What Can I Expect in Teen & Family Counseling?
If you haven't been in teen counseling or family therapy before, you don't know what to expect. There may be many questions around what therapy will look like. I can share from the Katy Teen & Family Counseling perspective what you can expect in teen therapy and family counseling. This perspective comes from 17+ years’ experience in working with teens and families. Due to this experience and specializing in teen therapy and family counseling, we may do things differently from other practices to better meet your teen and families needs. This can give you a high level picture of what you can expect throughout the course of teen therapy and family counseling.
The First Phone Call
We believe that the therapy process begins with the first phone call inquiring about our services. We understand that reaching out to a therapist can be a very difficult step. It can create anxiety, stress, and uncertainty just for starters.
Devoted and Committed to Client Care
One of our values at Katy Teen & Family Counseling is, "We Are Devoted & Committed to Client Care". Though you may not be an 'official' client during that first phone call, our value is to be devoted and committed to helping you regardless of what you decide.
We want to help in that first phone call to alleviate the anxiety, stress, and uncertainty. Our goal is to answer the call immediately, soon there after, or within 24 hours. It can be frustrating to leave a voice mail for a therapist and you wait for a number of days to hear back. The Owner and Lead Clinician at Katy Teen & Family Counseling will answer every inquiry phone call or email.
We don't want you to wait for answers and want to provide a specialist in teen therapy and family counseling to talk to on that first call.
As we understand how difficult it is to reach out and find a therapist who specializes in working with teens, Jason will spend the time needed to answer any of your questions, provide some guidance, fully explain our approach, and more. His goal is to help you get out of the inquiry call as much information possible for you to make the best decision for your teen and family.
The Initial Introduction to Your Therapist: Empathy & Acceptance
One of our values at Katy Teen & Family Counseling is "Empathy & Acceptance". When you arrive to Katy Teen & Family Counseling, you will find a warm, inviting, and accepting environment. Your therapist will come out and introduce themselves and walk you back to their office.
Our other therapists may introduce themselves to you as well. We respect and honor the decision to seek out a teen therapy and family counseling specialist. You being here means that you are fighting for your teen and family and demonstrates your courage in starting therapy.
All of the teen therapy and family counseling specialists at Katy Teen & Family Counseling are parents ourselves. Though we may not have the same struggles with our children and teens, we know what it's like to love and care for a child or teen and the hurt we feel when our children or teens hurt. We also know what it's like as parents to be in a position where we can feel powerless to help. Whether it's a medical issue our child or teen has experienced or emotional or behavioral challenges.
We are not in a position to judge others based on the struggles they may be experiencing. We are in a position to feel your pain and heartache and we have the ability as therapists to help you through that.
The Initial Session
After the initial introduction, we start the initial therapy session. The initial session typically lasts 90 minutes. We like to meet with both the teen and their parents in this session. This helps our therapists by being able to see both the teen and the parent's point of view regarding the struggles. We also like for the parents to be in session to make sure that we will be a fit for the teen and the family.
At the beginning of this session, we review the policies and agreements and answer any questions you may have. Once we have reviewed the policies and agreements (which usually takes 5-7 minutes), it's time for introductions.
We provide a bit of personal and professional background to help you and your teen get to know us. We then ask that you also introduce yourselves. This is a low stress introduction and we would just like to know what you like to do, interests, hobbies, etc.
After introductions, we spend the rest of the session discussing what brings you to teen counseling and family therapy. The first session is not a deep dive into the inner workings and causes of the struggles (believe me, there will be plenty of time for that in the proceeding sessions). We would like to hear from the teen their perspective on the struggles and we also like to get the parents perceptions.
We also believe that having both the teen and the parent's in the first session sets the standard of family involvement. We strongly believe that family involvement is a critical piece in the teen's growth and particularly, long term change.
The Assessment Phase
After the initial session comes the assessment phase. The assessment phase can last anywhere between 2-6 sessions. This is a time where the teen therapist and family counselor meets with the teen on-on-one to explore the causes behind the current struggle. The therapist will be working together with the teen to identify potential causes and triggers of the struggles.
This is also a time where the therapist will be working to develop a relationship of trust with the teen. In order to be an effective teen counselor and family therapist, trust needs to be strong in the relationship.
