It is often hard for a teenager to admit that they need help. They might try to solve the problem themselves or turn to other means to hide what they are going through. This might particularly be hard for parents to determine when their teenager needs help or when its just the normal behaviour of a teenager.

So what signs should parents be on the lookout for:

  • Significant change in mood or behaviour
  • Shows signs of excessive worry and stress
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • “Acting-out” behaviour (Many times teens engage in a range of different behaviour to gain attention such as running away, sexually acting-out, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, participating in illegal activity, etc)
  • Academic Achievement (Your teen’s academic marks have dropped significantly)
  • Self-harm
  • Change in friendship groups or activities
  • Inappropriate anger
  • Severe irritation
  • Signs of depression (Loss of interest in things they use to enjoy, sadness, poor apatite, etc)
  • Extremely low self-esteem
  • Makes comments like “I wish I weren’t here” or “Nobody would care if I ran away.”

What to do if you think your teen needs counselling:

Realise that there might be more to your teen’s “misbehaviour”. The first conversation you have with your teen is likely to set the tone for their attitude about therapy. Your teen might feel very embarrassed to seek help and it is therefore of utmost important to avoid causing feelings of shame and guilt. Do not be afraid to talk to your teen about the topic. Talk to them and express your concerns in a loving and calm way. Very often when you ask your teen, “Does this feel like something we need to get some help with”, teens will respond in a positive manner realising that help might be needed. You could also say something like, “I wonder if it would be helpful for you to have someone to talk to besides me”. Suggest to them to talk to someone professional.

It is particularly important to know that counselling is unsuccessful if your teen is forced to see someone when they are not ready or willing. This makes the counselling process difficult because the counsellor or psychologist can only help as far as the teen allows them to.

Counselling can be greatly beneficial for your teen not only if they are facing serious problems, but it can also help them with the little things like managing their stress, managing their time, managing their emotions or their journey of self-discovery.