15 Healthy Therapy Activities for Teens

Exploring therapy activities for teens offers numerous benefits, including enhancing emotional expression, promoting self-awareness, and fostering resilience. These activities provide a safe space for teens to explore and understand their feelings, develop coping strategies, and build confidence. Engaging in therapy can also improve communication skills, support mental health, and encourage positive behavioral changes, which are crucial for adolescent development and well-being.

Looking for healthy therapy activities for teens? Therapy activities for teens are not just about talking; they involve creative, engaging, and effective methods to help teens express themselves, understand their emotions, and build essential life skills.

Imagine your teen learning to manage stress, communicate better, and gain confidence through activities that are both fun and therapeutic. These activities are designed to resonate with teens, making therapy something they look forward to rather than shy away from.

In this article, we explore 15 healthy therapy activities for teens to explore.

Healthy Therapy Activities for Teens

Engaging in healthy therapy activities offers significant mental health benefits for teens.

These activities are tailored to meet the unique developmental needs of adolescents, providing them with tools to navigate emotional challenges. They foster self-awareness and emotional intelligence, which are crucial during these formative years.

Through such activities, teens learn to articulate their feelings, manage stress, and develop coping mechanisms. This proactive approach to mental wellness not only addresses current issues but also equips teens with lifelong skills for emotional resilience. By participating in these therapeutic activities, teens can build a strong foundation for their mental health and overall well-being.

Here are some therapy activities for teens that can help improve and support mental health and well-being.

Expressive Arts Therapy

Expressive arts aren’t limited to a single canvas or medium. During expressive arts therapy, teens are encouraged to utilize a variety of mediums to express what they might not be able to via face-to-face communication, on paper, or through their voice. A creative outlet can be freeing, but it can also be an opportunity for introspection. 

Outdoor Activities

The benefits of the great outdoors on the human psyche are well established. We have a connection to nature, and spending more time around it can help us feel calm, improve our mood, and even positively impact our physical health – more so than just walking around. 

Mindfulness Meditation

Meditation techniques can be difficult to learn, but mindfulness exercises focus on bringing a step-by-step approach for teens to learn how to live in the moment and reap the mental benefits of side-stepping rumination or a negative spiral. 


Consistently writing down your daily thoughts and experiences – whether in a structured diary entry, a dotted list of keywords, or via stream-of-consciousness – can help teens reflect on their experiences, review emotional outbursts or strong feelings with a sense of introspection, and focus on the good versus the bad. 

Music Therapy

Just like expressive art therapy helps teens convey emotion through a physical medium, music therapy aims to help teens do the same via music. Some teens are not just musically inclined but actually have a much greater emotional connection to music and are able to feel and share much more through sound than through words or pictures. Collaboration is also a crucial part of music, emphasizing social skills. 

Animal-Assisted Therapy

Working with animals and caring for animals can help calm teens, and give them a sense of purpose, boosting their self-esteem. Animal-assisted therapy also takes advantage of the fact that we feel better when we’re doing something for someone else. Animal-assisted therapy also helps teens cultivate feelings of responsibility towards others and practice empathy, learning to relate to people with greater compassion. 


Yoga combines physical activity with mindfulness and relaxation through breath and release. Teens learn to incorporate and explore a new kind of exercise while learning to practice mindfulness through a physical approach.

Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy emphasizes teamwork in outdoor and indoor environments through obstacle courses or even escape rooms. These help teens learn to work together and foster important social skills. 

Drama Therapy

Drama therapy utilizes roleplaying and stage preparation (including prop and costume creation) to help explore different roles and discuss therapeutic lessons through the lens of a figure or character, especially for teens who aren’t otherwise able to process their own experiences at the moment.

Volunteer Work

Spending time giving back to others can be cathartic and deeply rewarding. Volunteer work teaches teens to benefit from selflessness and aspire to continue to leave a positive impact on other people around them while expecting nothing in return. 

Narrative Therapy

While drama therapy focuses on each of the elements necessary in theater, narrative therapy focuses specifically on harnessing your own experiences as a tool for therapy in teens who might benefit from learning to re-explore their lives through a different, more positive, and more constructive lens.  

Dance Therapy

While some teens use music or a canvas to express themselves, others can use their bodies through dance. Dancing as a form of exercise, creative expression, and even a form of active mindfulness helps teens process their emotions and experiences positively. 

Mind-Body Connection Exercises

For teens who might not necessarily respond to yoga or dance, there are other mind-body connection exercises, including breathing exercises, self-practicing martial arts, and even weight training. 

Cooking or Baking Classes

Cooking and baking are valuable life skills, but also help teens explore a different kind of constructive creativity while directly benefiting from their own labors of love. 


Experiential therapies and therapeutic activities can be more engaging than group therapy or individual therapy sessions in a classroom or residential setting.

Sometimes, engaging with teens on a physical or creative level helps them better understand the lessons taught during therapy and helps them internalize their treatment goals. These experiences also help create lasting memories that teens can draw on later in life. 

We at Visions focus on holistic treatments. We believe that it is important to provide a multimodal approach to mental health treatments, and our teen treatment programs help teens cultivate a large repertoire of useful tools for their long-term mental health while addressing the current symptoms of their condition. To learn more about our residential treatment program and other treatment modalities, send us a message today


10 Benefits of Talk Therapy for Teens

There are many benefits of talk therapy for teens, including providing a safe space to express their feelings, confront emotional pain, and develop coping strategies. With rising rates of anxiety, depression, and stress among teens, there has never been a more crucial time for therapeutic intervention.

The dilemma faced by parents and guardians is often whether to seek professional help for their teen’s emotional and mental issues. 

The numbers indicate an alarming rise in mental health disorders among adolescents. The question isn’t just about “if” you should consider therapy but “when.” 

Fortunately, talk therapy emerges as an effective approach to help teenagers navigate through their intricate emotional landscapes. In this article, we explore the various benefits of talk therapy for teens.

10 Benefits of Talk Therapy for Teens

Talk therapy is not just a place to “talk about your feelings.” It is a complex and beneficial process backed by years of research and success stories. 

Here are 10 benefits of talk therapy for teens:

1. Improved Emotional Regulation

One of the most significant benefits of talk therapy for teens is improved emotional regulation. Adolescence is a period marked by hormonal changes, social pressures, and identity formation—all of which can stir intense emotions. 

Without the right tools, teenagers may resort to harmful ways of coping, such as substance abuse or self-isolation. Talk therapy provides a structured environment where teens can explore these complex feelings under the guidance of a professional. 

Through techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness, they learn to identify triggers, manage their emotional responses, and express themselves more constructively.

2. Reduced Anxiety

The pressures of academic performance, social dynamics, and future uncertainties can contribute to escalating levels of anxiety in teenagers. 

Talk therapy offers a safe space for teens to untangle the complexities of their anxious feelings and thoughts. With the help of a trained therapist, teens learn coping strategies like deep breathing, grounding techniques, and challenging cognitive distortions. Over time, this allows them to build a mental toolkit to combat anxiety in different settings—be it in school, social gatherings, or even within their family environment. 