From the start, we let the teen know that we'll ask a lot of questions but just because we ask, doesn't mean they need to answer. There may be questions we ask that they may not feel comfortable answering at that time. As our relationship of trust continues to grow and develop, they may feel more comfortable at that time to talk about it. We will continue to nudge here and there to help the teen talk about important topics but we will never push.
Once the therapist is able to get a clearer picture of what may be driving the current struggles, they identify the most appropriate and effective treatment plan going forward. As we implement that treatment plan, we move from the assessment phase to the treatment phase.
In the treatment phase, the teen therapist and family counselor has identified the treatment strategy needed. The therapist will contact and/or meet with the family to review the treatment direction the teen counselor and family therapist believes is best.
We want the parents and the teen to be involved in this decision making. We are the specialists in teen counseling and family therapy. The teen is the expert, knowing themselves best. The family is the expert in their family system. Together, we can create and fine tune the best treatment strategy going forward.
There are various treatment approaches that the therapist may recommend. Below are the various treatment approaches that we use at Katy Teen & Family Counseling. All our treatment approaches have been supported by research and shown to be effective.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is an effective approach in working with teens. CBT is also one of the most researched approaches for teen depression. CBT focuses on the teen's inner emotional world and challenging what they may see.
Irrational Core Beliefs
CBT focuses on identifying the irrational core belief a teen may hold about themselves. Based on repeated experiences a teen may have, this false core belief begins to develop. For example, if a teen is bullied regularly, they may start to develop a negative core belief that, "I'm a loser", "I am broken", "I am weak" or other beliefs. CBT wants to challenge these faulty core beliefs and replace them with accurate, empowering beliefs.
This irrational core belief drives what are called automatic thoughts. These thoughts are the pesky, intrusive thoughts we have little to no control over that pop into our minds.
The automatic thoughts can be relentless. A teen may start to believe these automatic thoughts that are not true. Because of the negative core belief and the stream of negative automatic thoughts, the teen may experience emotional or behavioral challenges. Teen depression, teen anxiety, panic attacks, substance abuse can come from the negative core belief about one’s self.
Teen trauma is a life experience that may be a significant influencer of a negative core belief. Teen trauma therapy and PTSD treatment using Trauma Focused - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help teens who have experienced trauma.
ABC's of CBT
CBT also focuses on the Antecedent Event that creates the thoughts and Behavior and what the Consequences of the behavior are. For example, if a teen is triggered by mom or dad telling them "no", what behavior does this trigger and what consequences follow that behavior. Are they positive consequences that the teen enjoys or are they negative consequences that the teen doesn't like.
We look at the consequences of behavior and match that to what the teen would like instead of negative consequences. We look at the negative core belief, the automatic thoughts and how those impact his response to triggers.
CBT is Hard Work
A critical and key component to CBT is providing homework assignments that the teen will need to practice between sessions. In order for the negative core belief to change, the teen needs to practice in between sessions those skills learned in session.
This is where family therapy comes in as well. We can help the family members know and understand what the teen is working on in teen counseling. This enables the family members to help support the teen during the week and remind the teen about their homework assignments.
Due to the requirement to practice the skills in between sessions, this is where some teens fall short. Week after week in returning to therapy, some teens report that they have not practiced during the week. At this point, we may meet with the family again to see if CBT is the best option or if we need to go a different direction.
CBT Can Help With Various Teen Struggles
CBT has been shown to be effective with a wide variety of teen struggles. Those struggles include the following:
Counseling for Panic Attacks
CBT is a great teen counseling and family therapy treatment approach for the right teen. The teen will need to be highly motivated and committed to complete therapy assignments between sessions. If not, there are other options that do not require the teen to do therapy homework during the week.
Neurofeedback Therapy for Teens
Neurofeedback is not talk therapy and does not need the teen to be motivated to work on therapy assignments between sessions. Neurofeedback is an approach to teen therapy that has shown to be effective. The only motivation the teen needs is to show up for each session.
Neurofeedback uses 19 sensors placed in a cap that looks like a swimmers cap. These sensors record the teen's brain waves and identifies areas in the brain where it may be over or under performing. We create a brain map of this over or under performing and combine this with the symptoms the teen is reporting.
We then create a training program for the teen to help the brain perform normally. We can take teen depression for example. Based on the brain map that was created, we compare the performance of the teen's brain to a comprehensive data base of other brains of teens the same age and gender.
From this comparison, we create a therapeutic training program to help the brain learn regulate the regions of the brain causing the teen depression, teen anxiety, ADHD/ADD, teen trauma, PTSD, substance abuse and more.
