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Tips for Parenting an Anxious Teen

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For a long time, the number one reason parents would contact us at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, was for teen depression. Over the course of this last year, teen anxiety has become the number one reason parents contact us.

Having a teen who experiences teen anxiety is challenging in many ways. The first is it hurts our hearts as parents to see our teens struggle with anxiety. Second, as parents, it can leave us feeling powerless to help.

When parents call me to seek therapy for their teen they will talk with me about what they have been doing to help their teen with anxiety. In each of these discussions, the parents were using great approaches to help their teen cope with anxiety. Yet, they are finding that though helpful, their teen continues to struggle.

Anxiety Whack-a-Mole

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Anxiety is a wily creature. Sometimes it can feel a little like Whack-a-Mole. You tackle one symptom of anxiety, it seems to be improving, then another pops it's head up. You tackle that symptom and another pops up and so on.

When parents call looking for a teen therapist, I take time to talk with them. It is a value of ours to be committed and devoted to client care and this starts from the first phone call.

Parents are often anxious about getting their teen help with the anxiety the teen is experiencing. This phone call is an opportunity for me to help parents reduce some of their anxiety. It also is an opportunity to help them as they work hard to help their teen mange teen anxiety.

When parents talk about approaches that therapist use it's important to validate those approaches. Sometimes, parents just need to hear from a therapist that they are on the right track. I can then talk to them about other approaches to consider that may be helpful as they are looking for a therapist.

Tips for Help Parents Helping Their Teens with Anxiety

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The tips below can help center parents while they are helping their teens who have anxiety. These tips are foundational as they will position parents where they can maximize their help for their teen. It also provides information and help should a parent need to reach out for additional support.

1. Managing Our Own Parental Anxiety

I know how hard it is as a parent to not feel responsible for a teen who is struggling with anxiety. As parents, we should have the answers. As parents, we hurt when our kids our hurting. We may feel like we are letting our teens down the longer they struggle with teen anxiety.

Parents may begin experiencing their own anxiety in trying to help their teens. It is stressful and challenging in helping teens overcome anxiety. We want our teens to be happy and achieve to the full potential and we can see how anxiety is preventing this.

Some things to keep in mind as parents that can help manage their own anxiety:

  • You're Not Alone

This may not solve your the struggle with anxiety that your teen is experiencing. Yet, there are many other parents in Katy, Tx and Houston who are in the same teen anxiety boat. Factors outside your control may have triggered your teen's and many other teen's expression of anxiety.

  • It Takes Time and There is Hope

There is nothing more that a parent would like than to have their teen no longer experience anxiety -- right now. Teen anxiety is complex and takes time to learn to manage. Parents can readily solve many of their teen's life problems. Teen anxiety just may take a little longer. And it can and is overcome by many teens here in the Katy, Tx and Houston area.

  • You're Doing Your Best

It's not common for parents to be trained in how to help others overcome anxiety. You are doing your best with a very complex situation. If you are doing your best, know that your best will lead to success over time.

  • What Would You Tell a Family Member or Friend

If you had a family member or friend in the same position and they were doing the best they could, what would you tell them? Is what you would tell them different than what you are telling yourself in this situation? Sometimes, we can be harder on ourselves when in fact, we need to practice grace and self-compassion.

Parents, this is a difficult emotional struggle that your teen is engaged in. You love your teen and you are doing the best you can. Anxiety can be overcome and managed and it does take time. There are many approaches supported by research that have been shown to be effective. The answers are there and you will find them as you love and support your teen.

2. Parental Self-Care

To help our teen overcome the anxiety in their lives, parents need to be intentional about their own self-care. Life doesn't stand still when a parent has a teen who has anxiety. Work, relationships, other kids, and parent's other responsibilities and obligations continue.

On top of your daily life responsibilities and obligations, parents regularly have a tug at their hearts for their teen who struggles with anxiety. Parents research, talk with others, and work hard to find ways to help their teens.