The reduction in anxiety levels can significantly enhance their quality of life and their ability to engage more fully with the world around them.

3. Enhanced Communication Skills

Talk therapy does more than provide a platform for emotional expression; it actively cultivates improved communication skills. Teens often struggle with articulating their feelings, which can result in misunderstandings, conflicts, and stress. In the therapeutic environment, they learn the value of clear communication, both verbal and non-verbal.

With guided conversations and role-playing scenarios, therapists help teens practice open dialogue. This fosters empathy and active listening skills, equipping them to navigate challenging conversations outside the therapy room. Over time, improved communication can lead to healthier relationships with family, friends, and even themselves.

4. Building Self-esteem

Low self-esteem is a common issue among teenagers, aggravated by societal pressures, academic expectations, and peer comparisons. Talk therapy can play a crucial role in building a teen’s self-esteem. It provides a space where they can explore their self-worth detached from external validations like grades or social media likes.

With targeted exercises and guided self-reflection, therapists help teens identify their strengths and areas for growth. The process often involves dismantling harmful self-beliefs and replacing them with more balanced, positive self-affirmations. As teens gain a more accurate and compassionate view of themselves, their self-esteem naturally improves, equipping them to face the world with greater confidence.

5. Crisis Management

Teenagers are not immune to crises, whether they come in the form of family issues, academic stressors, or sudden life changes. Knowing how to manage a crisis effectively is a skill that many adults, let alone teens, often lack. Talk therapy provides the training ground for learning such coping skills.

Through discussing past crises and hypothetical scenarios, therapists teach teens essential problem-solving techniques. This can include emotional regulation in high-stress situations, effective decision-making under pressure, and seeking appropriate support. The aim is to empower teens with the skills to not only cope with a crisis but to navigate through it in a way that promotes growth and learning.

6. Strengthened Relationships

Talk therapy has the transformative power to strengthen relationships, both within the family unit and beyond. The emotional intelligence gained in therapy often carries over into other facets of life, including friendships, family interactions, and even relationships with teachers or coaches. Teens learn important skills like empathy, active listening, and conflict resolution, which are vital for healthy relationships.

By understanding their own triggers and emotional patterns, teens can also engage in healthier ways with those around them. They become better at setting boundaries, articulating needs, and understanding the emotional states of others. This mutual understanding fosters stronger, more fulfilling relationships, reducing familial stress and increasing overall well-being.

7. Academic Success

The skills and emotional regulation learned in talk therapy don’t just stay in the therapist’s office; they translate directly to academic success. Focus and concentration often improve when a teen’s underlying emotional or behavioral issues are addressed. This improvement can manifest as better grades, a more positive attitude toward school, or increased participation in class activities.

Additionally, coping strategies learned in therapy can help teens manage academic stress, improving their performance during exams or large projects. By balancing emotional well-being with academic responsibilities, teens are better equipped to reach their educational goals without sacrificing their mental health.

8. Promotes Self-awareness

Self-awareness is a cornerstone benefit of talk therapy. Through the reflective space that therapy provides, teens gain a deeper understanding of their own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. This involves more than just understanding why they feel a certain way; it’s about recognizing patterns, triggers, and emotional responses.

With increased self-awareness comes the ability to make more informed choices. Whether it’s deciding how to handle a stressful situation or understanding the root of a recurring emotional state, self-awareness offers teens the tools they need to navigate their complex emotional landscapes. This improved self-knowledge can be a lifelong asset, serving them well into adulthood and in various aspects of life, from career choices to interpersonal relationships.

9. Resilience Building

One of the most invaluable skills that talk therapy imparts is resilience. Resilience isn’t just about bouncing back from adversity; it’s also about developing the mental and emotional fortitude to navigate through life’s challenges effectively. In a controlled, safe environment, teens can explore their vulnerabilities and work through setbacks, all under the guidance of a qualified therapist.

The strategies learned during these sessions are highly practical and can be applied in various areas of life. Whether facing academic pressures, social issues, or personal dilemmas, teens equipped with resilience can adapt and find ways to overcome. This skill is particularly important during adolescence, a period often characterized by turbulence and change, and lays the foundation for emotional resilience in adult life.

10. Future Planning

Talk therapy can be a vital resource for future planning, an aspect of life that many teens find overwhelmingly daunting. Whether they’re contemplating college, a career, or other significant life choices, the space provided by therapy offers them a unique platform to explore their options and preferences without judgment. Therapists can help teens explore their strengths, passions, and capabilities in a structured way, helping them make more informed decisions about their futures.

The process of future planning in therapy is about more than just logistical considerations; it’s also about aligning life goals with inner values and desires. By giving teens the tools to plan in alignment with their authentic selves, therapy facilitates not only a clearer path forward but also a greater likelihood of long-term happiness and fulfillment.

Explore Talk Therapy Today

Are you ready to explore the benefits of talk therapy for your teen? At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers in Southern California, we specialize in talk therapy tailored for teens. 

Our approach involves multi-modal strategies treating complex mental health issues, ensuring a successful, long-term impact. 

Contact us today at (866) 889-3665 or via email at to discuss personalized treatment options.


Talk therapy can make a world of difference in your teen’s life, offering a range of benefits from improved emotional regulation to enhanced self-esteem. If you’re concerned about a teenager in your life, don’t hesitate. 

Contact Visions today and start your journey toward a healthier, happier future. 


What Is Experiential Therapy?

Experiential therapy utilizes different activities to immerse teens in a calming experience, and better reach them through talk therapy methods. Where talk therapy focuses on the power of conversation to help achieve introspection, experiential therapy focuses on the power of actions. Experiential therapy includes different forms of art therapy, drama therapy, and animal-assisted therapies.

Teens might do well with experiential therapy for a few different reasons. In some cases, therapists might find that experiential therapy has a better shot of reaching a teen who might not seem receptive to discussing their thoughts or feelings in normal talk therapy sessions, or even within a group. 

In other cases, however, experiential therapy can serve as an alternative with a better chance of success due to the nature of a teen’s mental health issue. Experiential therapy can be more effective in the treatment of trauma or avoidance-based symptoms. 

What is Experiential Therapy?

The origins of experiential therapy as a formal framework for psychotherapy can be traced back to the 1940s. 

Since then, progress has been made in identifying different therapeutic activities and approaches that help people open up to a psychotherapeutic inquiry. In other words, finding and establishing helpful activities to facilitate the productive discussion of personal thoughts, anxieties, and past experiences, or act as a bridge for those conversations. 

