Could therapy be right for you or your teen?

Many parents wonder if therapy is only for people with certain mental health diagnoses. While therapy has many demonstrated benefits for resolving and supporting mental health conditions, the benefits of therapy extend beyond coping with difficult symptoms and situations. 

Teens (and their parents too) can improve their wellbeing and functioning through therapy, whether they have a mental health diagnosis or not. Read on to discover some of the ways therapy could improve your teen’s life - and maybe yours too!

Who can benefit from therapy?

The purpose of therapy is to improve your mental health, and improved mental health can change your life in many positive (and sometimes surprising) ways. Therapists study and practice to become experts in assisting people with their mental health by:

  • Listening and providing support and understanding
  • Finding solutions to repetitive problems in your life
  • Improving your relationships with other people
  • Developing coping skills to relieve distressing symptoms 
  • Improving your confidence and self-esteem
  • Increasing your personal safety by addressing risky behavior and relationships

While these approaches have obvious benefits for the patient, research has demonstrated that improving your mental health connects to other elements of health and wellbeing. 

For many people, therapy helps to increase your productivity at school and work. It allows you to focus more on what you need to get done, and even enjoy work more, when you’re not distracted by distressing symptoms and problems. 

Therapy can help improve your physical health. Many people experience relief from chronic health conditions when they start getting consistent mental health treatment. Lower stress overall places less strain on your body, which makes your body better able to heal physically. When your mental health is improved, you get sick less often and take better care of yourself. Therapy can help you feel right in body and mind.

So to answer the question of “who can benefit from therapy” - the answer is anyone who wants to improve their health! If you’re feeling skeptical of whether therapy would really benefit your teen, ask yourself if your teen would benefit from lower stress in any area, whether that’s school, health, or relationships. Therapy can help improve all of these realms and more.

Benefits of therapy for teens and young adults

Therapy can support teens and their parents in many ways, including in some areas that you might not expect at first: 

  • Direct help and intervention for mental health conditions

Due to the intense changes that all adolescents experience, these years can be tumultuous for teens and young adults (and their families).  This can also be when mental health diagnoses first emerge, like teen anxiety or teen depression. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 high school students experienced a mental health condition in the past 3 years, and nearly half feel persistently sad or hopeless. Therapy can provide direct help and intervention for mental health conditions, or any teen hoping to improve their emotional wellbeing.  

  • Support in navigating intense emotions

It’s normal for teens to experience emotions (like anger) more intensely, and for these emotions to change rapidly day to day as they develop their identities and explore new relationships. This is also why therapy can be so needed by teens and young adults in particular. It’s challenging for parents or peers to provide the full spectrum of support that an adolescent might need. It’s ok to seek help from a therapist expert during the teen years.

  • Improved academic functioning

Because therapy can help a teen better cope with their stress and general wellbeing, therapy can improve a teen’s academic function. A therapist can help with strategies for managing school work, staying focused, setting goals and expectations, and structuring time. Whether your teen invests too much time and stress on school, or too little, a therapist can help get to the bottom of what’s driving their stress or lack of motivation, and find coping skills for this.

  • Confidence and identity formation

The teen years are a significant time of identity formation. The major work of being a teenager is figuring out “who you are.” Teens may “try on” different identities in the form of hobbies, interests, and friends. It can be hard to know how to support your teen’s growing identity, especially if it feels new or outside of your family culture or comfort. A therapist can help your teen navigate this time and form their identity in a safe and mature way. 

  • Relationship development

Many parents notice their teen’s relationships changing when they enter the adolescent years, whether this is friendships or first romantic connections. A therapist can serve as another adult for your teen to confide in, and help them develop safe and secure boundaries

Benefits of therapy for parents and the parent-child relationship

Exploring the benefits of therapy for your teen might make you wonder - could I benefit from therapy, too? It’s a great idea to explore therapy for yourself or your family when your teen is getting individual therapy for themselves. Parenting a teen is both rewarding and challenging, and having support directly for yourself can only help to improve your own wellbeing, and your family’s, by extension. 

