There are so many areas of life that therapy can help with. Teens are in a really unique position in life of dealing with some of the biggest life transitions and pivotal moments anyone ever experiences in all categories: physically, socially, mentally, and emotionally. As an anxiety therapist for teens in Charlotte, NC, I’ve seen firsthand the issues that teens deal with.
If you’re a teen, you may be cautious about starting therapy because you aren’t sure how much privacy you will actually have or how it all will go. It’s not always the same as movies and shows portray.
Here are a few quick facts about therapy for teens:
Confidentiality is huge! In every other aspect of your life, you don’t have much privacy. Teachers can call your parents/caretakers and tell them what you did or said in class. Doctor and dental visits often include your parents being in the room and/or relaying all of the information to the adults instead of you. Your guardians may be involved for the first therapy session to get a family history and sign paperwork. However, if you’re in individual therapy, the majority of your sessions will be for you. Parents can occasionally check in with the therapist, but therapists aren’t allowed to tell them most of what you say in sessions.
The only time confidentiality is broken is if there is a safety issue, like if you’re having thoughts of ending your life or someone is hurting you. Any other topics, even things like smoking, friend issues, or skipping school, are not things that a therapist can break confidentiality for. It’s a safe place to talk about who you are, what you are thinking and feeling, and what you are experiencing without worrying about being punished or graded.
Being in therapy doesn’t mean every session needs to be about a major mental health issue. YOU typically get to decide what to talk about! Stressed about school? Have a crush and not know what to do about it? Struggling with how to speak up for yourself? Therapy is your time to talk through whatever is bothering you or is on your mind. There is no judgment and you can get an unbiased point of view on your stressors.
Therapy can seem formal at times, but it doesn’t always have to be! You can bring things into therapy that are important to you. In sessions, you can incorporate art, music, Tiktoks, memes, and gifs into your sessions. Sometimes these outlets can show your feelings or thoughts in ways that are much easier than using words. Therapy can be fun at times!
Your goals may be different than your parents goals for therapy and in individual therapy. Your parents may bring you in because they want you to be more engaged with the family or to focus better or to seem happier. You may decide that you want to work on friendships or self esteem instead. Parent goals are factored in to therapy and sometimes, the therapist will meet with the whole family if there’s an issue that needs to be worked on. But ultimately, you decide what personal goals you want to work towards during your sessions.
Success in therapy isn’t measured by a grade or scale. It’s all about how you feel. As I mentioned above, you won’t get graded in sessions. Your therapist wants you to show up, be honest, work towards your goals, and start feeling like a healthier version of yourself. Only you can really measure what that looks like. For some people, success may be getting dressed each day. For others, it may be setting a boundary with a friend. There’s a ton of ways to measure progress in therapy and that may be different than other areas of life you’re used to.
I’ve found that most teens love going to therapy because it’s rare for them to have a neutral space to really think and talk about what they’re going through. There are so many amazing things about the process. If you would like to start therapy and aren’t sure how, you can reference these previous blog posts for tips: How to Tell Your Parents You Want to Start Therapy
Good luck on your journey to being the best you!!