Core Principles for Experiential Therapy

There are multiple core principles for experiential therapy. These include: 

  • Trust: The foundation of trust between client and therapist. 
  • Immersion: The immersion in an experience. 
  • Introspection: Using that experience to reflect. 
  • Client-driven: Therapists help guide clients, but don’t interfere in their experience, or try to interpret their experience for them. 
  • Problem-solving: Experiential therapy invariably leads to challenges or questions. It’s a therapist’s goal to help clients work through these problems themselves – and embrace the power to define and choose an answer. 
  • Awareness and Unconscious Processing: Experiential therapy delves deeper into the differences between thoughts and ideas we are aware of, and things that lurk beneath the surface. Part of experiential therapy involves helping a client choose to become aware of their unconscious thoughts and acknowledge them in a productive way. 

Types of Experiential Therapy

Experiential therapy exists in different forms. Some of these therapies may be more effective for individual teens than others. Clients and therapists work together to determine which kind of experiential therapy might work best for them. 

Some clinics and therapists utilize their own type of experiential therapy, but most experiential therapies can be broken down into the following categories: 

  • Art Therapy – Art therapy utilizes visual arts, primarily, as a therapeutic activity for teens. In these sessions, teens might be asked to work on something with a specific visual medium, such as oil paints, acrylic, crayons, watercolor, or charcoal. Art therapy can also include sculpting or arts-and-crafts activities, such as scrapbooking and origami. Sometimes, art is an outlet for frustration but doesn’t specifically relate to the therapeutic topic. Other times, it can be a vehicle for what a teen wants to say but can’t verbalize. 
  • Music Therapy – While music is certainly a form of art, most therapists separate art therapy from music therapy. The goal is the same – to harness the calming and positive nature of music, even aggressive or angry music, to act as an immersive activity to talk about mental health, and as a healthy outlet. 
  • Drama Therapy – Again, drama and acting can be art forms, but this type of experiential therapy is even further removed from the other two forms. During drama therapy, teens might be asked to write their own script, act out an existing script, or set the stage for a play. Drama therapy usually encompasses roleplaying and utilizes the benefit of exploring a character from the outside as a means to ask and answer difficult questions. 
  • Play Therapy – This form of experiential therapy is most often used with children, rather than teens or adults. Play therapy utilizes toys and games to help younger children work through difficult experiences or thoughts while talking with a therapist. 
  • Adventure-Based Therapy – Adventure-based experiential therapies may include hikes, sports or group activities, and team-building activities in residential clinics or facilities. These experiential therapies can strengthen the camaraderie between teen clients and serve as a positive outlet for stress in treatment. 
  • Animal-Assisted Therapy – Animal-assisted therapies usually utilize the soothing nature of taking care or being with an animal to help teens stay calm during therapy. Sometimes, taking care of an animal can help teens improve their sense of empathy and their communicative skills, as well as teach them about boundaries – both boundaries for other people, and boundaries for themselves. 

In contrast to talk therapy, experiential therapies are less known. Sometimes, parents and teens have questions about why certain experiential therapies work while others don’t, or why a therapist might have better luck addressing someone during a play or dramatic work than through a one-on-one conversation. 

Experiential therapies are a cornerstone of the treatment process here at Visions Treatment Centers. Alongside talk therapy programs and medication management, our various experiential therapies help teens with mental health issues and co-occurring disorders find better environments in which to explore their past, and face present challenges. Learn more about our treatment modalities and teen mental health programs at Visions. 


Whether through drama therapy or adventure-based activities, such as hikes, experiential therapies offer a powerful alternative path toward self-reflection and growth in a teen’s mental health journey. When part of a comprehensive and long-term treatment plan, experiential therapies also help teens discover positive coping mechanisms for the future, and help them find ways to tolerate different day-to-day stressors through art, music, or collaborative play. 


6 Therapy Questions for Teens and Their Parents to Ask

Talk therapy can be a tremendously powerful tool. But it can also be tantamount to trying to lead a conversation with a brick wall. It’s not just about the therapist and their skills. Therapy must be consensual and requires effort on every participant’s behalf. Therapy is often likened to a two-way street. Still, in many cases, it’s more like an intersection between multiple different parties, each taking an interest in self-improvement and mental health. 

Teens seeking treatment – whether through their family or on their own – will always continue to receive the most influence from their parents and the rest of their community, whether it’s their friends and peers or those they admire from afar. Parents are encouraged to be involved in their teen’s treatment, even if that means trying out family therapy together. 

If you’re unsure about seeking treatment alongside your child, it might help to clarify your concerns with your teen’s therapist and learn more about how their techniques might help you as well. Understanding how family therapy and other forms of group therapy can play a large role in treating your teen and improving their symptoms can also help. 

Here are six therapy questions for teens and their parents to ask.

1. Is Therapy Effective for Teens?

Talk therapy is an evidence-based and proven treatment for many mental health issues among children, teenagers, and adults alike. It is often a first-line treatment for cases of depression and anxiety disorders, as well as conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, complicated grief, and obsessive-compulsive disorder

But that is not to say that therapy is a panacea for mental health issues, that it always works, that it works the same for everyone, or that it is even the best option in every case. Like any other form of prescribed treatment, talk therapy has its risks, its issues, and its shortcomings – some of which are impossible to foresee. 

Some teens might not respond well to therapy and are less inclined to work with a therapist. Some conditions are especially difficult to treat with therapy alone, such as conditions with symptoms of psychosis or certain personality disorders. 

If you or your teen are considering therapy, or if a professional has recommended therapy to you, it might be a good idea to ask them more specifically: what can therapy do for me and my child? How can talk therapy or any other form of psychotherapy address the issues my teen has been experiencing? 

2. How Long Will Therapy Last?

If you have never been to therapy before, you may want to find out what it means to be in treatment. How long do sessions typically last? How long does a therapist treat a single patient? Are there specific signs of remission for certain mental health issues, such as those your teen is diagnosed with? How do insurance companies handle treatments like therapy if they go on for longer than a few weeks? How are payments and compensation handled? 

Practical questions regarding the length and extent of your teen’s treatment – with or without your involvement – are important. 

But so is an understanding of what your teen’s prognosis might be. Certain mental health conditions are chronic or can develop into a lifelong conditions. 

For example, a teen diagnosed with PMDD may be able to manage their symptoms through medication and therapy but may need to keep at it – both through medication and through behavioral modification, lifestyle changes, and so on – until menopause. Teens with ADHD may grow out of it, but not all do. Many adults continue to require medication such as Ritalin to focus on work and perform basic duties at home. 

Your therapist may not be able to give you a concrete idea of how long your teen might be in treatment, especially if they have just gotten started. But in some cases, they can give you an idea of how long it took patients with similar cases to start feeling better or see an improvement in their symptoms. 

3. What Kind of Therapy Will My Teen Be Treated With?

We’ve pointed it out earlier – talk therapy comes in different shapes and forms. While a lot of it is about conversation, there are different forms of therapy that may be more successful for some patients than others. Some therapists specialize in hypnosis. 

Others utilize techniques such as EMDR or trainspotting to improve a patient’s symptoms. Some conditions respond better to exposure therapy than cognitive-behavioral therapy. Some personality disorders respond best to dialectical behavior therapy

In some cases, animal-assisted therapy can help teens who struggle with anxiety begin to make headway in their treatment with the calming effect of an animal companion present or during the care of an animal such as a horse. 

