An important question for parents to ask when looking for a teen therapist is how the therapist will involve the parents in their teen's therapy. Depending on the therapist, you will usually get one of two answers:
The teenager is my client and because of this, I cannot communicate information about their therapy.
With teenagers, the family is seen as the client. As a teen therapist, I will provide regular update on your teenager's progress. I'll also provide information on the things we are working on in therapy so that you can help support your teen in the home in between sessions.
Of course, answer number 2 is the answer that you would want. The reason some therapists choose not to communicate with the parents is due to their view of confidentiality.
Confidentiality in therapy is an absolute and critical must. A teen therapist has to have the trust of the teenager in the therapeutic relationship. Without that trust, teens will not share sensitive information or risk being vulnerable. As a result, not much deep work can be done.
And teenagers are in a very important and complex emotional, psychological, physical, neurological, and social development stage. This all occurs within the system of the family with the parents being a key element in that family system. This is part of what makes providing teen therapy much different than adult therapy.
In teen therapy, parental inclusion is a key element. This doesn't mean the parent is sitting in on the sessions (unless the teen is participating in family therapy). It does mean that the parents are kept up to date on the teen's therapy journey and included in on the teen's:
Participation level in therapy,
Progress in therapy,
Coping skills being taught,
Goals for in between sessions,
Homework assigned in between sessions, and more.
So How Does a Teen Therapist Maintain Confidentiality While Including the Parents?
This is something I go over, and train our therapists to go over, in the first session in teen therapy. As teen counselors, there will be times where the teenager will talk with us about something that they may not feel comfortable talking with their parents about, yet. These types of conversations will remain between the teen counselor and the teenager.
I explain to the teen and the parents in the first session that I will provide updates to the parents. These updates will be general in nature and will not include anything confidential. It is explained what could be included in an update and the bullet points above are included in that explanation. I then provide an example of a typical parent update.
I go on to explain that in teen counseling particularly, confidentiality is critical. If I were to talk with the parents about something the teenager expected to be held confidential, the trust with the teen would be eliminated. At this point, it would be challenging to rebuild the trust to a level where the deeper work can be done.
As it is a teen therapist's goal to help the teenager, a teen therapist holds confidential information sacred. And parents also need to be included in order for the teenager to make and sustain long term changes.
Parents Receive Updates on Their Teenager's Progress in Teen Counseling While Maintaining Confidentiality
There are a variety of ways that parents can receive updates while also maintaining the teenager's confidentiality. The teen counselor should ask in the first session your preference on how you would like to receive updates.
Meeting with the therapist for the first 5 minutes of the session,
Meeting with the therapist for 5 minutes at the end of the session,
Periodic updates via phone
These updates not only provide the parents with information on how their teen is progressing in therapy, but it also provides the therapist an opportunity to hear how the teen is doing in between sessions.
I worked as a teen therapist in residential treatment centers for teenagers. I would meet with my client once a week in therapy. The first thing I would do each day coming into work would be to check the "Communication Log".
The Communication Log is where the Direct Care Staff, who are with my client 24/7, document how my client has been doing during the week. If they have been struggling it would be documented here. If they have been doing great, same.
I would then meet with my client later in the day. I always start my sessions asking how they have been doing.
Sometimes the teenager I was working with would say they've been doing great. No problems at all. And this is where I could share the observations of the Direct Care Staff who have observed them struggling throughout the week.
We see your teenager one to two hours each week. If the teen therapist is not communicating with you in providing updates, they are missing out on rich information from you that could ultimately make the difference in the teenager's progress in counseling.
Parents as a Vital Role in the Teenager's Progress in Teen Counseling
In adult counseling, the adult has been through all the developmental stages. They are largely able to live life on their own with limited support. In teen counseling, teenagers are in a rapid state of development in many areas and depend upon the support of their parents.
Parents play a vital role in the success of the teenager's progress in therapy. Receiving updates from the parents on the teen's progress between sessions helps guide the teen therapists' approach in therapy. The information parents provide enhance the therapist's ability to do their job.
And the reverse is true. The therapist providing updates on the skills, tools, goals, and homework being assigned in therapy can also help the parent support the teen in between sessions where the real growth occurs.
And parents, it doesn't matter how great of parents we are. When we are trying to help a teen change, it often requires the parents to make changes too. This is not a reflection on your parenting in many cases. It simply comes down to systems theory.
Take a watch for example. All the gears in the watch work together in synchronicity to keep accurate time. If one of the gears changes, it affects the other gears functionality.
Family systems are very similar. We are all working together to create a happy, healthy home environment. If one member changes for better or not so much for the better, it affects the rest of the family.
When a teenager begins to make positive changes, it is important for parents to also adjust their approach in some ways to support the teens positive changes. This is the secret ingredient to long term success.
Katy Teen & Family Counseling: 70+ Years of Combined Experience in Teen Therapy Katy, TX & Houston
As a parent of a teen who may be struggling with depression, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD, trauma or other challenges, we can feel powerless at times. These challenges are complex and can sometimes require outside, professional help.
At our Katy, TX location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we are ready to help your teen. This is what we specialize in. If you are ready to start, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Talk with one of our Teen Therapists
Begin the healing process today
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide a variety of therapy approaches that are supported by research and shown to be effective. Some of the teen therapy and young adult counseling we offer are:
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Group Therapy for Teens
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Couples Therapy & Marriage Counseling
Couples Therapy and Marriage Counseling can be very effective. The secret ingredients to success is each person willing to look at themselves and work to do things differently, together. When a marriage counselor or couples therapist has this to work with, the success rate can be very high.
Sometimes life will throw challenges at us that create situations that put strain on our marriage or relationship. It may be due to:
Choices and actions that have been made by one partner.
Financial downturn in the economy creating financial strain.
Feeling like you're growing apart.
Feeling like you don't have as much in common as you used to.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker - Supervisor (LCSW-S), Board Certified in Neurofeedback, EMDR trained, and a Certified Brain Health Professional through the Amen Clinics. He has provided therapy to teens, young adults, and families since 2003 and is the Owner & Lead Clinician at Katy Teen & Family Counseling and Katy Counseling for Men.
He specializes in leading teams of high performing therapists who also specialize in teen therapy, counseling young adults, and family counseling.
Jason is also a leader in the field of teen, young adult, and family counseling providing expert coaching and technical assistance to teen Residential Treatment Centers across the country.
Jason is also a regular contributor to various magazines and publications lending his expertise to various mental health related topics. You can check these articles out on our "Featured Articles" service page on our website.
If you are ready to start teen counseling or young adult therapy call, text, or email us today!
Phone Number: 281-519-6364