Neurofeedback is different than traditional talk therapy in that with neurofeedback, we can identify the regions of the brain that is a factor in your teen's struggle. Where traditional talk therapy relies on the therapists skill, education, experience, etc., neurofeedback therapy relies on identifying the regions of the brain that create the problems and scientifically helping to resolve the struggles.
As I tell the teens and families that I work with using neurofeedback therapy as the treatment approach, all the teen needs to do is show up, sit down, relax and let the treatment and training protocol do the work. If they can do this, they are likely to succeed in reducing the struggle they came in to address.
Of course, a healthy diet, limit caffeine use, plenty of consistent restful sleep at night, and at least 8-10 hours of sleep are what the teen can focus on in between neurofeedback therapy sessions. This will help to improve the brains ability to learn and change.
Typical Course of Neurofeedback Therapy for Teens
Neurofeedback typically takes between 30-40 sessions which are one our each. Over the course of the 30-40 sessions, the brain is being reinforced thousands of times to communicate and perform as a non-depressed brain would.
Neurofeedback works in the majority of teens who complete the 30-40 sessions. Though it does not work for everyone, it is the top treatment approach that we would recommend due to its effectiveness. It doesn't rely on the teen completing therapy homework assignments. It does not rely on the teen having a strong understanding of their emotions and what causes the struggles. All neurofeedback relies on is the teen showing up each time and participating in playing a video game with their mind.
The training program consists of a video game that is responsive to a specific way the brain is performing. We'll use the depression example above. When the teen's brain is communicating and performing like a teen without depression, the game responds to this and the teen can control the avatar on the video game. When the brain communicates or performs as a teen brain with depression, he cannot control the avatar.
Neurofeedback therapy can help teens who are struggling with various difficulties. Some of the ways that neurofeedback therapy can help are:
Neurofeedback for PTSD
Neurofeedback for Anxiety
Neurofeedback for Substance Abuse
Neurofeedback for Gifted Students and Peak Academic Performance
Neurofeedback for Talented Teen Athletes and Peak Athletic Performance
We provide neurofeedback in Katy, Tx and the Houston area. Neurofeedback therapy can help your teen and family through the current struggles you are experiencing.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a teen therapy approach that was created in the 1980's and has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of challenges. We are excited that we can provide EMDR for teens in Katy, Texas, and the Houston area. It is a powerful approach for those who would meet criteria for this approach.
EMDR can help teens who may find it hard to talk in therapy or complete therapy assignments between sessions. EMDR was originally designed for those who have experienced trauma. If you are a parent who is looking for trauma treatment in Katy, Texas, or the Houston area, I would encourage you to look at EMDR as an option.
EMDR focuses on the emotional part of the brain and accessing "stuck" trauma that has not been processed. This unprocessed trauma creates strong emotions which influence the teens behavior. EMDR is a trauma therapy that normally quicker at resolving teen trauma compared to traditional talk therapy.
EMDR utilizes bi-lateral stimulation through the teen tracking with their eyes the therapist’s fingers moving in front of them from left to right. The teen can also utilize small paddles that fit in your hand that vibrate left to right.
We have found that this back and forth movement helps process emotions. Much like Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep that helps process the days learning, experiences, feelings, etc., EMDR utilizes this same mechanism.
Over the years, EMDR has been recognized for being able to help treat life struggles other than teen trauma or PTSD. We have successfully utilized EMDR for teens in Katy, Tx and the Houston area. In addition to trauma therapy and PTSD treatment, other struggles that we have found EMDR to be effective for are:
EMDR for Teen Depression
EMDR for Teen Anxiety
EMDR for Talented Teen Athletes (i.e., sport injury anxiety)
EMDR for Teens Who Have Been Bullied
EMDR for Teens Who Have Lost a Loved One
EMDR for Teens Who Have Lost a Pet
EMDR for Teens Who Experienced an Emotional Breakup
Having both neurofeedback therapy and EMDR as options for treatment, we can better serve a wider variety of teens. Some teens are quiet by nature and struggle to talk in therapy sessions. Some teens can't make sense of or explain their struggles. There are therapeutic approaches for every teen who has the commitment to participate in therapy.
Okay, so family counseling may not be in the same category of therapy approaches as CBT, Neurofeedback, and EMDR. Yet, as I have been providing therapy for teens and families since 2003, I have come to see how vital family therapy is.