4. Do You Do Teletherapy?

There may be days when making treatment is not feasible. Or circumstances prevent you and your teen from regularly attending treatment at a pace that would be practical. In these cases, a therapist might recommend teletherapy.

Teletherapy has been shown to be just as effective as face-to-face therapy, with the added benefit of giving patients who might not feel comfortable talking in person or do not have the means to visit a therapist regularly to seek therapy, nonetheless. 

5. What Can I Do to Help?

Therapists often encourage parents to be involved in their teen’s treatment. If you aren’t sure how to do so, a therapist is a perfect person to ask. 

They may ask you to attend one of your teen’s sessions, schedule a family therapy session to delve deeper into your teen’s relationship with you or provide tips on how you can positively contribute to your teen’s mental health and help manage your own stressors in the meantime. 

6. What Will Happen After Therapy?

A person may be in therapy consistently for weeks, months, or years at a time. They may be in therapy for a few months, then return years later when issues arise. Most mental health professionals do not see therapy as a cure but as a management tool – a training system to help patients better understand and contend with their mental health issues and affect their mood and behavior through conscious effort and the support of their loved ones. 

It takes time for therapy to work, like any other treatment. Be patient, and find a therapist you enjoy working with – one that you and your teen trust and like. 

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Therapy for Teens: What Parents Should Know

Are you curious about mental health therapy for teens but scared of the stigma?

Well, here’s a damning fact: we are well into the 21st century, with decades of progress in psychiatric medicine, and nearly half of the American workforce still believes that seeking therapy is a sign of weakness.

Research tells us that psychotherapy – a set of guided conversations and exercises between a trained professional and a client/patient – is one of the most effective forms of treatment for the majority of mental health issues that we face. Yet despite growing rates of depression, anxiety, and psychosis, most people either do not get the help they need or do not seek it out, to begin with.

We must do better, especially for our children. The attitudes we take on regarding health, both mental and physical, often reflect in our offspring. The fact is that despite the fear of peer pressure, teens are overwhelmingly influenced by their parents and rely on their parents to be positive role models. Furthermore, teens are struggling.

Rates for anxiety and depression are higher than ever as awareness around mental health issues continues to soar. Yet instead of seeking treatment, many teens with mental health issues become susceptible to other, more maladaptive forms of coping. They may develop self-esteem issues and eating disorders, struggle with substance use, or fall into an online rabbit hole of scams or even hate speech marketed as a form of “self-improvement.”

Many teenagers need help, and therapy for teens can be one of these forms of help. Here’s what parents should know.

Does Therapy for Teens Work?

Yes. There is ample research specifically on the topics of adolescent mental healthcare and the efficacy of talk therapy protocols as treatment modalities for teen patients. Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy see as much success in teens as they do in adults, in addition to specialized forms of therapy applied to various diagnoses, such as EMDR, exposure therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.

One particular type of therapy that may be more effective for adolescent patients is family therapy. There are different forms of family therapy, but each focuses on addressing issues within a family unit or even a small subsection of a community, rather than focusing solely on an individual.

Family therapy programs center around the idea that treating a patient’s symptoms in isolation is not enough when the root cause or major contributing factors to their condition are still present at home. Family therapy can help parents and other relatives better understand their loved one’s condition, discover interpersonal issues that may be contributing to their mental malady, and improve communication skills between teens and parents alike.

Therapists understand that parents play a vital role in a teen’s therapeutic process. Individual therapy sessions can help teens immensely, but it’s the parent who has the most influence and plays the greatest role in a teen’s behavioral and mental development. Family therapy helps explore this dynamic and utilize it in the best interests of the teen and parents alike.

Does Your Teen Need a Diagnosis to Go to Therapy?

One of the most common misconceptions about therapy is that it is only needed when prescribed by a professional. Although a formal psychological evaluation can help and therapeutic services are more likely to be covered by certain insurance policies if you receive a referral from a professional first, it’s also important to note that you don’t need to wait for a problem to be diagnosed before you can decide to seek someone to talk to, whether you’re an adult or a teen.

Everyone who thinks they might benefit from therapy should ultimately go to therapy. A therapist can help you improve your focus and productivity, address emotional problems at their root, figure out why you struggle with intimacy or have other common relationship issues, and can help you identify and replace maladaptive coping skills with healthier methods of coping regardless of your lack of a specific diagnosis or mental health issue.

Should you feel the need to visit a therapist every time you feel upset or anxious? If it helps you feel better, yes.

On the other hand, there are also circumstances under which a therapist’s help is more than just optional but a necessary part of a long-term recovery and treatment process.

When Should a Teen Go to Therapy?

Teens may get a referral from a mental health professional (a psychiatrist or psychologist) or their primary care physician if they struggle with the following:

Behavioral Problems

These include a wide range of behaviors that may involve acting out aggressively towards others, or showing signs of unprompted rage, extreme narcissism or disregard for others (seeming lack of empathy and compassion), recurring relationship problems, and even recurring legal issues (frequently vandalizing, getting caught stealing, drunk driving or speeding, exhibitionism, substance use, and so on).

Recurring Sadness

Sadness and depression are two very different things, and it’s important for parents to be able to tell the difference. Sadness comes and goes, but depression lingers for weeks at a time, seeping into everything a teen does to the point that they struggle with things they used to excel at or have an easy time with and no longer feel any interest in old hobbies or activities they used to enjoy.

Depression can be brought on by anything or by nothing at all. Some teens begin to struggle with symptoms of depression after a triggering event, such as a breakup or the loss of a loved one. Others may develop depression over time without a clear origin or cause. Not talking about it makes it worse.

Insurmountable Anxiety

Some teens are naturally more anxious than others. But an anxiety disorder can be debilitating, affecting a teen’s personal life, academic life, and future career.

Anxiety disorder symptoms can be manageable at times, but without structure or positive coping mechanisms, teens can fall into maladaptive coping habits and develop other comorbid problems. If your teen is frequently struggling with doubt, fear, and low self-esteem, they may be facing daily anxious thoughts and have no way of dealing with them.

Get Therapy for Teens at Visions Treatment Centers

Therapy for teens can go a long way towards helping a teen understand why they might feel the way they sometimes do and can help them develop the tools they need to combat negative thoughts and emotions, improve their behavior, and lead a more fulfilling life. Support your teen in getting the help they might need.

For more information about therapy for teens and teen mental health services, contact Visions Treatment Centers.

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Get Help at a Teen Mental Health Program This Year

We may be in the midst of a teen mental health crisis. Teens are experiencing unprecedented rates of anxiety and depression, both of which continue on a steady climb, while information about available mental health resources – like finding a suitable outpatient or residential teen mental health program – appears to lag behind.

It’s important to know how to identify that your teen may need help – and recognize what kind of help might be best for them.

