An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
If you are a parent who has noticed excessive irritability, social isolation, depression or anxiety in your child, trust your instincts and get help for your child. Nothing is more painful than watching your child struggle and not knowing how to make it better. The good news is that even very unbalanced teenagers can quickly stabilize and improve with a solid support system.
I have been working with troubled teens for many years and usually develop rapport with them quickly. This enables me to pin down the source of the problem fairly quickly and work on a solution with your teen. On some occasions, I recommend family sessions and/or parent consultations to improve communication. My approach teaches adolescents to communicate better and correct troubled behaviors, (Drug use, constant defiance, school trouble, etc.). Your teen will learn to stop acting out and instead communicate her needs clearly. My parent consultations are designed to complement this by teaching parents how to respond more effectively.
To set up an appointment email me at ngeipert[at]lafamilytherapy.com or call me at 310-601-6071
How do I know if my teen needs therapy?
The teen years can be a developmental crisis. Try to gauge whether your teen’s moods and behaviors interfere with his daily functioning and feel beyond something you can understand or manage. A telltale sign of trouble is when your teen simply does not want to talk to you anymore and/or does not want to listen to anything you have to say. Yes, teens are supposed to reject their parents to some degree to form their own identities, but there is a limit to how much of this is healthy. When pressed, most teens would probably begrudgingly admit that they still need their parents’ support, guidance and reassurance. That is true whether your teen admits to this or not! But sometimes, the support of parents simply isn’t enough. Below are a few common symptoms that indicate the need for professional help:
- Your teen appears sad, tired, restless or irritable most of the time. One of the confusing things about teen depression is it often appears as crankiness and hostility. I don’t mean the occasional outburst but more a persistent pattern of irritability.
- Your teen has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. The general recommendation for teenagers is to get between 8-10 hours of sleep per night. If your child sleeps much more or less than that it could be a sign of problems.
- Any dramatic changes when it comes to eating, weight gain or weight loss.
- Social isolation. Your teen has trouble making or keeping friends. Your child holes up in his room all day to play video games or watch TV and does not seem to have any close friends he socializes with outside of school.
- Dropping grades. Your teen used to be a solid A or B student and now can barely keep a C average. Resist the urge to chalk this change up to laziness or bad teachers. Depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, sleeping problems, eating disorders or drug use all can have a powerful negative impact on a person’s ability to concentrate and learn.
What should I do if my teen refuses to go to therapy?
This is a frequent problem for parents and I usually have two (not mutually exclusive!) suggestions. First, you could begin working with me alone. This could help you to help your teen. Second, acknowledge to him that talking to a stranger about personal issues does seem scary and counter-intuitive. Suggest that he meet with me once without any obligation and emphasize that you would not force him to continue.
What can I do to support my teen’s therapy at home?
This is a great question which shows that you probably are already supporting your teen. You certainly have the best possible attitude! As treatment progresses, your teen will probably begin telling you more about what she needs and the best thing is to listen and see if you can give her what she asks for.