As I'm sure you understand as parents, when we meet with a teen in teen therapy, we hear one side of the story. We all have the propensity inside us to reflect our own personal situation more favorably than maybe what it actually is. Perception can be reality despite the facts.
Family Therapy and Positive Emotionally Corrective Experience
When a teen sees that the parents are willing to join with them in family therapy, it automatically sends several positive messages to the teen:
I am no longer alone
For many teens, they have been battling with these struggles in silence for a long time. They may have tried to explain what they are experiencing but were unable to do so effectively. Some teens cannot put words to what they are feeling and why. Some teens are able to explain it well but still feel misunderstood. Family therapy helps the teen know that you're in it together and the teen is no longer alone in this battle.
A lot of teens, due to their behavior, have a negative core belief that they are a problem, broken, not worthy of love. When a teen sees the parents participating, the message it also gives is that they are not the problem but it's a family problem.
Having parents who are willing to make changes helps the teen feel like they are not broken or unworthy of love. So many emotionally corrective experiences happen just by the parents showing up for family therapy ready to work.
I am No Longer the "Problem Child"
There is something about family therapy that helps the teen feel not the main source of the problems. Granted, their behavior may still be the main source of the problem. And, starting family therapy seems to spread out the blame for the problems across the family in the teen's perception. This typically helps the teens defenses drop a bit where more work can be done in teen therapy and family counseling.
Having parents who acknowledge that they could do things better, even if they are small things, helps relieve the pressure the teen feels. You may be a parent that does not believe that there is anything you need to change. Participating in family therapy anyhow to learn the tools the teen is using will help your teen with long term changes.
It is now convenient to start family counseling in Katy, Tx and those in the Houston area. Family therapy can help not only the teen find lasting change but can help each family member learn more about themselves and the teens they love.
The Whole Story and Nothing But the Whole Story
Family therapy can help the teen therapist and family counselor gather more information as they see the whole story laid out before them. Just working with the teen or just working with the parents will give them only half the story. You would think that the two halves make a whole, right? If you have half the story from the teen and half the story from the parents, two halves make a whole.
Having the teen and the parents together in family therapy presenting their 'sides' of the story can help change perceptions and improve communication. Communication is generally the first thing to break down as the teen's behavior impacts the family. Working together to explore each other's perceptions, the impact each has on each other, and strategies to move forward has a synergistic energy to it that fast tracks therapy.
Family therapy is a powerful approach in therapy that helps restore healthy communication. Family counseling also helps us see how our behaviors impact others in the family and, on a deeper level. Family therapy also helps each family member identify what part they played in the problem and what they can do differently.
After the Treatment Phase: Successful Completion
The end of the treatment phase occurs when the teen and family feel like they have met their goals. The teen is happy, responsible, and motivated. The parents have confidence and trust again in their teen and the family is happy and connected again.
Usually this stage comes after a lot of hard work by your teen and family. You placed trust in your teen counselor and family therapist to help you and your family at a very vulnerable time. Though the therapist may miss working with your teen and family, we are also thrilled when you no longer need us due to your success!
Katy Teen & Family Counseling:
Therapy for Families in Katy, Tx and The Houston Area & Teen Counseling in Katy, Tx and the Houston Area
If you haven't experienced teen therapy or family counseling before, there can be a lot of questions about what it's like. The hardest step in teen therapy and family counseling is often that first step to pick up the phone can call a therapist. We are hoping that you have gained a glimpse into the approach that Katy Teen & Family Counseling takes in teen therapy and family counseling. We work hard to make this process of starting therapy as stress free as possible.
If you are reading this, it's likely that you are looking for someone to work with your teen and family. If you are concerned that your teen is struggling, Katy Teen & Family Counseling can help. We have teen therapists who specialize in working with teens. To be effective in working with teens, we must also include the family. Our specialists in teen therapy also specialize in family counseling. If you are interested in starting this journey, all you need to do is follow three simple steps:
1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
2. Speak with our caring teen therapy specialists.
3. Take that first step and call or email us. Jason Drake, LCSW-S, Owner and Lead Clinician at Katy Teen & Family Counseling will help you in any way he can.
Other Family Therapy and Teen Counseling Services Provided at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling we provide the following tee counseling and family therapy services:
Teen Therapy for Self-harm
Teen Therapy for Self-esteem and Self-worth
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.