If you’re a parent of a teenager, you will understand that they experience many emotional ups and downs. From the pressures of school and exams, peer groups, social media and the everyday challenges of maturing to adulthood, it is understandable that they occasionally become overwhelmed.

Most of the time, all they really need is the support of parents and friends, but sometimes problems arise which are more difficult for them to deal with and process. It’s at times like these that talking therapies can be a great support.

Teens often internalise problems rather than discussing them openly, so it can be difficult to know if they’re in trouble. However, if you notice any of the following signs you may want to consider getting further advice or support:

Change of behaviour: Have they started to act differently, or spending more time alone in their room? Are they withdrawing from friends and the things they normally like to do?

Sleep patterns: Often, when we’re feeling upset, physical things like sleep patterns are the first to be affected. If your teenager is finding it harder to sleep, or waking at several points throughout the night, it may be a sign that something is causing them anxiety.

Divorce and/or separation: If your family dynamics have recently changed teenagers can often find significant life changes and separation or divorce trigger a whole range of emotions: sadness, anger, fear, regret, or even guilt.

Moving House/School: Teenagers are often unaware of how much they rely on stability and routine. Therefore anything which detracts from that sense of normality can tip their sense of balance and may result in anxious feelings and the feeling of loss (school friends or old home).

School: Have you noticed a significant drop in their academic grades and ability? This may reflect they are feeling upset and distracted by something else.

Bereavement: Has a member of the family died recently or even within the past few years (this can include animals too)? If your teenager experienced a close bond with that person then counselling may support them, enabling them to process their feelings.

Bullying: Bullying can be particularly damaging as it is not always physical, as is the case with Cyber Bullying. Counselling can help to build resilience and rebuild their self-esteem and self-worth.

Eating patterns: Have their habits changed? Are they eating more or less than they normally do? Are they withdrawing from social eating (family mealtimes, lunch with friends)? Eating patterns and appetite often change around emotions.

Seeking counselling for your teenager does not mean you are failing as a parent, teenagers often struggle to talk to their parents because they’re worried they’ll get in trouble. Some teenagers find that talking to an independent person, in a confidential setting, without judgement can really help.

If you think your teenager would benefit from counselling, suggest it to them, talking is the best first step. Simply let them know you’re concerned about them and you want to help. They must also want to come to counselling, it will not work if your teenager doesn’t want to attend.


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