In today’s day and age, teenagers are faced with many challenges related to school, friends, family, or social media. It is no wonder that teens are experiencing higher rates of depression and anxiety! Parents, caregivers, teachers, and friends of young people might find themselves asking, “How can I help?” A great way to help is simply being there for them. When a teenager believes they have a good support system, it creates a sense of safety against feeling like they are alone, or not good enough.
A great place to start is noticing how your teen feels at home. Reevaluate how you interact with your teen at home. Do you find yourself always asking them questions like if they have done their homework, and chores, or whom they are hanging out with? Creating a loving and trusting relationship is key. In therapy, our main motive when working with teens is showing empathy and validating their feelings. Some ways we do that is by meeting them where they are and spending time with them by playing games or creating art which could easily be done at home.
Parents/caregivers should also encourage kids to form positive friendships by participating in school and extracurricular activities, such as sports, theater, or clubs. Creating that circle of people they trust and feel comfortable around is essential in protecting teens from depression.
When working with teenagers, I believe it is very important that the therapist build trust with them and create a safe and empathetic environment. It is also important to understand that traditional talk therapy might not always be their preferred method of receiving help. Because of this, I like to incorporate games, art, meditation, and music into therapy sessions.
If you find your teen struggling and you are at a loss of how to help them, I would love to help empower you and your teen in navigating through the ups and downs of life.
-Mady Sniecinski, MA LLPC
Rachael Kool, professional counselor and normal, everyday adult screw up.