The culture that today’s adolescents are growing up in is vastly different than the culture their parents grew up in. There are some experiences that are common to the development of adolescents at all times, but with the wide access to technology, and the pressures to be overscheduled, it’s a different story for today’s adolescents. Most of the adults in an adolescent’s life have overscheduled themselves, which leaves them little time for their adolescent child.
Often adolescents get the message that they need to figure out things on their own and be independent. This is a task during adolescence, but they need guidance as they are discovering their independence. Since so many adults in their life are absent, this generation of teenagers more than ever identifies with their friend group. In Chap Clark’s book, Hurt, which is about working with adolescents he states that the friend group is the most important relationship to teenagers and they often see their friend group as their family as that is where they find support, love and acceptance.
Counseling for an adolescent provides them with an opportunity to reflect on their choices, to be heard and to work on a plan for their lives. Adolescents are trying to figure out their identity and counseling can be a great place to explore this topic. The counselor uses sessions to provide an environment where the adolescent client can explore questions about their future and how they can become the person they want to be.
One of the major components of counseling with teens is trust. Within the first few sessions, trust needs to be established between the counselor and adolescent in order for the counseling sessions to be productive. Often teenagers do not want to talk to their parents about what is going on in their life. Parents take a helpful step for their relationship with their child when they seek out counseling for their teenage child. The counselor-client relationship models for the adolescent a healthy and safe relationship with an adult.
In addition to trust, it’s important that the adolescent has the desire to be in counseling. If the adolescent client is not a willing participant, sessions will not be productive. It’s the rare teenager who wants to be in or requests to be in counseling so teens are often referred to counseling by their parents. In the first session, the counselor is gaining the teen’s trust. The counselor is finding a motivating factor for the teen that will allow them to be able to work together. The counselor is normalizing the experience of counseling for the teen by talking about how everyone has struggles. Sometimes it helps to have an outside perspective as we figure out how to deal with them.
There are a variety of issues that can be discussed in sessions with teens including self-harm, body image, emotion regulation, social struggles, grief and loss, and divorce. If you are the parent of an adolescent and you are unsure about whether or not your teenager should receive counseling, call a counselor to discuss the situation. At Seattle Christian counseling, we offer a risk-free first session which is the perfect opportunity for your teen to try out counseling and decide if the counselor is a good fit for them.