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  • Writer's picturedrjennifer_tauks

How to Support Your Adolescent in Therapy

Adolescent development represents the time in a youth’s life where they are moving from childhood into young adult life. The stages of adolescent development include Early Adolescence, Middle Adolescence, and Late Adolescence. The ages of this transition begin approximately around 10-years-old and continue through approximately 18-24-years-old. During this formative time, your adolescent will endure changes in physical, behavioral, cognitive, social/emotional, and academic functioning.

This period of development is an optimal time to help adolescents develop healthy social and emotional habits. Therapy can be a protective and supportive avenue for your adolescent to learn ongoing emotional, interpersonal, academic, and physical skills. In my professional practice, I find there is much knowledge and advice on WHEN to refer adolescents to therapy, but not a lot of discussion around HOW to support your adolescent once therapy has started. In my experience, parents have a critical role in shaping their adolescent's therapeutic experience and effectiveness.

Parents are usually the first avenue adolescents have to a therapist. The slippery slope parents face of negotiating confidentiality and treatment engagement can be tricky. Here are some ways that parents can support and help their adolescents engage, participate, and get the most out of the therapeutic experience.

· Support Change- Parental support is critical in setting the tone and acknowledging that changes in feelings and relationships can change. Support open communication with your child and their therapist, focus on positive changes and not what the negative patterns have been. Support therapeutic goals in the home.

· Participate- A trained therapist will be able to keep the confidential boundaries with your child and include you in the needed therapeutic session. Family dynamics are an important role in helping your child understand key areas of how to understand and begin the needed areas of change together with you.

· Acknowledge Autonomy- Give your adolescent a chance to build a therapeutic relationship with their therapist, let them establish goals to work on, and engage them in a conversation about their goals. This will also foster a healthy conversation with you and your adolescence on areas you may be working on or have worked on for personal development.

Parenting adolescents can be difficult. Knowing when to intervene and recommend a therapist to your adolescent is not always easy. Demonstrating your ability that you can make changes along with your adolescent is a great way to see an overall improvement in your relationship. Linking, supporting, and utilizing your teen’s therapist will ultimately produce a rewarding experience for everyone.

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