counseling also provides support for the parents. As the teen goes longer between counseling sessions, this is an opportunity for the teen to show mastery of change. Yet, if the teen struggles during this time, the teen and family counselor is readily available.
Transition From Bi-weekly to Monthly
After a few bi-weekly sessions, the teen can transition to once a month. At this stage they have plenty of time to do the work without the therapist’s scaffolding. Going longer periods of time without therapy boosts the teen’s sense of confidence.
Going longer periods of time without teen therapy also helps to build confidence in the parents. Parents need to see that the changes have been internalized. Yet, during that month, if the teen or parents need additional support, the teen and family therapist is there.
The Importance of Healthy Closure
As therapy comes to an end, it’s important to give the teen and family a sense of closure. A therapist can talk to a teen and family about the progress they’ve made and the road ahead of them.
A therapist can encourage the teen and praise them for all their hard work and perseverance. The therapist can also point out the growth and positive changes the parents have made validating their hard work as well. Ending well also ensures the teen will want to pursue therapy in the future if they ever need it.
A positive sign of long term success is when the family system -- both teen and parents -- have been able to make positive changes together!
Begin Teen Therapy With a Teen Counselor at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Katy, Tx & Houston
There is not a better time than the summer time to start teen therapy and/or family counseling. Though summer tends to be a busy time, schedules are also more flexible and time more available.
Get a jump on the upcoming school year by helping your teen overcome the emotional or behavioral struggles that act as obstacles to their success.
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen and Family Counseling, our teen therapists can help. Our teen counselors specialize in helping teens overcome depression, anxiety, panic, ADHD/ADD, trauma, PTSD and other struggles.
If you are ready to work on removing the emotional struggles that stand in your way, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Speak with one of our teen counselors who specialize in teen therapy
Let us help you overcome the struggles that stand in your way of happiness & success
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Serving Katy, Tx & The Houston Area
At the Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide other counseling and therapeutic services with an emphasis on the family system. Parenting struggling teens or young adults can place a strain on the marriage or relationship. We also provide marriage counseling and couples therapy.
We also provide a variety of specialized teen therapy, young adult counseling, and family counseling services:
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
About the Author
Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Quique specializes in teen therapy and helping teens build upon their innate strengths while developing skills and tools to overcome depression, anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD, and more.
He also is a family systems therapist. He views each individual through that lens and provides therapy for the family system which includes: teen therapy, young adult counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling & couples therapy.
Quique has helped those who experience depression, anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, and is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Quique also has a passion for helping teens, young adults, and adults who may be on the Autism Spectrum. He has a talent for connecting with and helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
If you're ready to start your healing journey in teen therapy, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at email@example.com.