Therapy FAQ

Finding the Best Counselor for Your Teen

Mental health issues among teenagers are an alarming problem globally. According to the Office of Population Affairs, about 49.5% of U.S. adolescents have dealt with a mental health condition at some point.  Luckily, early intervention and treatment from a counselor can lessen the devastating impacts of mental health disorders on their lives. This article explores […]

isbell oliva garcia grow therapy By Isbell Oliva-Garcia, LMHC

Updated on Jan 12, 2024

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Mental health issues among teenagers are an alarming problem globally. According to the Office of Population Affairs, about 49.5% of U.S. adolescents have dealt with a mental health condition at some point. 

Luckily, early intervention and treatment from a counselor can lessen the devastating impacts of mental health disorders on their lives. This article explores teen counseling, expectations from a therapy session, and how to find a teen counselor near you.

What Is Teen Counseling?

Teen counseling is a therapeutic process that helps teens express their feelings, identify and solve their concerns, and develop robust, research-driven coping strategies. Teen counseling can be conducted as one-on-one talk therapy or as group therapy.

Kristian Wilson, a registered LMHC with Grow Therapy, states, “Because adolescence is characterized by emotional vulnerability, adolescent counseling aims at making adolescent experiences less disturbing. It allows teens to express their thoughts, emotions, and wishes that they think are often overwhelming or difficult to handle.”

Difference Between Therapy and Counseling

Wilson continued, “Psychotherapy and counseling are both treatments for mental health conditions; it involves talking with a trained mental health specialist. You talk about thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to understand them better and work collaboratively to improve mental wellness. 

“Counseling, talk therapy, or therapy are often used interchangeably with psychotherapy. There’s a variation between psychotherapy and counseling. Counseling focuses on one specific issue and is considered short-term treatment. You may learn coping skills and solve the issue together. Psychotherapy treats a broader range of issues and more complex problems. It can be a long-term treatment.” 

Counseling is essential for teens facing the following:

Counseling provides a safe environment for teenagers to work through their mental health problems. They can discuss their distressing emotions and thoughts, explore childhood trauma, and build more robust dynamics with family members.

For those who aren’t in a crisis, teen counseling offers additional support to improve their well-being.

Benefits of Teen Counseling

Counseling plays a critical role in helping your teen overcome situations that affect their daily lives and those that turn into problems later on. Wilson states, “Teens, like adults, can benefit greatly from counseling. Adolescent therapy helps teens deal with specific emotions. It can also help navigate adolescent challenges, manage life stressors, and adjust to major changes.”

Counseling can be beneficial for teens in the following ways:

Improving Mental Health

Counseling provides teens with a safe place to understand and express their stressors and learn to control complex emotions. As a result, teenagers can develop strategies for living a healthy life free from harmful behaviors.

Increasing Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

While counseling helps teens discuss their problems, it also allows them to explore their strengths. By doing so, counseling helps teens deal with low self-esteem by creating a solid sense of how they’re wired. As guided by a counselor, teenagers can build the trust and confidence necessary to set and achieve their goals.

Autonomy and Identity Development

Counseling helps teens to develop a sense of identity by defining their values and promoting self-awareness. Through counseling, teens can understand who they are and reflect on what they want for themselves. As a result, they can learn about self-care, motivation, and self-accountability.

In addition, a teen therapist aims to understand how teenagers view themselves, others, and the world. This way, teens develop a deeper self-awareness while addressing cognitive blocks and distortions to accept individuality.

Counseling provides a safe environment for teenagers to work through their mental health problems.

Establish and Improve Relationships With Others

Counselors help teens understand their relational styles and needs by identifying patterns, allowing teens to create healthy boundaries, and maintain meaningful connections with others. Further, teens learn to process emotions concerning relationship problems and develop practical conflict-resolution skills.

Supporting Teens’ Growth and Development

There are different developmental milestones that teens have to reach for them to progress to the next stage of their teenage years. Counseling can help teens achieve their developmental goals by working through each step and its impact on emotional, behavioral, and social development.

Improved Performance at School

Counseling helps teens set their priorities and increase their motivation. With a clear understanding of who they are and their motivators, teens can avoid possible distractions, leading to academic excellence.

Signs Your Teen Needs Counseling

Wilson states, “Kids and teens need therapy if they have a hard time coping with issues that affect how they feel or act. If things don’t improve on their own, kids may need therapy to help. Sometimes, families need support to communicate, learn, and create boundaries.”