Does Your Teen Need Mental Health Treatment?

A teen mental health program can become relevant for teens when their emotional state and behaviors begin to negatively impact their lives, to the degree that they repeatedly struggle to stay out of trouble at home or at school.

Teen mental health programs are also important to consider when a teen is badly hurt or even hospitalized as a result of actions that they do not appear to be able to control, whether it’s a self-destructive tendency, an extreme attraction to risk, or other forms of volatile behavior.

A teen might see a therapist after the death of their loved one, especially if their grief has been as severe on the hundredth day as on the first. But they won’t necessarily be referred to a teen treatment program unless a thorough mental assessment first determines a likely diagnosis.

It is a mistake to try and diagnose your teen yourself or indulge in what they think they might have. Symptoms of major depression and anxiety can often mask a different mood disorder or something else entirely, like a personality disorder.

Psychiatrists and trained doctors utilize different behavioral tests and one-on-one assessments to help understand and determine a teen’s troubles, and formulate an individual treatment plan that takes their circumstances into account.

What Does a Teen Mental Health Program Look Like?

A teen mental health program is a dedicated therapeutic plan developed by mental health professionals with the aim of addressing a teen’s individual circumstances on a biopsychosocial level – meaning their home life, physical conditions and medical history, social experiences at school and/or work, and significant risk factors, in addition to their mood and mental health history, comorbid conditionscurrent medications, and past treatment plans.

Teen mental health programs usually entail different levels of care. For example, an intensive inpatient program will often include a holistic approach that combines traditional psychotherapy with other treatment modalities, such as animal-assisted therapy, experiential therapy, and treatment-resistant modalities such as EMDR or nerve stimulation, all while providing room and board for teens in treatment.

In other words: teen mental health treatment programs come in different levels, and treatment is prescribed as per a teen’s situation, whether a thorough assessment finds that they’re diagnosed with multiple different mental health issues or a single diagnosis with severe symptoms.

Attributes of a Good Teen Mental Health Program

There are several components to a good teen mental health program. These include:

  • Complete care. Mental health programs are not solely to address a teen’s textbook symptoms. Doctors work with each other to identify all of the factors that are negatively affecting a teen’s thoughts and behavior, including their diagnosis, to create better outcomes.
  • Age-specific programming. Teens and children require different contexts and different forms of care from adults. The symptoms of certain disorders, such as PTSD, are different in teens versus adults. Age-specific programming, including age-specific treatment groups, ensures that teen patients receive tailored treatment.
  • Family involvement. More often than not, teens continue to be shaped by the actions and influences of their parents, even more so than their peers. Ensuring that parents or other family members understand the role they play in and outside of treatment helps create a better environment for teens to return to after their program ends.
  • Evidence-based treatment. Some programs incorporate other elements of care, including spiritual or faith-based care, whether in their therapy sessions or as part of the overarching theme of their clinic. But all good mental health programs must rely on a core of evidence-based treatments, including proven psychotherapy methods, alternative treatment methods with a robust body of work, and appropriately approved medications.
  • Assessment and reassessment of outcomes. Good treatment programs and clinics emphasize rigorous testing and evaluation of their methods and outcomes, whether through testimonials or outside reviews. Look for treatment providers who are proud of their reputation and openly allow former clients to talk about their treatment methods and staff. Avoid clinics that promote secrecy or are hesitant to reveal details about how they treat patients.
  • Individualized care. In addition to complete care, a good teen mental health program champions individualized care – every patient receives the treatment they need, with a treatment plan that is formulated for them after their initial assessment and is adjusted as needed.  
  • And more. Mental health treatment can be complex, and treatment facilities can differ in the modalities and specializations that they offer. Some treatment centers focus on addiction or trauma-related illnesses. Some only cater to teens, creating an environment specifically to help adolescent patients. Some treatment centers focus on providing care to women.

While the core tenets of most teen mental health programs are the same, they offer different levels of care to address patients with different needs. Some patients only need a structured treatment plan that asks them to come to see a professional twice a week and complete certain exercises at home.

Other plans are more rigorous or even require teens to live out on a special compound, such as a residential setting or a psychiatric hospital. These levels of care can generally be differentiated as either outpatient care or inpatient care, with varying degrees of intensity.

What Happens After Treatment?

For most teens, going through a mental health program for the first time is just the beginning of a long road. Most clinics and facilities emphasize that they are a stepping stone for long-term mental health treatment – some people require a lifetime of support through medication and different forms of therapy to mediate severe symptoms and function independently. Some people can bring their mental health condition into “remission” and lead a long and fulfilling life with minimal flare-ups, as long as they continue to take care of their stress and mental well-being. Some people experience a resurgence of symptoms and need an intensive care program before they can control their symptoms and live on their own again.

Your teen’s level of care, and the care they might need going forward, will differ from their peers even with the same diagnosis. Some cases are more severe than others, and some teens require different forms of support than others. But it’s important never to give up and to embrace the fact that we all need help, one way or the other.

For more information about enrolling in a residential treatment center for teens, contact Visions Treatment Centers today.

Bipolar Disorder Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Mental Health Therapy

CBT For Bipolar Teens: What It Is And How It Helps

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has a long history as one of the most effective and successful talk therapy methods to be developed in modern psychotherapy. But what is it, and how does CBT for bipolar disorder in teenagers help?

Understanding the power of therapy is important; more than just a friendly conversation, an experienced therapist leads and guides a patient through a structured, long-term dialogue and goal-oriented mission plan, helping patients learn to identify and isolate the thoughts and behaviors that characterize their mental health problems and make improvements day by day.

For people with bipolar disorder, a chronic mood disorder that can drastically change a person’s mindset, personality, and behavior, therapy can be one of the most powerful tools to mediate symptoms and lead a fulfilling and normal life. This is especially important for teens – an early assessment and treatment, like CBT for bipolar disorder, can help teens develop the coping skills they need to continue to take control of their disorder for years to come and recognize when they need outside help and support.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder, the same class of condition as severe or chronic depression. Indeed, depression is one of bipolar disorder’s most common symptoms, in addition to mania or hypomania.

Where depression is a debilitating and inescapable level of sadness and anhedonia (joylessness), mania is the opposite, albeit similarly debilitating mental state, where people experience restlessness and boundless energy in addition to dangerous feelings of grandeur, a loss of natural inhibition, and heightened irritability. It is not uncommon for symptoms of true mania to be severe enough to lead to hospitalization. Meanwhile, hypomania involves a lower intensity of symptoms than regular mania.

A case of bipolar disorder can be classified in multiple different ways.

  • Bipolar I involves at least one severe manic episode, with potential (but not necessary) depressive episodes.
  • Bipolar II describes both hypomanic and depressive episodes, but never just one or the other. A person who has experienced a severe manic episode has bipolar I, even if they experience hypomanic episodes from time to time.
  • Cyclothymia is described as a form of bipolar disorder that features milder symptoms than both bipolar I and II, with moderate symptoms of hypomania and depression. Cyclothymia is only diagnosed after at least two years of chronic mental health symptoms.
  • Other forms of bipolar disorder are either classified as a specified bipolar and related disorder or an unspecified bipolar and related disorder. The former describes symptoms that don’t quite match bipolar I, II, or cyclothymia, while the second is used to label patients who are likely struggling with bipolar disorder but have not been fully or thoroughly assessed yet.

