Teens can benefit from talk therapy just as much as adults, whether it’s for mood swings and anxiety issues, or exam blues, relationship troubles, and school pressure. Talk therapy is not limited to people with mental health conditions and can be a powerful tool to enable introspection and a healthier outlook on life even when a person considers themselves mentally healthy.
The argument for talk therapy can be summed up as preventative care: making sure minor problems don’t brew into major issues down the line, while helping teens build life skills that will continue to serve them as bastions of resilience and strength against mental health issues in the future.
What is Talk Therapy?
Talk therapy is another term for psychotherapy or individual therapy. In talk therapy, a patient and a therapist discuss a patient’s thoughts, concerns, experiences, worries, ambitions, and more.
The point of each therapy session is to make progress on the patient’s mental wellbeing, which may involve thought exercises and “homework,” such as writing a daily journal entry or making observations about one’s responses and emotional states at work or at school.
Combining Talk Therapy with Therapeutic Methods
Different forms of talk therapy apply different questions and therapeutic methods to help a patient make progress. Nearly all therapy centers around introspection, wherein a therapist helps their patient reflect on their way of thinking and their coping methods in order to think healthier, more positive thoughts and develop better, more effective coping skills.
As an example, a therapist treating a teen with depression through cognitive behavioral therapy may teach their patient to identify and isolate self-deprecating and negative thoughts, to dissociate from them, and use positive affirmations to negate these thoughts. These positive affirmations will be rooted in truth, focusing on the teen’s strengths or positive attributes.
It might not feel convincing or effective at first, but reinforcing this type of mental work can, in turn, change the way a patient feels, creating a stronger self-image and healthier self-esteem. This can take as few as five or as many as 20 sessions.
Talk Therapy isn’t Always Used Alone
Talk therapy is not always used on its own. It may be reinforced through medication, helping the brain dull severe symptoms of depression, anxiety, or another mental health problem while training a teen to refute and replace unwanted thoughts when they arise.
How Does Talk Therapy Help with Depression?
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most used talk therapy method for cases of depression. Depression in teens can range from a mild or temporary issue to a long-term chronic condition, or a severe and debilitating mental health problem. Regardless of severity, talk therapy is often a central part of treating a depressed patient.
It is true that you cannot “talk your way out” of a depression. It is also true that conditions like depression do not have a cure. Mood disorders are mental health conditions that may resolve themselves over time but are often chronic and long-lasting. For teens with depression, this might mean struggling with dark thoughts from time to time, for years or decades.
Talk Therapy Builds Reinforcements Against Depression
The point of talk therapy is to reinforce habits that help a teen build resilience against these thoughts, anticipate and isolate them, learn not to listen to them, and learn how to refute them with real-life examples of joy and happiness.
We also know that conditions like depression are exacerbated and disarmed by risk factors and protective factors alike. Excessive stress and poor physical health can make depressive symptoms worse and more frequent. Taking care of oneself, spending more wholesome time with friends, and insisting on a healthier work-life balance can help keep depression at bay.
In many cases, talk therapy involves helping patients lay the foundation for the habits and mindset that will keep them safe from depressing thoughts in the future.
Therapy and Addiction
Substance use is another condition where talk therapy, both individual therapy, and group therapy, plays an important role in treatment. Substance use disorder or addiction is a very complicated health problem with compounding social, physical, and psychological factors.
While talk therapy alone does not address all these factors, it can be key to helping patients re-establish themselves in the aftermath of addiction, reaffirm their interests, reclaim their hobbies, and emphasize their newfound lives in sobriety.
There are very few medications for addiction – some medications help cut down on alcohol cravings, for example, while others block the effects of addictive substances like opioids, eliminating the high.
Most of the work in overcoming and surviving addiction relies on guided introspection through one-on-one therapy and group therapy sessions, positive affirmations, healthy coping mechanisms to avoid or defeat cravings, and a long-term support plan.
How Can I Convince My Teen to Try Therapy?
More than half of those who are diagnosed with a mental health problem are not getting the help they need. In many cases, it’s a matter of misinformation, fear of judgment, financial worry, and other factors. In your teen’s case, they may be worried about what might happen if news got out about their therapy. Or, they might be worried that it won’t work and that you would be wasting your time and money.
Sometimes, just talking to your teen will be enough to get them to try it out. Letting them know that you’re in their corner and want them to get the best possible care is important. At other times, it may take more than a single heart-to-heart. Consulting with a therapist beforehand might get you some important pointers on how to bring your teen to therapy.
Being a teen represents being at a major crossroads in life physically, socially, and mentally. Teens are at the cusp of their transformation into adulthood, which brings with it a set of responsibilities and new authorities they need to learn to manage.
Meanwhile, becoming an adult means teens will be expected to do more, first at school, then in the workplace, introducing more sources of overwhelming stress. While all this is happening, teens are struggling with their own emotional and sexual identity and maturity, learning to develop as individuals and cementing their personality traits.
Talk therapy can help teens navigate these issues and accompanying life stressors, before they’re further complicated by anxious or depressed thinking, or other symptoms of illness. In teens who are already struggling with a condition like depression, talk therapy can help them navigate their thoughts and develop better habits.
For more information, contact us today. We are here to help you and your teen. At Visions Treatment Centers, we offer residential treatment programs for teens that address various mental health conditions and diagnoses.