In line with number one above, parents can start to experience an increase in their own anxiety as they work to help their teen overcome their teen anxiety. For parents to be most effective, it's important to have the emotional and physical energy to do so. Being intentional in self-care can help. Self-care helps parents to manage the stress in their lives which can help prevent emotional or physical exhaustion.

The "intentional" part of parental self-care is the key word. If parents can make regular self-care a priority, they will find themselves in a much better position to help their teens with anxiety.

Some self-care ideas can include:

  • Taking a few minutes each morning in meditation

  • Exercising for 30 minutes 3-4 times a week

  • Eating healthy to ensure you are fueling your mind and body

  • Having a date night each week with their spouse or partner

  • Planning and engaging in a hobby at least one time each week

Whatever your healthy self-care is, being intentional and prioritizing it weekly is key. Intentional, weekly self-care will help parents to be more effective in their daily life responsibilities and obligations.

Practicing intentional, weekly self-care will also help parents have more creativity and emotional and physical energy to help their teen overcome anxiety. Intentional self-care can help parents manage their own anxiety in helping their teen through the process of learning to manage teen anxiety.

3. There is Help Readily Available -- Teen Therapy & Family Counseling

There are varying levels of severity when it comes to teen anxiety:

  • For some, teen anxiety is a minor annoyance that does not interfere with them achieving to their full potential

  • For others, teen anxiety impacts the teen to a greater degree. However, with conscious effort, they can still achieve to their full potential and,

  • For others, teen anxiety has developed into an impediment that prevents them from achieving to their full potential. At this level, teen anxiety begins to impact their self-esteem and overall happiness in life.

As a parent, it can be challenging to know when to seek professional help. There may be several understandable reasons for this:

  • Teens are not always the best at communicating how they are feeling regarding anxiety.

  • Teen may not have experienced this level of anxiety before. As a result, they may not understand what it is or know how to explain what they are feeling.

  • Teens may not want to add more stress to their parents’ plate. They may not say anything believing they can handle it.

  • Teens may not want to disappoint their parents. Emotional struggles can carry with it a stigma. Teens may feel that telling their parents about their anxiety may cause them to be disappointed in them.

  • Due to social media where much of the teen’s expression of themselves is through texting. This has made it difficult for parents to observe their teen in social situations masking much of how the teen may be feeling.

As parents identify anxiety in their teens, the first step, depending on the severity, is to work with the teen themselves to help them manage their anxiety. If the anxiety is at minimal levels, this may be all the teen needs to help them manage their anxiety.

Anxiety though, has a tendency to evolve. What starts out as minor anxiety may grow and build into more severe forms of anxiety. Reaching out for professional help is available if and when it is needed. If you are new to therapy and you haven't engaged in this process before, the below may help.

When to Seek Out Help From a Professional

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Anxiety is a complicated emotional struggle that is made more complicated due to the climate we are currently in. The pandemic has intensified the symptoms of anxiety that teens experience today.

On top of the pandemic, the schools in the Katy, Tx and Houston area are some of the more competitive schools in the country. Taking these two things together: the impact of the pandemic and continuing to achieve at high levels -- creates an environment ripe for anxiety.

When parents reach out is it often after they have done everything they can yet the teen anxiety persists. In talking with parents, the things they have done most often have been the right things. Yet, anxiety is complex and often requires outside help.

Some challenges that can prevent a parent from reaching out include:

  • Option overload. There are so many options in the Katy, Tx and Houston area for therapists that it can feel overwhelming.

  • Among the many choices are different types of therapists. Knowing the difference between an LCSW, LPC, and LMFT and which would be the most appropriate can be challenging.

  • Finances can also delay parents reaching out for professional help as well. Using a provider who takes the parent's insurance makes financial sense but there are few who take insurance in the Katy, Tx and Houston area. This can limit options in who your teen and family see for therapy.

Knowing when to reach out for help will differ for each teen and their unique experience. It is a decision that is made between the parents and their teen.

Finding the Right Therapist for Your Teen & Family

There are trained professionals who can help your teen learn to manage and overcome their anxiety. Below are some suggestions that may help you navigate finding the right therapist for your teen:

Sorting Through the Options

There are therapist who specialize in working with teens and families. Providing therapy to teens is different than providing therapy for adults. Therapists have to approach teens differently in therapy than they would an adult due to the developmental difference.

