Scheduling Teens for Teen Counseling: A Dilemma Parents Can Face
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Competing Priorities Creating Difficult Decisions for Parents & Teens
We love providing therapy to teens. But being a teen therapist is not for every therapist. If you have been looking for a teen counselor, you have probably discovered that not many therapists work with teens. Not only do we love providing teen therapy, but we specialize in this area.
We hire therapists with the schedule of teens and busy families in mind. We understand that in working with teens, it will require after school hours and/or weekend hours. As a result, our therapists all offer after school and/or weekend hours.
As a practice that works with teens, we have identified three factors that sometimes can create a dilemma for parents who are looking for a teen therapist:
Teen mental health is now a "National Emergency" (more on this in the next section). More teens than ever are struggling with emotional and behavioral challenges and seeking counseling.
Not many therapists work with teens let or specialize in working with teens. This means that in our community, we have far more teens seeking therapy than qualified therapists to provide teen counseling.
For those therapists who specialize in working with teens, the afterschool hours are the first to be booked often leaving daytime hours during school open for scheduling (temporarily - more on this below).
So, parents, I am going to try my best to talk you into taking those daytime hours if that is what is available at the time.
I'd like to give you a perspective from what we see in working with teens and parents who do schedule during those daytime hours. I will give you some background, identify challenges that parents face, some insight on what we see in working with teens during the daytime hours, and also provide suggestions.
I'll end with a message of hope that you receive this message in the spirit that it's intended which is:
A genuine desire to help provide information to help remove a common obstacle we see in teens receiving timely therapy.
Teen Mental Health a "National Emergency"
In October of 2021 the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Children and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children's National Hospital, all came out with a joint proclamation related to teen mental health. In this proclamation, they declared that teen mental health has now hit "National Emergency" levels. The Surgeon General shortly thereafter came out with a similar proclamation. As teen therapists, we see it.
For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has given directives to their physicians to screen teens for depression -- regardless of whether they see symptoms or not. The reason being is teen depression and suicide have significantly increased over the past 10 years.
For perspective, Katy Teen & Family Counseling opened in October of 2020. In January of 2022, we moved into an office where we went from 4 offices to 8. In 15 months, there was such a high demand for teen counseling and young adult therapy we needed to expand so that we could help meet that need.
School OR Therapy: The Dilemma Some Teens & Parents Face
While there may not be many therapists who enjoy working with teenagers, at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we are full of therapists who made this their area of specialization. When we hire a new therapist, their schedule quickly fills up.
Of course, the afterschool appointments are those appointments of choice in teen therapy. And those are the appointments that fill up the quickest. What our therapists are faced with are appointment availability during school that are difficult to fill.
Parents of teens who need teen counseling are faced with a dilemma:
"Do I pull my teenager from school for therapy or settle for a therapist who doesn't specialize in teens but has after-school appointments available?"
What We See in Working With Teens Who Schedule During the Day: How We Can Help
When we have a parent who calls in for therapy services for their teen, we currently only have daytime appointments available, and they opt not to see one of our therapists, it causes some heartburn. As parents ourselves, we fully understand the inner conflict that you face. As therapists, we see a teen we could have helped not coming in for that help.
And as teen therapists, we also have a unique perspective based on experience that parents may not have the benefit to draw on. The below is a behind the scenes of what it really is like when, for the time being, you may need to take a daytime appointment.
As therapists, we know that:
We Miss an Opportunity to Help Your Teen
Because we specialize in teen counseling, chances are high we can help the teen overcome the challenges that are causing intrapersonal, interpersonal, and academic struggles in a short amount of time.
Teen Therapy Averages 4-5 Months: It's Temporary
Teen therapy is short term. If a daytime appointment is scheduled, the worst-case scenario is the teen would be pulled from school for approximately 4 - 5 months.
Four months may feel long but if it means your teen overcomes their depression, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, trauma, PTSD, this obstacle is removed, and they can then perform to their full potential in all aspects of life.
Best case, and more likely scenario is that as we prioritize our after-school appointments for teens, once one becomes available, we offer that to the teen and family next in line. This results in, on average, 1.5-2 months of daytime appointments.