Although change is expected during the teenage years, parents should be aware of specific behavioral symptoms and seek professional interventions. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, adolescents may need an evaluation if they:

Teen counseling covered by insurance

Find a counselor

Teens may also need immediate attention if they have the following problems:

Withdrawal from Family Members

While it’s normal for teens to be alone and more secretive around parents, sudden withdrawal may indicate something is wrong. For instance, your child may suffer from trauma, depression, or bullying. Counseling can help to uncover the reasons behind this behavioral change.

They Continuously Feel Angry

Constant feelings of anger can be a symptom of various mental health problems like anxiety, borderline personality disorder, or PTSD. Counseling helps teens manage anger by teaching them how to better understand and manage their emotions.

They Appear Overly Anxious

If your teen is overly anxious by various situations, for instance, social interactions or athletic performance, they could benefit from counseling. A teen therapist can provide cognitive interventions and relaxation exercises to help your child manage anxiety and related issues like OCD.

Change of Friends

While friends are good, the sudden change may be due to a deeper issue. Through counseling, a professional can assess and review possible signs of distress and the reason for this sudden change.

Poor Performance at School

If your child suddenly starts to get low grades at school, it could result from an undiagnosed issue. For instance, your child’s mental health could be affected, or they may have trouble concentrating. Professional counselors can identify the issues troubling your child and develop strategies to improve their academic performance.

What to Expect in a Teen Counseling Session

During the first few sessions, counselors seek to establish a therapeutic relationship with their clients. They also encourage teens to discuss their problems and other aspects like family and overall wellness. Counselors may sometimes include parents in the session, together or separately. 

Counselors adopt one or multiple therapeutic models to guide teens to understand how their thoughts, feelings, and actions affect each other. In therapy sessions, teens learn coping skills like mindfulness exercises, calm breathing, and positive self-talk, among other strategies. Teens will also learn to identify their inner strengths, such as confidence and courage.

Counselors will also uphold the confidentiality of the session to create a safe environment for teens to express their issues. Therefore, parents can only access the child’s reports during counseling if the child consents. However, the counselor may break confidentiality to the parent if:

A counselor should notify the patient before disclosing their reports to parents to ensure the trust is not lost.

How Do I Find a Teen Counselor Near Me?

According to Wilson, “You can find a therapist via the Grow Directory, referrals, insurance panels, and advocacy groups. Consider credentials, experience, and confidentiality, among other factors. When discussing the decision to begin therapy with adolescents, focus on context rather than faults. Find a therapist you and your child feel comfortable with. It may take several therapy visits before your child learns new skills and keeps them up. Meet with your child’s therapist.”

How to Find a Therapist Using Grow Therapy

Grow Therapy offers a platform where you can find a therapist who meets your needs and accepts your insurance. You can browse curated lists of providers based on your needs and connect with a counselor in your comfort zone.

As you look for the best counselor for your teen, consider their therapeutic techniques. Counselors may use various therapeutic approaches and modalities for their treatment plan. Common methods that counselors may use include the following:

Be sure to ask the prospective therapist how their selected approach works and the kind of intervention they use during initial appointments.

You should also consider checking a counselor’s education and licensure. A counselor should hold a counseling degree with at least 48 semester hours of graduate-level coursework from an accredited program. Because licensure requirements vary from state to state, check a counselor’s license with local licensing boards.

Every provider with Grow Therapy has the proper licensing. But beyond formal accreditation, consider the counselor’s experience working with teens.

Questions to Ask a Teen Counselor

To ensure you find the right fit for your teen, consider asking potential therapists the following:

After they have answered these questions, review how satisfied you and your teen are with their services and approaches.

Find a Teen Counselor Today

Mental health problems among teenagers are an alarming issue that can devastate their lives. Harm can be prevented by understanding what teen counseling is, its importance, and when it’s needed.

Knowing how to find the best therapist for your teen and what to expect from a counseling session can foster better results. At Grow Therapy, we help people connect with qualified therapists in their area who accept their insurance. Use our search tool to find a teen therapist who suits your needs.


  • It depends on the goals you and your child's therapist have. A therapist usually wants to meet with your child once a week for a few months. On average, 15 to 20 sessions are required for 50 percent of patients to recover or make meaningful changes, depending on the circumstances.

  • Different counselors have different age brackets. Be sure to ask your potential counselor before booking a session.

  • With Grow Therapy, sessions can cost as little as $0, depending on your insurance plan. Browse our marketplace to find a counselor who accepts your insurance plan and suits your needs.

About the author
isbell oliva garcia grow therapy Isbell Oliva-Garcia, LMHC

Isbell Oliva-Garcia is a licensed mental health counselor, bilingual in English and Spanish. Isbell specializes in women's issues during difficult times of transition and also works with front-line individuals struggling with PTSD or stressors created by the job.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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