How can psychotherapy help adolescents?

Psychotherapy can address a wide range of problems and disorders that can occur in adolescents: alcohol and drug abuse, panic attacks, self-harm, dishonesty, obesity, thoughts of suicide, stress-related disorders, eating disorders.

Usually, children or adolescents rarely turn to psychotherapy voluntarily and are most often introduced to therapy by their parents, generally for behavioural disorders and school difficulties.

Therapy sessions can include the child or adolescent alongside parents, siblings, and grandparents.

Family therapy could be more efficient as it can focus on helping the whole family develop healthy and positive ways of communication while providing support and education.

The psychotherapeutic approach addresses a wide range of disorders and problems which children and adolescents are confronted with:

  • depression
  • sleep disorders
  • personality disorders
  • poor school performance
  • learning difficulties
  • school dropout
  • TV and internet addiction
  • tobacco, alcohol, and drug abuse or dependence
  • low self-esteem
  • suicidal thoughts
  • physical and verbal aggression, destruction of objects
  • anger and aggressive behaviour
  • negativity, dishonesty, theft
  • excessive shyness
  • inferiority complex

Common mental health issues in young people

Hyperactivity disorder in adolescence

ADHD symptoms can become obvious from the age of 4, but sometimes these symptoms do not become problematic until adolescence. Children may only experience school problems when tasks become more and more difficult – most often in high school.

There are two subtypes of ADHD – hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive. Hyperactive teenagers have difficulty standing still, cannot stop talking and struggle to complete a project. Adolescents with inattentive type lack focus and become easily distracted.

ADHD is often treated with both therapy and medication. Educating the parents can also be a vital part of a teenager’s treatment to help the family manage symptoms properly and healthily.

Eating disorders in adolescents

Eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and other specified feeding or eating disorders. Although eating disorders can occur in both boys and girls, girls tend to develop more often these types of disorders.

While anorexia is characterized by extreme food restrictions and weight loss, bulimia involves alcohol consumption and purging, either through vomiting or using laxatives.

Binge eating disorder involves consuming large amounts of food in one meal, without purging.

Eating disorders can have a serious impact on the adolescent’s physical health, and treatment often requires both physical health monitoring and intensive care.

What is pathological behaviour, and when should we be alarmed?

Along with the disorders above, adolescents may show pathological behaviours, due to the inability to cope with the situations they face. These can include:

  • injure themselves by cutting, burning, pulling their hair, etc.
  • vandalizing their own home or that of others
  • intentionally harming other people
  • developing an eating disorder (bulimia or anorexia), or being unable to reduce food intake and gaining weight
  • alcohol or drug abuse
  • engaging in risky and/or illegal behaviours, such as gambling, theft, deception, or sexual promiscuity
  • compulsive lying

Depression in adolescents

Depression in adolescents is quite common. About 8% of those between the ages of 12 and 17 have had a major depressive episode in the last year. Despite this percentage, depression in adolescents can be treatable.

About 50% of adolescents experiencing depression already believe that their symptoms have a serious impact on their social and/or school life. Symptoms of depression in adolescents include:

  • apathy
  • pain such as headache, back pain, stomach pain
  • chronic fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulties in making decisions
  • exaggerated feelings of guilt
  • irresponsible behaviour – forgetting what they promise, being late for school, etc.
  • loss of appetite or overeating – weight fluctuations

Any other behaviour that the family considers inappropriate and which lasts more than 6 weeks is a warning for the parents of a teenager. For example, a sociable teenager who likes to spend time with friends is suddenly becoming very withdrawn and lonely. In adolescence, a child can move away from his parents, whom he may consider far too different to provide understanding. His attention may turn to those of the same age.

When you notice that the teenager has moved away from the family and isolated himself from adults, it can be a sign of generalized stress. The adolescent may be facing social adaptation difficulties or depression.

Unresolved problems can negatively affect the adolescent for the rest of his life.

If you are concerned about your teenager’s behaviour, talk to a healthcare provider, or look for a specialist. Specialists can give you a new perspective and can offer you support on how to have a better relationship with your child.

Our online therapy platform can help you find a specialist in different areas of the UK, such as London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Scotland, and Wales.