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FAQ - Adolescents

What issues do adolescent's seek help with?

Can I insist my child seek therapy?

Should teens attend therapy on their own?

Are adolescent's sessions confidential?


What issues do adolescent's seek help with?

Adolescents see a psychologist for the same reason that adults do - they are struggling with managing their thoughts, feelings or behaviours.  In addition adolescents are going through a rapid period of change, suddenly dealing with a much more complex world, and having more challenging or novel experiences which may temporarily overload their capacity to cope.  At this time some additional help to normalise the experiences and help to develop coping strategies may be helpful.


Can I insist my child seek therapy?

The adolescent period can be a very anxious one for parents as they see their child becoming more independent and having experiences they may not think them ready for.  If your believe your child is struggling you may be very keen for them to get help.  Unfortunately, trying to force someone to attend therapy, and once there open up about awkward topics, may not be effective.  Instead the young person may not agree there is anything wrong, or even if they do, be resentful of being coerced when they are trying to build their autonomy and independence. 


Generally, therapy is much more effective when attendance is voluntary.  Although parents can encourage their teen to attend, after the first session the young person should have the choice about whether to continue, what the focus will be, and whether the therapist is right for them at this time. 


Should teens attend therapy alone?

The adolescent years cover a broad range of ages, therefore it is an individual consideration if parents should attend with the young person or they attend alone.  Younger adolescents may prefer a parent to be present most of the time, while older adolescents may prefer to attend independently.

In most cases the parent will be included in the first session so that everyone is on the same page regarding how therapy works and can contribute their perspectives on the presenting issues.  After that the young person is given the choice about whether their parent(s) are present in subsequent sessions.  It is often useful for parent(s) to attend some sessions in order to help them understand their child’s issues and what they can and can't do to help their child.  It is also helpful for the young person to have other sessions on their own so they can explore the issues without concern for parental approval.


Are adolescent's sessions confidential?

Adolescent sessions are confidential in the same way that adult sessions are.  There are legal exceptions concerning feedback to referring doctors, mandatory reporting of risk of harm, and response to subpoenas if there is a court case, but information about the content of adolescent therapy can only be disclosed to parents with the adolescent's permission unless there is a risk of harm.

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