Psychotherapy treatment, also known as talk therapy or counseling, is a form of therapeutic treatment that involves working closely with a psychologist, psychiatrist or a clinical psychotherapist. By speaking with such professionals, a young person learns about their psychological disorder, their feelings, emotions, behaviors, thoughts and moods, and their addictive behaviors as well.
Through psychotherapy, teens in trouble grow into their shoes. They learn how to take responsibility and address root traumas behind problematic behavioral patterns. The ultimate goal of psychotherapy treatment is to help people live happier, healthier and more productive lives.
About Psychotherapy Treatment
In the process of such treatment, mental health professionals apply scientifically validated methods of psychotherapy. The goal is to help people develop more effective habits. Psychotherapy benefits manifest in a variety of ways; young people in psychotherapy treatment often learn how to deal with troubling behavioral patterns and cope with out-of-control emotions. Thus, they gain greater control of their lives by taking back the reins from addictions or mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.
According to the National Institute on Mental Health, more than a quarter of Americans deal with depression, anxiety or another mental illness. Thus, larger and larger percentages of these people seek help from psychotherapists. Indeed, the stigma that once plagued psychotherapy treatment largely is no longer an issue, it has now entered the mainstream of American society.
Psychotherapy is a collaborative treatment between an individual and a psychotherapist. Thus, the methods of psychotherapy and the limitations of psychotherapy are closely related. If a person with a psychological problem wants psychotherapy to work for them, they need to take part in the process.
In other words, talk therapy can only work if a person is willing to open up and talk and a psychotherapist creates a safe space to make this interaction occur.
Based in a back and forth dialogue between an individual and a clinical psychotherapist, psychotherapy treatment opens the door to understanding and even personal revelation. By fostering a supportive environment with someone who’s objective, neutral and nonjudgmental, a psychotherapist allows for what is hidden or closely guarded to be safely revealed.
Thus, psychotherapy benefits include the ability to identify and change underlying thought patterns that keep a young person in conflict from feeling well and balanced.
Is Psychotherapy Treatment Right for Your Teenager?
If you are a parent and caregiver and you are unsure if psychotherapy is right for your teenager, you are not alone. However, the research is convincing that psychotherapy can help resolve deep-seated conflicts and issues.
If your teen is struggling with substance use disorder or any other addictive issue, psychotherapy helps to address the root causes behind the negative behavioral patterns. Often, teen abusing drugs and alcohol are desperately seeking relief from psychological suffering.
Hence, renowned addiction specialist Dr. Gabor Maté defines his treatment mantra as, “The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain.” By addressing the pain behind the addiction, the psychotherapy methods can uncover the trauma that led to a young person’s need to escape through self-medication.
Psychotherapy Benefits for Teens
As a parent or a caregiver, you should consider treatment for your teenager if they experience prolonged psychological struggles and mental health issues. As detailed by the American Psychological Association, below is a list of symptoms that often motivate a parent to access such the help of a clinical psychotherapist:
- Overwhelming feelings of sadness and helplessness
- Anxiety issues that never seem to get better
- Always on edge because the worst is always expected
- Extreme acting out and rebellious behavior
- Difficulty concentrating on assignments and daily activities
- Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol
If your teen is suffering from one or more of these symptoms, then it makes sense to set-up a consultation with a psychotherapist or even consider at a mental health rehab. Such options provide many with outstanding results.
After all, the ultimate goal is to find relief for your teenager from needless suffering.
Methods of Psychotherapy and Psychotherapy Sessions
The methods of psychotherapy come into play in the course of psychotherapy sessions. Such sessions are conducted in a variety of ways, including an individual, family, couple, or group setting. In the majority of cases, individual sessions are the normative approach to psychotherapy treatment. In an individual session, it is easier for a clinical psychotherapist to foster a safe space where therapeutic work happens.
Most psychotherapy sessions are 30 to 50 minutes long. There are certain limitations to psychotherapy session. Psychotherapy is not like an x-ray where an individual has to lie down and do nothing. Indeed, both patient and therapist need to be actively involved in the treatment process.
Such active involvement builds trust and leads to a positive therapeutic relationship between a young person and a psychotherapist. Depending on the mental health challenges, the treatment can be short-term (a few sessions), dealing with immediate issues, or long-term psychotherapy (months or years), dealing with longstanding issues of childhood trauma. After an initial assessment, the goals of treatment are laid out.