Rapid Cycling in Bipolar Disorder

It should also be noted that, in only about one in ten cases, bipolar disorder can be rapid cycling. In cases of rapid cycling bipolar disorder, depressive and/or manic episodes occur more than four times a year. The average bipolar cycle takes months, contrary to popular belief. People who struggle with bipolar disorder are not constantly changing and shifting in their emotional state from extreme highs to extreme lows. Their mania comes and goes, as does their depression (if they get depressed).

Symptoms of bipolar disorder can take time to properly recognize and professionally assess. Mental health professionals must work with a patient to identify their symptoms and past episodes, and rule out potential conditions that may otherwise explain certain symptoms or might interfere with a diagnosis, such as:

One of the reasons it is important to correctly diagnose a teen with bipolar disorder is that bipolar disorder requires a different treatment process from any of the above mental health issues.

There are also specialized mood stabilizer medications that are typically only prescribed for patients with bipolar disorder. Medication can help moderate-severe symptoms. But medication alone is often insufficient to completely manage bipolar disorder. This is where therapies such as CBT for bipolar disorder and a one-on-one psychotherapy approach become important.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy developed through the combination of two different forms of talk therapy, namely cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. Both of these treatment methods were developed separately and for different mental health problems.

Cognitive therapy is characterized by a thought-based approach. Patients learn to identify and alter problematic thoughts through a combination of thought exercises, and by learning to separate the thoughts that trigger their negative moods from healthier thinking patterns. The idea, in many cases, is to take a patient away from blaming the past or themselves and to work on being more mindful of how their own thoughts can spiral them into different situations.

CBT for Bipolar in Teens

Behavioral therapy aims to address and alter the things we do. By focusing on actions, behavioral therapy can help teens learn better coping skills, stress management options and identify maladaptive behavior that contributes negatively to their mental health. A big part of behavioral therapy is learning to change these negative behaviors, and encourage positive action.

A combination of thought analysis and maladaptive behavioral pattern recognition can help teens with bipolar disorder through intensive one-on-one sessions, usually lasting an hour or longer.

Research shows that individuals undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy for bipolar disorder usually had fewer hospitalizations, fewer episodes, and lower rates of medication use while improving their psychosocial functioning, reducing the severity of their manic symptoms, and reducing depression.

Do I Need Treatment?

If you or a loved one are struggling with consistent and recurring depressive thoughts, as well as occasional symptoms of mania or manic thought – from completely uncharacteristic feats of performance at work or school after months of being in a slump or unusual energy levels and a change in personality – you may want to talk to a counselor or therapist about getting a professional assessment for your mental and physical health.

Bipolar disorder can be a lifelong condition, and though some people can cope with mild symptoms while undiagnosed, it can be a debilitating condition for millions of others.

Get the help you deserve today. Reach out to Visions Treatment Centers for more information.

Depression Mental Health Mood Disorders Therapy Treatment

Is Depression Medication for Teens Better Than Therapy?

Teen depression is one of the most common adolescent mental health issues in the world, second only to teen anxiety disorders. Depression is a serious and often debilitating mental health issue among teens and remains the most common cause of disability in the US. And for parents looking for different treatment options for their child, it’s not uncommon to wonder if depression medication for teens would be a better alternative than therapy or if it would be best to seek both.

Let’s talk about it.

When It’s More Than Sadness

More than just sadness, depression is overwhelming fatigue, unexplained aches, total loss of joy, increased pain sensitivity, lack of ability to generate or feel motivation, and unknown flare-ups in symptoms.

Many teens who struggle with depression struggle academically, have a hard time developing to their full potential and go through a much tougher road in life. Thankfully, depression is treatable. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan that works.

How Is Depression Treated?

The first line treatment for any teen or adult with major depressive disorder, the most common mood disorder and most common form of depression is a combination of psychotherapy and selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

SSRIs are some of the most recent antidepressants in a long line of different drug families, and they are some of the most well-researched psychiatric drugs in the world. But they are not a miracle cure for depression, and they often don’t work too well just on their own.

Psychotherapy is one-on-one talk therapy between a trained mental health professional and a patient. In the case of depression, the most commonly used therapeutic method is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy developed in the 1970s and 1980s by combining the individual successes of cognitive therapy (focused on patient thoughts and thinking patterns) and behavioral therapy (focused on habits, actions, and controlling one’s responses in life).

When combined, modern SSRIs and talk therapy represent the most successful treatment plan for depressed patients. But the success rate is never 100 percent. Furthermore, it can take time for both therapy and the medication to work.

What Are Antidepressants?

There are half a dozen different subtypes of SSRI and well over a dozen branded and generic SSRI drugs. Each of these compounds reacts in different patients differently, with varied potential side effects and side effect severity. Some people react the least to citalopram, while others are better off on sertraline.

When a patient takes a recommended SSRI, it can take multiple weeks for the drug to begin taking effect. If side effects show up and they inhibit a patient’s life, it can take several more weeks for the drug to be completely flushed out before a different compound is used.

SSRIs are not addictive nor particularly dangerous. The side effects can be frustrating – such as weight gain, loss of sex drive, and drowsiness – but SSRIs are very, very rarely associated with serious risks, such as rare cases of increased suicidality or heart arrhythmia. Nevertheless, it can take a few different tries until a patient finds a drug that works best for them.

If no SSRIs work well, a patient may consider different, older classes of antidepressants, such as SNRIstricyclic antidepressantsMAOIs, and atypical antidepressants. While these may work, they are usually associated with a higher risk of side effects.

Therapy for Depression

Talk therapy is not a drug and does not have conventional side effects. But as far as treatment methods go, there is no guarantee that a patient will respond well to individual therapy either. Some teens are very receptive, while others have a much harder time responding or opening up in therapy. Some teens do better in a group setting, while others prefer solely one-on-one therapy sessions. While CBT is the premier therapeutic treatment method, there are other valid forms of talk therapy for depression, including dialectic behavioral therapy, behavioral activation therapy, and interpersonal psychotherapy.

Even among first-line treatments – like antidepressants and therapy – it’s hard to say which is better. Furthermore, it’s hard to say which is best for your teen. SSRIs and CBT are the most studied treatment methods, but that does not mean you or your teen won’t respond better to older drugs and a completely different therapy plan.

Are Antidepressants Better Than Placebo?

The research on antidepressants can be confusing. There are studies supporting the continued use of antidepressants in the treatment of depression. There are also conflicting review papers that find that antidepressants match placebo at best and that serotonin availability may not be a factor in depressive symptoms.