The Up Front Short Term Cost in Time & Effort Can Have Positive Long Term Benefits
While we highly value education as part of a healthy teenager's life, we also know that should the teen address and overcome the challenges they face, the temporary need to pull them from school will pay off the rest of their education, future career, and personal life.
Your Teen Has Academic Protection Under the Law
Your teen is protected under the ADA and 504. This means the school administration and teachers are obligated to ensure they provide the time and resources to ensure your teen can achieve like they normally would if they weren't pulled from school for therapy appointments.
Our experience has been overwhelmingly positive in this area in our relationships with the schools and the teens we work with during the day maintain their grades (as long as they do their part).
Could it Be Parent Anxiety Preventing Services?
This is an important variable for me to address in our goal of helping teens live awesome lives free from emotional or behavioral burdens. This is not a criticism of parenting. It's a natural response as a parent who wants their kids to succeed in academics.
We as parents ourselves get the anxiety around pulling from the Katy ISD and surround ISD schools. And we all want our kids to be wildly successful in school and thinking about them missing once a week can naturally cause anxiety.
There are times where parents struggle with this dilemma and choose not start therapy for their teen due to a day-time appointment. At times, it can be a result of the parent's anxiety as our experience has been the teens do not fall behind in their academics.
During day-time appointments, the teen counselor often focuses on academics and plans the teen has to maintain grades specifically because they are being brought to therapy during school hours.
We make it a point to support your teen in maintaining their grades if not improving them.
Strategic Scheduling Around Core Classes
Many parents that do have their teens see a therapist, temporarily, during school hours, schedule the appointment during a non-core class like P.E., Advisory, Art, or other electives.
We often see the teens who see a therapist during school hours take advantage of that time as they know the stakes are higher with being pulled from school
Day Time Appointments Can Be Temporary
It's important to know that if you do schedule a daytime appointment, we prioritize our after school appointments for teenagers. If you prefer an after school appointment, let your therapist know that you would like to be in line for one of those appointments as they become available.
On average, we see an after school appointment become available every 1.5-2 months after starting. This equates to 6-8 appointments.
Message from Jason Drake, LCSW-S, BCN: Owner & Lead Clinician at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Parents, I hope this message is received in the spirit intended. That of heart felt desire to remove an obstacle that could prevent your teen from getting the therapy they need. Sometimes context and a different perspective can help.
What gets us up in the morning and excited for our day is knowing that we have the opportunity to help teens, young adults, and families overcome obstacles to happiness. If we can help remove an obstacle and help more teens, that's what it's all about at the end of the day. There is no greater feeling than helping a teen and their family leave therapy happy, healthy, motivated, and with more hope and joy in their lives.
Conversely, when we have openings during the day and parents are passing those by, we wish we could help convince you it's worth the short time pull from school as we've seen many teens overcome their challenges -- and it's worth it.
And this is my effort to help convince you to not pass up those daytime appointments if that's what's available at the time. Parenting teens isn't an easy job and we can help.
The sooner your teen starts therapy, with a therapist who specializes in working with teens, the sooner they can overcome their obstacles. Once the obstacles are no longer holding them back, their ability to achieve and achieve happily is opened up.
Jason Drake, LCSW-S, BCN, Certified Brain Health Professional, & EMDR Trained
Owner & Lead Clinician
Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Katy Teen & Family Counseling:
Begin Teen Therapy Today
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, our teen therapists specialize in working with teens. We are ready to help.
There are answers, there is hope, and the struggles don't need to continue. Start today.
Katy Teen & Family Counseling is conveniently located just off of I-10 and 99. It is very easy to get to for those who live in Katy. And, for those in Houston and the surrounding area, it's only minutes away.
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling today
Remove the obstacles in your path to starting therapy and contact us today
Teen Therapy, Young Adult, Family, & Other Services: Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we also offer an array of therapy approaches to help your teen, young adult, and family restore hope, happiness, and connected family relationships.
Below are some of the teen therapy, young adult counseling, and family counseling approaches and services we provide:
Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Teen Therapy for Self-harm
Teen Therapy for Self-esteem and Self-worth
Teen Anger Management Treatment