A teen therapist has to have the right personality in working with teens. Finding a therapist who specializes in working with teens, has done so for several years, is usually a good indicator that they have the right personality for the job.

Specialists vs. Generalists

Generalist therapists may work with teens but they also may work with children, adults, seniors, etc. This means their focus and training is more general in nature to accommodate a wide variety of ages.

Specialists in teen therapy and family counseling work specifically with teens and families. This means that specialists in teen counseling and family therapy have maintained a specific focus in training geared specifically towards teens and families. Finding a therapist who specializes in providing teen counseling and family therapy is ideal.

Alphabet Soup -- LCSW, LMFT and LPC

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) are trained to work with families. Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) are often trained to work with individuals and not families. There are some LPC's who are great at providing family therapy. For long term success, it is important to find a therapist who also will work with the family.

Within a relatively short period of time, the therapist will no longer be in your lives. Where teen therapist and family counselors are temporary, the parents are lifetime. Asking your potential therapist how they involve the family is important.

Insurance vs. Private Pay

In the Katy, Tx and Houston area, there are fewer therapists who take insurance than those teen therapists and family counselors who are private pay. Though using insurance will cost less, there are several reasons why a teen and family may be better off through private pay:

  • No Diagnosis in Your Teen's Permanent Medical Record

Insurance companies requires the therapist to add a psychiatric diagnosis to your teen and families medical record. This psychiatric diagnosis follows your teen for their lifetime.

To require the therapist to add a psychiatric diagnosis for a teen, who will likely not be the same teen a few months, year or years from now, does not make good therapeutic sense.

This psychiatric diagnosis could also have the potential to impact future opportunities. Under private pay, your therapist does not add a diagnosis to your teen's medical record.

  • Your in Control of Your Care

Private pay allows you more options in terms of choosing a therapist. Under insurance, the teen and family are often limited to those providers that the insurance company uses.

  • Increased Confidentiality and Privacy

Private pay ensures that your information remains confidential. For preauthorization's and justification for continued therapy, insurance companies require require additional information to authorize of continue your therapy. You do not experience this in private pay.

You Are Hiring a Therapist for an Important Job

It can be helpful, when searching for a teen therapist and family counselor, to use the lens that you are hiring that person for an important job. In fact, it is one of the most important jobs you could hire for. In essence, each call is like a job interview for that therapist. Through this lens, you should feel more comfortable in asking the therapist any and every question you need to.

Katy Teen & Family Counseling:

Therapy for Teen Anxiety in Katy, Tx and Houston

At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we have the experience to help your teen learn to manage and overcome teen anxiety. Our therapists specialize in teen counseling and family therapy. We provide therapeutic support for the teens and families in the Katy, Tx and Houston area.

If your teen and family are looking for additional support in overcoming teen anxiety and you are ready to start your journey, you can follow these three simple steps:

  1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling

  2. Speak with a therapist specializing in teen therapy and family counseling

  3. Let our teen counseling and family therapy specialists help your teen learn to manage and overcome the anxiety in their lives

Other Teen Therapy & Family Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling

At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we help teens in the Katy, Tx and Houston area, who struggle with anxiety, learn to manage and overcome their anxiety. We also support parents in helping their teens maintain the therapeutic gains long term. We also provide other teen therapy and family counseling service such as:

Neurofeedback Therapy

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

Man with glasses, pink dress shirt, and grey sports jacket smiling. He provides neurofeedback for depression katy, tx and teen neurofeedback treatment houston, tx. He also provides ptsd treatment katy, tx 77494.

Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker. He specializes in teen Therapy & family counseling. He has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003.

Jason helps teens in the Katy, Tx and Houston area who struggle with ADHD/ADD , depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, and other challenges.

He also works with talented teen athletes and Gifted students who experience unique challenges.

Jason uses CBT, EMDR, Neurofeedback, FFT, and Motivational Interviewing. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we help teens in the Katy, Tx and Houston area.


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