Here are some ways therapy can help you as a parent, and help improve your parent-child relationship:

  1. Modeling: 
    It can feel like we’re supposed to have “figured it all out” by the time we’re parenting a teen, but no adult knows how to cope with every stressful situation life brings. Watching you work to improve your own mental health in therapy can send a big message to your teen - that you’re their partner, their model, and that you are learning too. Most teens are more receptive to therapy if they know their parent is working on themselves, too.
  1. Conflict resolution: 
    Teen years bring conflict into families, due to the intense emotionality and developing relationships described earlier. While this is normal, it can still feel very stressful and overwhelming. An individual therapist for a parent, or a family therapist, can help you heal the pain of conflict and find practical ways to improve communication. This can be one of the most relieving elements of therapy for families.
  1. Lower stress: 
    If you have your own space to share your worries and concerns and find solutions for yourself, you’re going to be much better able to be there for your children and other family members. We’re told frequently when our children are young that we need to create space for self-care, but this is just as essential when our children are teens. A therapist can help work through challenging parenting situations, and help support you as an individual, so you are better able to support your kids. 

Is one kind of therapy better than another?

The most important element of therapy is that you find a therapist you can connect to and trust. Your therapist should be appropriately licensed, and have experience with your therapy goals. They should feel like someone you want to talk to, either because you have things in common or because they have a personality or presence that makes you feel safe. Therapy can certainly be difficult at times, and you may leave therapy at times feeling challenged or like you have a lot to think about. But in general the best therapy comes from a therapist you like and trust.

If you need support with a particular mental health diagnosis or a specific goal, it’s good to look for a therapist who can provide high quality, evidence-based care. Medical or school professionals will sometimes make a recommendation for a specific kind of therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), or family systems. This is usually because there is research to support a particular kind of intervention for the problems you or your teen are facing. When in doubt, look for an expert in what you are dealing with. The most important part of therapy is that the therapist is a good fit for you.

How Joon helps teens and young adults

Joon was developed specifically for teens and young adults, so all of the therapists working on our platform are experts in this age group and all of the unique developmental issues they present. They’re also experts in connecting with parents about teens. Joon’s mission is provide the highest quality therapy to our clients, and we do this in 4 ways:

  1. Evidence based practice
    All of the interventions our therapists provide are backed by adolescent-specific research. This means that experts in youth mental health have developed all of the tools and approaches our therapists use. You can trust that the level of care here is higher quality than general talk therapy without evidence-based intervention.
  1. Personalized care
    Our therapists are good humans who are genuinely passionate about providing therapy to teens. They treat every teen on our platform like the unique individual they are. Care is never manualized, and is always adapted to their needs. Teens don’t bounce around between whatever therapist is available - their relationship with their specific therapist is central to every interaction they have. 
  1. Practical and engaging skills
    Finding relief through talk therapy is hugely beneficial, but we also know that for therapy to have a lasting impact, teens need to learn and practice new skills for meeting the challenges of life. We also know that teens won’t use these skills unless the skill practice is engaging and relevant for them. We develop skills to reinforce their personalized therapy so that they can leave therapy at Joon equipped to cope with future challenges.
  1. Teen experts
    Teens and young adults (and their parents) are special. They require therapists who want to work with them most of all, and who understand their unique neurological and developmental needs. Every therapist at Joon is an expert devoted to this group.

Therapy can be hugely beneficial to teens and their families. If you’re curious about how therapy could benefit your teen, talk to an expert at Joon today.

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May 3, 2023
Katey Nicolai, PhD | VP of Clinical Services

Katey Nicolai, PhD | VP of Clinical Services

Katey Nicolai, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist who received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Seattle Pacific University. Dr. Nicolai provides services to adolescents and adults using evidence-based treatment rooted in cognitive-behavioral and psychodynamic therapies, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy, interpersonal therapy, and family systems. Dr. Nicolai has specialized training in treating trauma and PTSD, personality disorders, self-harm and suicidailty, family problems, emotion dysregulation, and mood and anxiety disorders.

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