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Christian Counseling - Therapy Guidelines for Teenagers Part One

If you find yourself considering seeking therapy for your teenager, here are several guidelines to help you with the process. These are guidelines I share with parents who have some concerns about their child.

First, make sure you look at your child from a global perspective. What this means is that you should not focus solely on one area of their life when deciding whether they might need help. Here are some areas to look at:

1. School Performance

2. Emotional Life

3. Family Life

4. Social Life

5. Spiritual Life

By thinking about their life in these areas, you can have a more well-rounded view of your child. If they are having significant difficulty in one area or moderate difficulty in more than one area, it may be a good idea to seek help for them.

When you take your teenager for counseling, there are usually two situations that might arise. First, it is determined that the child would benefit from counselling, but counseling may not be imperative. If this is the case, I usually encourage parents to bring the child for at least one session. If the child decides they want to continue, then therapy continues. If they decide that they do not want therapy, although they might benefit from it, I usually encourage parents not to force their children to go. There may come a time, in the future, that the teenager decides they want to seek therapy. If they have already gone for therapy once, the process of getting them started becomes easier as they have already met a therapist before.

The second situation is one in which it is determined that the teenager needs therapy. In this case, the problems are severe enough that therapy is not an option but an imperative. In this case, I usually tell parents that they need to bring their child for therapy for at least 6 months, whether the child wants to go or not. The parents need to prepare themselves for the teenager's negative response to going to therapy, but still take them anyway. Although the teenager may be oppositional at first, typically, if they come regularly for therapy, they will begin to open up to the therapist. If the parents are not prepared to do this, then the therapy is usually ended prior to the teenager benefiting from it.

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