Counseling / Virtual Counseling
Telecounseling for Teens in Denver
Life as a teenager is tough. As they are beginning to develop their own values and figure out their identities, teenagers face a tremendous deal of stress during the final years of childhood. Many are already making decisions that will impact their future for years to come, which naturally comes with a great deal of stress that can trigger anxiety and depression. Adolescence is also the onset period for many mental illnesses.
Adolescent counseling can provide support and guidance to teens even amidst social distancing and the coronavirus.
Common Reasons Teens Attend Counseling
Many adolescents feel like they’re being “forced” to go to therapy by their parents who “think something is wrong with me.” But therapy is not a place designed to fix anyone, because no one is broken. People all have their own unique struggles, but we believe that our experiences are just that. They do not define us no matter how much they may impact us.
Teens can benefit from counseling if they are struggling to stay motivated in school, experiencing conflict at home or going through a difficult time. Trauma, anxiety and depression are common mental health conditions that teenagers can overcome with the help of a licensed professional.
The earlier a teenager gets help for whatever they’re going through, the greater the chance of a long-lasting recovery. Far too many people stay trapped in the shadows of stigma, longing for help but too afraid to get it. Whether you are a concerned parent or a teenager yourself, there is no shame in getting help. Counseling, either in person or online, can provide the tools and support necessary to heal and grow.
Signs Your Teenager Needs Counseling
Every parent worries about their child, but how do you know when your problems warrant professional help? Generally, when an issue is beyond your scope of understanding or has begun to cause serious disruptions to your family life or teen’s ability to function, it’s a good idea to speak with a counselor.
Certain behaviors pose a significant threat to your teen’s well-being, and they may indicate underlying mental health issues. For example:
- Substance abuse
- Angry outbursts
- Criminal activity
- Avoiding friends and family/sudden change in friends
- Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
- Isolated, withdrawn attitude
- Dramatic changes in personality and behavior
- Talking or thinking often about death/self-harm
The later teenage years also mark the onset of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Having an honest discussion with your teenager about any concerns you have can help them feel more comfortable opening up. Sometimes, teens just need to be reminded that people do care about them and want to listen.
Ways to Help a Struggling Teenager
You might often feel like your teenager is from an entirely different universe when they speak. Parents often wonder, “Was I like that to my parents?” when they begin to struggle to have even basic conversations with their adolescents. Teenagers are not speaking in code or generally going out of their way to be distant; they might be embarrassed or ashamed of what they’re feeling or even too afraid to confront it through a conversation.
The best thing you can do as a parent is to be fully present without being overly persistent. The harder you push, the farther your teen will pull away. Offer to do activities with them that they enjoy. Even something as simple as eating dinner together or watching a movie can have an impact on a teen’s sense of support and security.
Don’t invade their privacy without any necessary reason to do so, but keep an eye on any concerning behaviors. You may want to check their social media accounts or internet history if you worry they might be engaging with harmful content or talking to strangers.
Keep Communication Focused on the Positive
Most importantly, let your child know that you love them and want to hear what they have to say. Teenagers often worry their parents will judge them, argue with them or even hate them for voicing their true feelings. Although you may not always like what you hear, you must respond to your teenager’s emotions with empathy and understanding. Use affirming statements during conversation such as, “That sounds really hard,” and “Thank you for sharing this with me.”
If you bring up the subject of therapy, let them know that getting professional help is a good thing, not a sign of failure or weakness. Ultimately, therapy is for your teenager to receive help and provide a safe space to disclose whatever they’re going through without fear of judgment. Therapy is a resource, not a punishment. It should never be leveraged as something needed to “fix” them or correct their behavior.
Telecounseling for Teens
We offer online therapy for teens with licensed counselors in the state of Colorado. Talking to a therapist online can be a good stepping stone for many teens, and it’s the best way to get support even during the coronavirus pandemic. To learn more about our services or to request an appointment, please click here.
How to Talk to Your Children About the Coronavirus
Talking to children about certain subjects is always a challenge, but for most cases, we have time to plan and prepare. The new coronavirus has thrown everything for a loop, and many parents are left grappling with all the sudden changes. During this hectic and uncertain period, it can be easy to get so caught up in our own anxieties that we forget to include our children.
Talking to your children about the coronavirus can help ease their anxiety, reduce stress and learn how to protect their own health. We’ve put together a few suggestions on how you can teach your children about COVID-19.
Don’t Hide Reality
Although you should disclose details that are appropriate for your child’s age level, even toddlers can understand there has been a disruption to the norm, and it’s not wrong to talk to them about it. In fact, introducing children to the topic early can help them start to build resilience. This is an opportunity for your child to understand there are things in life beyond their control, but they can adapt with support rather than cope with anxiety.
Avoiding a scary subject like the virus can actually heighten children’s concerns. After all, if their parents aren’t talking about it, it must be really bad, right? They are bound to see headlines on the TV or phone, overhear adults talking about COVID-19 and draw their own conclusions.
Help dispel worry by talking openly about the virus. You can find the best information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. There is also a free video by education site BrainPop that you can watch together and discuss.
Stay on Their Level
Children should be spoken to in a manner that is easy for them to understand. Keeping language developmentally appropriate can help prevent misunderstandings and greater confusion. A small child between the ages of 2 and 4 will likely be fine with a straightforward, two-sentence explanation such as, “A lot of people outside are getting sick right now, so we’re going to stay inside to keep ourselves healthy while the doctors do their jobs.”
Older children will likely prompt for greater detail; those who use the internet have likely come across articles and done some of their own reading already. Answer their questions as they come, but keep a positive mindset. Focus more on what you and your family can do, like self-isolating and washing your hands regularly. Anxiety stems from uncertainty and feelings of powerlessness; shifting your child’s attention to their ability to protect themselves and others will help alleviate discomfort.
Let your child know that the coronavirus seems to affect children in less severe ways, and that if they practice good hygiene, they will most likely not catch it. Remind children that they have the ability to protect themselves and their family; talk about the right way to wash your hands, which is 20 seconds. A helpful way to remember is to sing the “Happy Birthday” song while they lather with soap and water.
Stick to a Routine
It can be helpful for both you and your children to follow your usual schedule as closely as possible; it should be business as usual when it comes to waking up, bedtime and getting dressed. Maintaining this semblance of normalcy will bring comfort and security to children as they adapt to the many changes going on around them.
Enjoy Family Time
While sticking with a routine, let you kids know that this is also a great opportunity to have some extra family time and to do some things that you typically wouldn’t be of a mind to do or wouldn’t feel like you had the time for. Create an extra movie/pizza night, game night, book night, or outdoor games challenge. Do some Go Noodle dances together. Sing karaoke! Have a Dude Perfect shot or bottle-flipping challenge. One family we know of created a tik tok dance together. There are so many ways to take advantage of this time.
A good combination of all the above will make this an easier time for your children, you as parents, and for all of you as a family.
At Caring Heart Counseling, we want to be here for you and your family during this challenging time. We offer virtual counseling with our therapists that you can access right from the comfort of your own home. To learn more, contact us today.