What Teens Should Expect from Their First Therapy Session

Does your teenager know what to expect from therapy? Do you know how to prepare for their first therapy session? Are there ways you as a parent can make that intimidating first visit less stressful? These are all appropriate questions that make sense before starting the therapeutic process. Therapy and counseling are becoming less stigmatized for teens, as they realize that this vital resource can help them work through trauma and other mental health or co-occurring issues they may be struggling with.

What To Expect From Therapy

Going to a therapist for the first time can be scary because a lot of it is unknown. After all, it’s hard to be more open and talk to a stranger about the most intimate details of your life and your biggest challenges.

When preparing your teenager for their first therapy session, it helps to remove the stigma. Many people think that you must have severe issues to see a therapist, however that is not true. The majority of therapists focus on helping clients work through everyday life challenges. Indeed, psychotherapists serve a very diverse set of clients with a wide range of therapeutic goals.

Be sure to remind your teenager that many people that see a therapist regularly are successful, high-achieving professionals. Overall, the majority are healthy, and all of them are normal for seeking help. They choose to see a therapist to work on specific challenges and achieve desired goals. Often depression and anxiety disorders are the results of the kind of stress that most people experience. To avoid these detrimental effects, working with a therapist helps pinpoint the challenge, then develop tools to manage it effectively.

How To Prepare For The First Counseling Session With Your Teenager

Before going to a therapist or counselor for the first time, it makes sense to put together a list of teen therapy questions to ask about a professional’s background and the various treatment techniques used by a therapist. Such initial questions provide orientation and start the process of building trust.

Here are some basic teen therapy questions to ask:

  1. What are the credentials and experience of the therapist?
  2. Does the therapist have a specialty? What approach will the therapist take to help you? Is the therapist’s approach a good fit for your difficulties?
  3. If the therapist is working with your teenager, do they have experience working with teens? What is different about working with someone underage?
  4. What are the goals of therapy, and how will the success of the treatment be assessed? Are the treatment techniques evidence-based (meaning their effectiveness is proven based on research studies)?
  5. Are psychiatric medications an option? If the therapist is not a doctor like a psychiatrist, how will any prescription drugs be prescribed?
  6. Are the sessions confidential? How can this be assured?

For teenagers, the last question can be a big deal. They want to know the limits of confidentiality and how safe they will be in a therapeutic relationship. Hence, teenagers often want to make sure the therapist won’t be “reporting” or “telling” on them to their parents. Indeed, they need certain assurances to open up.

What Usually Happens in a Teenage Therapy Session

Therapy is not like taking an aspirin to cure a headache; the results are not necessarily immediate. It often takes time until a breakthrough happens. Thus, remembering that the first therapy session is the first step on the road to recovery for your teen and not a quick fix is important.

A first therapy session often involves filling out paperwork before the work begins. If you are a parent, please give yourself time to help your adolescent navigate this process. Beyond the paperwork, first sessions often feel like a casual meet-and-greet. You are testing the waters, and the therapist is there to help you get comfortable. This is an opportunity for you and your teen to decide whether or not the therapist is a good fit for them.

During the first therapy session, questions will be asked to help orient the therapist. These teen therapy questions can include the following:

  • A teenager’s background and childhood
  • What a teen likes and dislikes in school
  • Friends and social relationships, both in and after school
  • Family life, including parents and siblings
  • What a teen hopes to achieve in the therapeutic process

If you are a bit nervous, you are not alone. In truth, it’s a typical response to yourself or your teen starting therapy. Rather than let the nervousness get the best of you, act curious like an explorer learning about a new experience. By learning how to be more open, your teenager can walk through new doors and start unexpected adventures.

If you are unsure if your teen needs to see a therapist or want more information on how to start the process, please contact us at Teenrehab.org, and our trained specialists can assist you in finding the help your teen needs.

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