One particularly polarizing review involved a thorough analysis of the evidence behind the serotonin theory of depression, one of the cornerstones of antidepressant use. It found that there is no consistent evidence nor support for the hypothesis that depression is caused by lowered serotonin activity based on current research.

Furthermore, the criteria for inclusion in a phase III trial for an antidepressant do not necessarily reflect the reality of the majority of people who are prescribed antidepressants. Many people who take antidepressants would not actually be included in a clinical trial for the drug they are taking.

The rabbit hole of research on the efficacy of depression treatments goes deep. Here are some interesting things research can tell us:

  • Mindset matters a lot. A patient’s receptiveness to both therapy and antidepressant drugs can be highly indicative of their success.
  • Antidepressants need more research. The link between depression and serotonin availability is not clear, and what we do know tells us that medication on its own is not often a useful therapeutic tool.
  • Patients differ wildly. Depression is a condition with many comorbid conditions, all of which can modify and exacerbate depressive symptoms. Teens with depression often also struggle with anxiety, with chronic health issues like asthma and irritable bowel syndrome, or may have a history of drug use. Treatment plans must be highly individualized to help patients.

Depression Medication for Teens or Therapy: Which is Best?

Based on what we currently know, the best available answer is both, although therapy may be more important than medication.

While the serotonin theory of depression may not hold up in the long term, antidepressants seem to work – even if their mechanism of action is not completely understood. What we can agree on is that medication use must occur alongside therapy for the best effect.

Furthermore, not all teens will respond effectively to medication and therapy. Some teens need a different treatment approach or need a treatment plan that takes other factors into consideration, including comorbid mental and physical health conditions.

What About Treatment-Resistant Depression Options?

There are other treatments for depression than just antidepressants and therapy. However, the jury is often still out on these treatments. They include ketamine (a controversial dissociative anesthetic drug), electroconvulsive therapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Despite being one of the most common mental health conditions on the planet, depression is not completely understood. In any given case, careful consideration of all factors is needed, and treatment must be individualized. More importantly, therapy nearly always plays an important role in depression treatment.

Get Depression Treatment for Teens

Are you or your teen struggling with depression? Reach out to Visions Treatment Center to explore depression treatment for teens today.

Mental Health Parenting Therapy

Can a Teenager Refuse Mental Health Treatment?

Can a teenager refuse mental health treatment?

It’s an important question many parents ask themselves when faced with a teen who refuses to get help for their worsening mental health symptoms. The answer is that it depends. For the most part, minors cannot refuse care – but some states do insist that mental healthcare providers need a minor’s consent to continue treatment. And most therapists and psychiatrists will not work with a teen if they are not interested in seeking help, unless their care has been court-appointed.

If your teen is an adult – meaning, 18 or older – then there’s nothing you can do to force them to seek treatment. The most you can do with a teen under the age of 18 is force them to show up to the therapist’s office – but without their consent and willing participation, the whole exercise can feel a little pointless. And remember, depending on the state you live in, you may not be able to force your teen into any kind of mental health treatment without their consent.

An inpatient program can help, a little bit. You can make your minor go to rehab, but it’ll likely damage your relationship with them if it isn’t something they ever agreed to, and it can take a lot of time for them to begin opening up to the lessons they will potentially learn while in recovery. This can be a very expensive mistake.

What Should I Do If a Teen Refuses Treatment?

Depending on your teen’s condition, they may be interned in a psychiatric hospital or may be forced to go to rehab against their will. Psychiatric hospitalization is a short-term treatment plan utilized in cases where people suffer from an acute episode of self-harm, suicide, psychosis, or other mental health conditions that cause harm to themselves or others around them.

After psychiatric hospitalization, a person is often referred to an inpatient program or an intensive outpatient program, such as a partial hospitalization program, to transition back to living at home. All in all, it can take multiple weeks for them to return home and feel better.

In some cases, a court might force someone to go into rehab for their condition. Court-mandated or court-ordered rehab is only imposed in cases where people committed a crime in connection to their drug use. If your teen went on a drinking spree and drove drunk, endangering others, they may choose to go to rehab instead of facing jail time.

But if you’re aware of your teen’s condition and its worsening symptoms, you will want to fight as hard as you can to make sure it doesn’t have to come to that. You can work with a therapist to convince your teen that getting help is the best thing for them to do right now.

Should I Even Force Mental Health Treatment on My Teen?

It’s rare for your only option to be to force your teen into treatment, whether it’s a therapist’s office or an inpatient facility for drug use. You may still have options in between.

The most obvious downside to seeking forced treatment is that your teen doesn’t want it. This means they won’t be receptive to treatment. They won’t trust their treatment providers, be dismissive towards therapists and other treatment specialists and professionals, and have a harder time benefiting from treatment in any possible way.

It’s hard enough as it is to successfully seek help for conditions like teen depressiondrug addiction, and teenage anxiety and come out the other end with improved symptoms and a better quality of life. It’s much harder when you start off vehemently against the idea of getting help. However, you may have other options.

Talking to a Professional About Interventions

Interventions are basically confrontations between loved ones or family members with the goal of convincing the target person to seek the help they need. Interventions might feel famously cliché, but when done right, they can break through to a person and make them realize that getting treatment really is the best thing for them and what they need to do right now.

Teens may be becoming adults, but they’re still ultimately children, and they may be your children. Mental health symptoms can be scary and make the world a more terrifying place to be in. Seeking help might be something they’ve been conditioned to avoid or not accept, and helping them remember or learn that it’s okay to be helped can open them up to finally seeking care.

It’s important to talk from the heart here, but it’s also important to stick to the framework your therapist provides. It’s easy for interventions to break down into arguments, and that will not be conducive to your goal.

Try To “Sell” Your Teen on Mental Health Treatment

Your teen might have all manner of misconceptions about what treatment really means. Maybe they’re worried about having to take medications and being forced to endure all manner of side effects. Maybe they’ve heard horror stories about bad therapists and poor experiences in rehab centers. It’s important to talk to them about their treatment expectations and find out what it is they’re specifically worried about.

Most teens who struggle with anxiety or depression to a debilitating degree are aware of the fact that they’re different and that they might have trouble with things other people don’t.

Talk to your teen about treatment and what it might mean for them. If your teen feels like committing to treatment ignores all the problems they’re facing at home, consider making a commitment for them. Talk to a therapist about family therapy or group therapy. Take notes and apply what you learn in therapy at home together.

However, some conditions are harder to seek care for. For teens with schizophrenia, it might be hard to convince them to get help if they’re currently experiencing a psychotic break or have been more paranoid than usual.

Some personality disorders also feature paranoia as a primary symptom, which can make it harder to get treatment. Other conditions, like narcissistic personality disorder, may become violent or irritable if you imply that they need help. It may be in your best interest to talk to a therapist about approaching your teen with these conditions.

Commit To Mental Wellness at Home Together

One of the reasons group therapy is helpful to many people is because it helps remind them that they are not alone, and that they are not the only people who need help, or who are getting help. It also allows people to forge new friendships with others who have shared their experiences and have a unique insight into what it might be like to live with certain conditions.