The initial assessment is essential because it helps to provide a diagnosis. Depending on the diagnosis, some mental health challenges take more time to address. In the beginning, a psychotherapist will outline a long-term strategy for the treatment. In the case of teens, such goals most likely are outlined with the parents providing the payment or insurance benefits.
Despite initial parental involvement, both teens and their parents need to know that confidentiality is a fundamental requirement of psychotherapy. Although teens share personal feelings and thoughts, intimate physical contact with a clinical psychotherapist is never appropriate, acceptable, or useful. Indeed, boundaries of professional decorum are an absolute necessity.
Types of Psychotherapy Treatment
Like in any professional discipline, there are many different types of psychotherapy. As a parent, you need to ask a psychotherapist what approach they plan to take with a teenager.
The choice of the psychotherapy type depends on a teen’s particular diagnosis and the experience of the therapist. Many therapists combine elements from different approaches to best treat the person under their care.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, these are the seven most widely-employed kinds of psychotherapy treatment:
- Psychodynamic therapy helps a person improve self-awareness so they can more fully take responsibility for and control of their life. It creatively addresses repressed trauma of childhood experiences that lead to inappropriate repetitive thoughts or feelings. Such thoughts or feelings often are unconscious (outside of the person’s awareness). Still, they have a powerful impact on behaviors.
- Psychoanalysis is a more intensive form of psychodynamic therapy between an individual and a psychotherapist trained in traditional psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis sessions typically occur three or more times a week. Thus, psychoanalysis is used as a long-term, intensive approach to mental struggles.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps a person identify behavioral patterns that are harmful or ineffective. The goal is to replace such behaviors and the thoughts behind them with more accurate thoughts and functional behaviors.
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a short-term form of treatment that helps a person understand underlying interpersonal issues that lead to pain and conflict. For example, IPT often is used to address unresolved grief, changes in social settings, disruptions in employment, and conflicts with significant others.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) helps regulate extreme emotions. It is often used to treat people with suicidal thoughts, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders and PTSD. Using both individual and group therapy, DBT focuses on identifying cognitive distortions and replacing destructive thought patterns.
- Supportive therapy is when a therapist uses guidance and encouragement to help a person develop their own resources. The goal is to build self-esteem, strengthen coping mechanisms, and improve social functioning. Supportive therapy helps patients address issues affected by their mental health conditions.
- Animal-assisted therapy takes place between a trained clinician and a person or a larger group. By working with dogs, horses () or other animals, people learn to take care of themselves by taking care of the animals. Also, contact with the animals brings comfort by addressing trauma-related issues.
Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Clinical Psychotherapist
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “The particular approach a therapist uses depends on the condition being treated and the training and experience of the therapist.” When you find a potential therapist to treat your teenager, a preliminary conversation can help you get an idea of how treatment will proceed and whether you feel comfortable with the therapist. Indeed, rapport is important.
To help build trust, the NIMH provides a list of questions to ask when interviewing a psychotherapist. This extensive list of questions includes the following:
- What are the credentials and experience of the therapist? Does he or she have a specialty?
- What approach will the therapist take to help and is the approach evidence-based?
- Does the therapist have experience in diagnosing and treating teens?
- How will parents be involved in the psychiatric treatment process?
- What are the goals of therapy, and how will progress be assessed?
- Are psychiatric medications an option, and will parents be consulted about the use of such medications? How will medications be prescribed if the therapist is not an M.D.?
In many cases, psychiatric medications are used as a bridge to help the treatment start to work effectively. For example, an antidepressant can lessen the suffering of a depressive teen, thus opening the door to effective talk therapy.
Will Psychotherapy Treatment Work for my Teenager?
This question is hard to answer. Once again, psychotherapy is not like taking an aspirin to treat a headache. Indeed, the process is a bit of a question mark.
However, according to the American Psychological Association, close to 75 percent of people who enter psychotherapy see a benefit from the psychiatric treatment. Moreover, a majority of young people start to see changes between six and twelve weeks. However, since everyone is different, individualized results are to be expected.
Psychotherapy treatment is not like taking a magic pill. Instead, the process takes time and is challenging. Still, the benefits of psychotherapy are impressive to behold when the treatment works. Such benefits can lead to freedom from psychological pain.
Indeed, psychotherapy often provides the safe space a teenager needs to restore their balance and build a broken-down sense of self-esteem.