Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy How to Tell if Your Teenager Needs Counselling: Signs to Look Out For

How to Tell if Your Teenager Needs Counselling: Signs to Look Out For

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The teenage years can be a challenging time for both teenagers and their parents. Adolescents often experience various changes in their lives, including physical, emotional, and social changes, which can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate. As a result, some teenagers may require counselling to help them cope with these changes and the challenges they encounter. It can be difficult to spot the signs that your teenager needs counselling.

Parents may wonder how to determine if their teenager needs counselling. It is essential to recognise the signs that your teenager may be struggling with mental health issues or other problems. Some signs include changes in behaviour, such as mood swings, increased irritability, and withdrawal from family and friends. Poor academic performance, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and substance abuse are also warning signs that your teenager may need counselling.

If you notice any of these signs or have concerns about your teenager’s well-being, it is crucial to seek professional help. Counselling can provide teenagers with the necessary tools and support to manage their emotions, improve their communication skills, and develop healthy coping strategies. Understanding the signs that your teenager needs counselling can help you take the necessary steps to ensure their mental and emotional well-being.

Recognising the need for counselling

As a parent, it can be difficult to determine whether your teenager needs counselling. However, recognising the warning signs and changes in behaviour can help you identify when it’s time to seek professional help.

Warning signs of mental health issues

Mental health issues can manifest in many ways, and it’s important to be aware of the warning signs. Some common warning signs include:

  • Significant changes in mood or behaviour
  • Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Social isolation and withdrawal from friends
  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Extreme mood swings

If your teenager is experiencing any of these warning signs, it may be time to consider counselling.

Behavioural and emotional changes

Behavioural and emotional changes can be an indication that your teenager is struggling and needs help. Some common changes to look out for include:

  • Increased irritability and anger
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Self-harm or thoughts of suicide
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Changes in eating habits or significant weight loss/gain
  • Difficulty coping with stress or trauma

If your teenager is exhibiting any of these changes, it’s important to seek professional help.

School performance and peer interactions

School performance and peer interactions can also be indications that your teenager needs counselling. Some signs to look out for include:

  • A sudden drop in grades or academic performance
  • Increased absences from school
  • Difficulty making and maintaining friendships
  • Increased conflicts with peers or authority figures

If your teenager is experiencing any of these issues, counselling may be a helpful resource to address these challenges.

In conclusion, recognising the need for counselling can be challenging, but being aware of the warning signs and changes in behaviour can help you identify when it’s time to seek professional help. If you notice any of these warning signs or changes in your teenager, it’s important to seek the help of a mental health professional.

Approaching the topic with your teen

As a parent, it can be difficult to approach the topic of counselling with your teenager. However, it is important to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and can lead to positive changes in your teen’s life. Here are some tips for approaching the topic with your teen:

Starting the conversation

It is important to approach the conversation with your teen in a non-judgmental and supportive way. You can start by expressing your concern for their well-being and asking if they have been feeling overwhelmed or struggling with anything in particular. Let your teen know that you are there to listen and support them.

Building trust and understanding

Building trust and understanding is crucial when it comes to discussing sensitive topics like counselling. It is important to create a safe and supportive environment where your teen feels comfortable opening up to you. Avoid getting defensive or dismissive if your teen shares something that may be difficult to hear. Instead, try to listen with empathy and validate their feelings.

Respecting privacy and autonomy

It is important to respect your teen’s privacy and autonomy when it comes to counselling. Let your teen know that counselling is a confidential space where they can talk openly without fear of judgement or consequences. Assure them that you will not share any information without their permission, unless there is a risk of harm to themselves or others. It is also important to respect your teen’s autonomy by involving them in the decision-making process and allowing them to choose their own therapist if possible.

Overall, talking to your teen about counselling can be a difficult but important conversation to have. By approaching the topic with empathy, understanding, and respect, you can help your teen build coping skills and strengthen your relationship as a family. If you feel that your family could benefit from family therapy, consider seeking the advice of a professional counsellor.

Selecting the right counselling serviceTypes of counselling and therapy

When it comes to selecting the right counselling service for your teenager, it’s important to understand the different types of counselling and therapy that are available. Some common types of therapy include individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. Individual therapy involves one-on-one sessions with a therapist, while group therapy involves sessions with a group of people who are all working through similar issues. Family therapy involves sessions with the entire family, and can be particularly helpful when dealing with issues that affect the entire family unit.

There are also different types of therapy that are used to address specific issues. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is often used to help teenagers who are struggling with anxiety or depression, while dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) can be helpful for those who struggle with emotional regulation.

Finding a qualified therapist

Finding a qualified therapist is essential when seeking professional help for your teenager. It’s important to look for a therapist who has specialised training in working with teenagers and who has experience working with the specific issues your teenager is facing.

One way to find a qualified therapist is to ask for recommendations from your teenager’s doctor or school counsellor. You can also search for therapists online and check their credentials and reviews. It’s important to make sure that the therapist you choose is licenced and has a good reputation in the field.

Considerations for insurance and costs

When selecting a counselling service for your teenager, it’s important to consider insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs. Some insurance plans may cover a portion of the cost of therapy, while others may not cover it at all. It’s important to check with your insurance provider to understand what is covered and what is not.

If insurance coverage is not an option, it’s important to consider the out-of-pocket costs associated with therapy. Some therapists may offer sliding scale fees based on income, while others may offer payment plans. It’s important to discuss these options with the therapist before beginning treatment to ensure that you can afford the services.

Overall, selecting the right counselling service for your teenager can be a challenging process, but it’s important to take the time to find a qualified therapist who can provide the support and guidance your teenager needs. By understanding the different types of counselling and therapy available, finding a qualified therapist, and considering insurance and costs, you can help ensure that your teenager receives the best possible care.

Supporting your teen through the counselling process

When your teenager begins counselling, it’s important to provide them with the support they need to make the most out of their therapy sessions. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Encourage open communication. Encourage your teen to be open and honest with their therapist. Let them know that it’s okay to share their thoughts and feelings, even if they are difficult to talk about. Remind them that their therapist is there to help and that everything they say is confidential.
  • Attend family therapy sessions. If your teen’s therapist suggests family therapy, consider attending the sessions. Family therapy can help improve communication and strengthen relationships between family members. It can also provide a safe space for everyone to share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Educate yourself. Educate yourself about your teen’s mental health condition, if applicable. Learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatments. This can help you better understand what your teen is going through and how you can support them.
  • Be supportive. Be supportive of your teen’s therapy journey. Let them know that you are proud of them for taking this step towards better mental health. Offer to drive them to their appointments and check in with them after their sessions.
  • Consider online counselling. If your teen is hesitant about in-person therapy, consider online counselling. Many mental health professionals offer virtual sessions, which can be more convenient and comfortable for some teens.


Remember, counselling can be a valuable tool for improving your teen’s mental health and overall well-being. By providing them with the support they need, you can help them make the most out of their therapy sessions.

Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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