If you and your teen both similarly struggle with certain symptoms, getting help together can not only improve your mental health but strengthen your bond as parent and child.

It’s not easy to convince someone who doesn’t think they need help that they should reach out for it. But if you reach out together, it might feel a little easier.

Mental Health Therapy

Is Online Therapy for Teens Effective?

Online therapy, whether it be for teens, children, or adults, is used to describe any professional treatment plan applied remotely through a credentialled teletherapy program. While online and phone-based therapy programs have been available for years, they have become much more popular with the advent of voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) technologies, cheap/free videoconferencing tools, and online chat rooms. But, specifically speaking, how does online therapy for teens work? And is it effective?

Credentialed and licensed professional therapists can offer online therapy sessions to clients via safe and secure networks on websites, over the phone, or through special apps. While certain forms of teletherapy are relatively novel, the treatment process itself – remote, voice-based, or video therapy sessions – is heavily researched. Current studies show that teletherapy is not just effective but can be just as effective as face-to-face therapy.

However, there are pros and cons, as well as security and privacy concerns. Online therapy can be an amazing alternative to face-to-face therapy for a number of different teens, including teens with agoraphobia, teens who are uncomfortable with their initial therapy sessions, teens who struggle with face-to-face communication and prefer text or chatting, and other cases.

But it’s important to do your research. Online vulnerabilities can result in a loss of privacy or the leak of private information. It is important to seek out an online therapy service that prioritizes data protection, patient privacy, and is properly credentialed, in addition to providing an ethical and qualitative healthcare service as an experienced therapist.

Does Teletherapy Work?

We know that teletherapy works. However, whether it works equally for everyone is never a guarantee. Some patients respond better to teletherapy than face-to-face therapy sessions. Some patients are the opposite. In some cases, patients respond best to a treatment plan that begins with teletherapy and then segues into traditional therapy sessions. Figuring out a patient’s needs and making the necessary recommendations to alter their treatment is part of every therapist’s job description.

Online Therapy for Mental Health

Teletherapy has been implemented for the treatment of multiple psychological and physical conditions. Telehealth services, whether consulting a patient on at-home pain management techniques during a flare-up of chronic pain, to providing regularly scheduled therapy for depressive symptoms or symptoms of anxiety, have also grown and become more popular over time, including businesses utilizing the telehealth model such as BetterHelp and Talkspace.

Telehealth has become even more vital over the course of the COVID pandemic, as an alternative to traditional therapy, and a way for clients to continue to communicate with their therapist while maintaining safe social distancing practices.

Who Has Access to Teletherapy Services?

These practices have not been without controversy. Not all patients can adequately access teletherapy services due to a lack of personal technical knowledge. Some websites are not safe, not properly credentialed, or do not host professional staff. People who seek teletherapy services are often vulnerable and in need of immediate help. This makes them more likely to be affected by Internet scammers looking to steal private information.

Some problems are less obvious. BetterHelp, for example, landed itself in hot water recently for advertising itself as a matchmaking business between patients and healthcare professionals in YouTube influencer spots. However, the company’s own terms and conditions do not guarantee the help of a mental health professional, nor do they speak to the quality of their so-called “Counselors.”

If you are interested in making the most of a telehealth feature, be sure to utilize the services of a private practice, a mental health clinic, or a credentialed psychiatrist or therapist.

Be sure about the qualifications, experience, and reputation of the professional you wish to work with. Like any other therapy service, it is important that you feel comfortable and confident in your choice of therapist.

How Is Online Therapy for Teens Structured?

Online therapy programs differ from provider to provider. In general, non-public platforms are used to communicate with patients and provide specialized, one-on-one care. These include therapy-specific web platforms, as well as common teleconferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Zoom.

Online Therapy and Privacy

In the case of a general-purpose meeting software or business communications platform, passwords and individualized invite links are usually used to ensure privacy. Only platforms that are HIPAA-compliant may be used for telehealth services, including professional teletherapy. That means utilizing only platforms that have the minimum security and encryption standards needed to keep others from easily listening in on your therapy sessions.

Techniques in Online Therapy

Different forms of therapy have been proven effective over online therapy platforms, most importantly including cognitive behavioral therapy.

Your online therapy will be structured according to your needs. That might mean one session per week or as many as five or six weekly sessions. Sessions could be shorter or longer. Some therapists include the use of visual aids, such as PowerPoint presentations and infographics to help teach patients about different treatment techniques, coping mechanisms, and recovery skills. The number of online sessions you require will also differ depending on the severity of your condition, the nature of your diagnosis, and the professional opinions of your psychiatrist.

The First Online Session

Your first few sessions might feel a little awkward. Here are some important tips to make the most out of online therapy:

  • Use headphones. Not only does that keep your conversation private, but it can help keep out distracting noises.
  • Find a well-lit but quiet part of the house where you can start your therapy in private. A room with a lock and a window, for example.
  • If you are using your phone, try to get a tripod or phone stand. This way, your hand won’t get tired from holding the device, and you can use both hands for note-taking.
  • Consider getting a notebook to take notes for your therapy and continued recovery. Writing can be helpful in reviewing what you’ve written in the future, but it can also help to keep your therapy lessons fresh in mind.

Most qualified examples of online therapy utilize the professional services of a credentialed therapist. However, there are also therapy-like services offered by websites using trained chatbots or non-professional chatting companions. While some studies do show that teens have successfully used these programs and chatbots to help soothe emotional distress, they are far less effective than a professional service.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Therapy for Teens?

There are a few distinct advantages and potential disadvantages to utilizing online therapy for teens.

  • Online therapy is an effective alternative for teens in rural areas or where access to mental healthcare is limited.
  • Online therapy is especially helpful for teens who are immunocompromised or struggling with a different chronic health condition and might not want to risk infection.
  • Teletherapy services might be cheaper than an outpatient program while offering many of the same perks.
  • Online therapy might feel more comfortable to you if you are anxious about visiting a therapist’s office or need to rely on someone else for transportation.
  • You may feel more comfortable with private online therapy and may be able to start seeking help without necessarily alerting your family.

However, there are also potential disadvantages to utilizing online therapy for teens.

  • Telehealth services, including teletherapy, are not always covered by insurance.
  • Some people benefit more greatly from face-to-face treatment. There are limitations to voice-only or screen-based therapy for certain people.
  • Online communication requires good verbal and text skills. Your teen might not be able to fully convey how they feel without body language, which can be frustrating.

Looking for Online Therapy for Teens?

Should you consider online therapy as an option for yourself or your teen? Under most circumstances, yes. If you or your loved one might feel more comfortable starting treatment through an online therapy program, then it is certainly an idea worth pursuing, and they can still transition into face-to-face therapy or an outpatient program in the future.

For more information about Visions Treatment Centers and online therapy for teens, get in contact with us today.

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