Learning About Counselling for Your Teen
What is counselling for teens?
If your teen is in counselling, it means they're getting mental health treatment from a trained counsellor. Teens go to counselling for help with issues in life. These may be things like stress, anxiety, or grief. Teens also go for help with certain health conditions. For example, they may go for depression, an eating disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Or they may go because they want to stop vaping or using drugs.
Teens see their counsellor on a regular basis. They may meet weekly, every few weeks, or monthly. How long they're in counselling is different for each teen. But it may be for several months or longer.
There are different types of counselling. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one type. CBT focuses on changing certain thoughts and behaviours. Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is another type. DBT teaches healthy ways to manage feelings.
How can you support your teen?
Here are some ways you can support your teen while they are in counselling.
- Try not to ask your teen questions about what they say in counselling.
Tell your teen that you understand that counselling is a private place for them to talk. But it's okay to check in with your teen sometimes to see how counselling is going.
- Communicate with your teen's counsellor, as needed.
If you're worried about your teen's behaviours or emotions, let the counsellor know.
- Expect the counsellor to protect your teen's privacy.
But if your teen is younger than 18 and talks about hurting themself or someone else, or about being hurt by others, the counsellor must tell you.
- Take part in your teen's counselling, if asked.
It's common for family members to join a few counselling sessions. You can gain tools to help you better support your teen at home.
- Be patient.
It may take time for your teen to build trust with their counsellor. Changing thought patterns and habits also takes time.
- Be positive.
Being hopeful and supportive may help your teen get more out of counselling.
- Find a counsellor for yourself.
You can ask your doctor for a referral.
- Ask your teen's counsellor about parenting classes.
You can learn skills that may help you and your teen. For example, you could learn how to manage your emotions around your teen.
- Watch your teen for signs that they are thinking about hurting themself.
If your teen talks about feeling hopeless, being a burden to others, or having thoughts of suicide, tell their counsellor right away. The counsellor may help your teen build a safety plan. It may include healthy ways to cope, safe places to go, and a list of people who can help.
Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
If your teen talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away.
- Call Talk Suicide Canada: 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645 (4 p.m. to midnight ET).
- Kids or teens can call Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to686868.
- Go to the Talk Suicide Canada website at https://talksuicide.ca or the Kids Help Phone website at https://kidshelpphone.ca for more information.
Consider saving these numbers in your phone.
Current as of: February 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Andrew Littlefield PhD - Psychology, Behavioral Health & Lesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine & Thomas Emmett Francoeur MD MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics