Being a teen is difficult, and so is being a parent.
Being a teenager can be difficult even under ideal circumstances. From changing relationships with friends and family, to dating, sexual development, school and college preparation, teens can feel pulled in so many directions at once that insecurities and doubts overwhelm them. They say children don’t come with an instruction manual but you often find yourself wishing for one.
Do you and your teen frequently struggle for power? Do you find yourself goaded into arguments with your teen and wonder how you get there? Do they struggle with peer relationships? Perhaps he or she worries about their grades or doesn’t worry enough? Do you see acting out behaviors like arguing with authority figures, fights, sexual or other types of risky behaviors? Do you wonder if your child suffers from either anxiety or depression?
Teen acting out
Many times when parents become aware of their teens acting out behaviors they feel shocked and hurt. They are confused about how someone so loved could act out in such dangerous, aggressive, or destructive ways. Competent, caring, and loving parents may attempt to reach out and communicate with their teen only to find their attempts ignored or rudely rebuffed. Their teen may become even more distant, sullen, or angry which in turn can upset and hurt even the most patient of parents.
Many teens feel like no one, including mom or dad listens to or understands them. Teens live in an emotionally intense inner-world and yet many times haven’t developed the skills to communicate those feelings. When your teens act out you may feel it’s necessary to remove privileges like staying out late or visiting with friends, and increase focus on things like homework or chores around the house. Your teen may see you as holding him or her back from doing what they want to do, making them harder to reach. Many parents feel frustrated and caught between their responsibilities as parents and their desires to connect meaningfully with their child.
How counseling can help your teen
More than anything else teens want to feel like they’re valued. Your teen will learn that what they say in therapy will be kept in confidence (with the exception of any discussion of self-harm or harm-to-others) and that it will not be judged. Providing this touchstone of a non-judgmental, caring adult who listens can be a source of stabilization in and of itself. In therapy your teen can learn coping techniques that are healthy alternatives to acting out in dangerous or destructive ways.
I encourage parents to think about teen counseling as a family issue. Many times parents feel stuck when despite everything they’ve tried their teen won’t listen to them or change their behaviors. This in turn can lead to fights and power struggles and simply intensify the problem. If told “just do it because I said so” enough, most teens will eventually choose to test those boundaries. If instead the parent learns non-judgmental listening techniques and transitions to parenting through influence instead of decree, most kids acting out behavior will calm down. This is the goal of therapy. Not only to reduce your teens acting out behaviors and lower risks to their lives and future, but to reconnect you with your teen so that a therapist isn’t needed.
Concerns about therapy for your teen
Of course many teens resist therapy or announce that they do not want to go. Usually this is overcome in the first session through simple listening and rapport building. When teens feel that their views are respected and listened to, and that they are safe the walls to therapy usually recede. Most teens open up readily and begin to share in the first session.
Perhaps you feel that things are so bad nothing can help. Perhaps your relationship with your teen is so acrimonious that discussions devolve into anger after only a few words. Therapy can take time in this type of situation. With commitment to therapy most teens and their parents can find ways to rebuild their relationships into something that is rewarding and fulfilling for both.
If The Above Items Describe Your Situation, Neil Is Here To Help
Neil T. Hetzel, MS, LAC enjoys working with teens. He uses an evidence-based and research-supported technique called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help people identify thoughts that cause disruption in the teen/parent relationship, as well as behavioral techniques to help teens modify their risky behaviors. Once thoughts are identified, Neil helps his clients modify or eliminate them and conflict, argument, and risky behaviors are reduced. Through behavioral techniques Neil helps his clients developing healthy coping skills that allow them to face life’s challenges without suffering debilitating stress and anxiety.
Neil T. Hetzel is an LGBT friendly, Licensed Associate Counselor and a Nationally Certified Counselor. Neil is also a member of the American Counseling Association. His office is located in Chandler, and is a short drive from Gilbert, Mesa, and Tempe. He is able to offer both daytime and evening hours. Contact Neil for your free, 20 minute phone consultation to ask any questions about anxiety treatment or his practice: 623-850-8103. You can also contact Neil via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.