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Why Teens Open Up to Therapists: The Role of Acceptance & Authenticity in Teen Therapy

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As parents, we understand that our teenagers won't open up to us about everything. It's a normal part of being a teen. This is not to say that teens won’t talk to their parents about anything.

As a teen therapist I see many families who have great relationships. Teenage sons talk to their dads about sports, video games they're playing, school, etc. It does tends to be a bit more challenging for teen boys to open up about various other topics.

Teenage daughters are usually better about opening up. They like to share about all the things they and their friends are doing, grades they're getting, goals and dreams, etc. However there are still things teen girls struggle to talk to their parents about.

There are some issues that teenagers simply have a hard time discussing with parents. These usually revolve around their struggles with emotional or behavioral challenges.

There are several reasons teens have told us that they have a difficult time opening up to their parents:

  • They state that they don't want to disappoint their parents

  • Another reason is they don't want to add more stress to their parents lives

  • And another is simply, embarrassment

A Teenager's Developmental Stage

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Some teens also worry that they may not be able to adequately explain to their parents what they are experiencing internally. For some teens, this may be the first time they have experienced problematic anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, depression, etc.

If the teen feels like they can't clearly articulate what they are experiencing, the next concern is that their parents may not be able to understand. So naturally, why tell my parents if I don't even know how to explain it, they won't understand it, and then can't help with it.

Teens are also seeking to create healthy distance from their parents. They are in the process of trying to figure out who they are, what they believe, what their values are, etc. The ultimate goal in this developmental process is to establish healthy independence from their parents and self reliance as they become a young adult and move into adulthood, eventually.

To be independent and self reliant for some teenagers mean that they need to deal with the emotional or behavioral challenges on their own. What they may not understand is that even the most independent and self reliant adult still draws on outside resources for help and support when needed.

Many things we can solve on our own. Some take outside support and help. That's what family, friends, and yes, even teen therapists are for!

Teenagers Will Open Up To a Therapist

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In my first session with a teenager, I explain to parents the role of the teen therapist. While a teen therapist is friendly, we are not a friend. A teen therapist also is not a traditional adult either. Teen therapists are not the teen’s parent, coach, or teacher and play a different role for the teenager and their family.

A teen therapist is a unique adult that creates a space of acceptance. In this space, teens feel accepted and open up about their struggles. It is also crucial the teen counselor be authentic. Teens can smell phoniness a mile away and tend to not trust disingenuous adults.

These two qualities -- acceptance and authenticity -- are reasons why teens open up.


Carl Rogers was one of the pioneers of modern therapy. He believed that creating a space of acceptance was the cornerstone of therapy. Or another way to put it is unconditional positive regard.

As teen therapists, we see the teen with the problems they enter therapy with. We also hold unconditional positive regard for the teen. We recognize and identify the problems while also seeing the teen as they will be down the road when they overcome those problems. And that is what we work towards.

Acceptance does not mean the teen therapist approves of all the teenagers behaviors. The teen may be doing things that are risky and destructive. The teen counselor should explore the dangers and consequences of these behaviors to help the teen make different choices.

Acceptance does not stop conversation. It seeks to understand why they teenager is struggling instead of rushing to conclusions.

Acceptance is not an endorsement of bad behavior. Acceptance is valuing the teenager as they are, having a belief in their potential, while supporting the teen in achieving their goals through teen counseling.


Carl Rogers also believed that authenticity was key in effective teen therapy. The teenager has to know the teen counselor is genuine and authentic.

Teenagers want to connect with a teen therapist who is relatable and human. If a teen counselor tries to be anything else other than their real, authentic, genuine self, they will not be able reach the teenager.

These two qualities of acceptance and being authentic create a healing space that the teen can trust. This helps the teen feel more comfortable opening up and talking about their struggles.

Begin Teen Therapy With a Teen Counselor at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Katy, Tx & Houston

It can feel so overwhelming for teens who struggle with emotional or behavioral challenges (It can feel that way for us adults as well). As teens, many know how they feel but struggle to explain what they are feeling. It's hard to have hope that things will get better when we struggle to clearly articulate what we are going through.

Our teen therapists at Katy Teen & Family Counseling can help. We have over 50 years of combined experience in teen therapy, young adult counseling, and family therapy.

Things like teen depression, anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, and other struggles can be overcome leading to a happy and successful future.

If you are ready to work with a specialist who can help you overcome these challenges, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:

  1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling

  2. Speak with one of our teen counselors who specialize in teen therapy

  3. Let us help you overcome the struggles that stand in your way of happiness & success

Other Therapy & Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Serving Katy, Tx & Houston

At the Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide other counseling and therapeutic services. We provide a variety of specialized teen therapy, young adult counseling, and family counseling services.

Parenting struggling teens or young adults can also place a strain on the marriage or relationship. As a result, we provide marriage counseling and couples therapy.

Below are a few of the specialized therapy and counseling services we provide at Katy Teen & Family Counseling:

Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy

Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)

Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT)

About the Author

Man in dress shirt, tan sports coat, smiling. He is a teen therapist katy, tx and teen counselor katy, tx 77494. He provides teen therapy katy, tx and teen counseling katy, tx 77494.

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.

Quique 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 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

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