Are you having troubles with one of your teens? While it often feels like a problem that you’re enduring by yourself as you observe the “golden children” of other families, it’s important to know that you’re far from being alone. Countless teenagers struggle with a myriad of issues, even despite their parents’ very best efforts.
If your child is struggling, sometimes it’s necessary to reach for outside help. Counseling can be an effective remedy for teenagers, but it can be hard knowing where to start. When you choose a therapist, you’re putting a tremendous amount of trust in them. A great counselor can help your teen to make leaps and bounds in their recovery, while the wrong one can often make things worse. It’s a delicate and important choice, so it’s prudent to know what to look for.
As experienced counselors in Provo, we can help. Here are some questions to ask when you’re looking for a good therapist.
Do They Specialize in Teenagers?
There are two ways you can easily go wrong with teens: treating them like children, and treating them like adults. When you treat a teenager like a kid, you don’t give credit to their life experience and they will feel like you’re delegitimizing their problems. They will feel like you don’t respect them or understand their point of view. Meanwhile, if you see them as miniature versions of adults, you’ll fundamentally misunderstand their way of thinking, even if you have the best intentions.
The reality is that teenagers should be treated like teenagers. This is a unique age where many of their problems are due in part to their developing body and mind. Because they are not fully-grown, teenagers see the world similarly to adults, but often without the greater perspective and long-term thinking that helps grown-ups shoulder responsibilities. On the other hand, they’re not at all like a young child. In the teenage years, adolescent minds are often sophisticated and intelligent enough to stand toe-to-toe with adults. Countless historical figures have had groundbreaking achievements under their belt well before adulthood.
This is why you need somebody who understands the unique position of teenagers. As a parent, you probably know how maddening it can be to try to connect with them, despite the fact that you were once a teenager yourself. Their views, opinions, and habits are largely influenced by the world around them, and since the world changes so drastically between generations, your experience could be a far cry from theirs. You need someone who is “plugged in” to the teenage world, who has years of experience cultivating relationships and understanding their unique problems.
Are They Well-Versed In Your Teen’s Specific Problem?
While it’s a great start to search for someone who specializes in teens, you’ll benefit from narrowing down your search even more — does the therapist or counselor have experience dealing in the very specific problem that your teen is going through?
In most occasions, the answer is “yes,” because once you’ve counseled enough teenagers, you’re pretty much seen it all. However, there’s a difference between counselors who have dealt with your teen’s problem once, and counselors who have practically made it their specialty.
You need look no further than Kaizen Academy for an apt example. At our residential treatment center in Provo, we put special emphasis on sexual behavior problems in teenage boys. This includes matters such as unsavory sexual habits and pornography addiction. This is a very unique focus, but highly effective for the teens that fall under it. Why? Because in years of experience, we’ve been able to intensely study and put into practice the best solutions for this specific niche.
Of course, it’s never quite as simple as teenagers having just one area of struggle, so even though we have a clear focus, we also have experience treating related problems. For example, many of our teens at Kaizen cope with depression; this is a condition that can be caused by, or exacerbated by their sexual struggles. While we recommend seeking out a specialist, always keep in mind that they’re not singularly limited to treating one kind of problem.
Do They Have a Good Reputation?
Naturally, you don’t want to bring your teen to a counselor or therapist if they’re terrible at their job. In your search, you should make an honest attempt to learn about their reputation, both through online testimonials and word-of-mouth. This isn’t always easy, and it’s not always 100% accurate, but it can be very telling.
It’s kind of like movie ratings online — if most of the critics are saying it’s a slog that’s not worth your time, there’s probably truth to that. Meanwhile, it most of them are giving it incredible praise, that’s a pretty good indicator. It is true that some great movies get undervalued by critics, while some stinkers end up getting more praise than they deserve. But in most cases, the majority opinion is usually a pretty good indicator.
It’s the same with professional services — seek out the ones that have positive buzz. But in doing so, do your best to verify if their reputation is authentic. Some businesses and professionals have fake reviews, and it’s also impossible for one disgruntled individual to “review bomb” a business with fake reviews if they had a bad experience. So do your research, but do it well, and seek out real testimonies from verified individuals.
Have You Gotten to Know Them?
It’s one thing to look up a counselor online, learn their credentials, read reviews, and so on, but one of the most important steps is meeting them yourself. Sometimes you just have a “feel” for people, and you should make sure that you’re getting good vibes from the person that will potentially be working with your teenager.
Even if it sometimes feels like your teen is a total alien, the bottom line is that you still know them better than arguably anyone else. You may not be able to perfectly understand what’s going on in their head, but it’s likely that you’ll be able to tell if someone would “click” for them or not. Even the most renowned, celebrated therapist in the region could be an abysmal fit for your teen if there’s a complete personality mismatch.
When in doubt, trust your instincts on this one. But at the same time, know that personal inclinations aren’t the end-all deciding factor. If you have a good feeling about a therapist but they’re showing red flags in every other category, perhaps it’s best to keep looking.
How Does Your Teenager Feel?
Finally, the most important consideration of all: how does your teen feel about their prospective therapist? You don’t necessarily need to drag them to every single one you meet with during your search, but once you’ve narrowed down your options to a few serious candidates, you’ll want to get feedback from your child.
This, of course, can be a difficult process, especially if your teen is resistant to treatment in the first place. You don’t want to drag them kicking and screaming, or they might resent the whole process altogether. Meanwhile, you can’t just ignore it.
In a best-case scenario, your teen should be well aware of the prospect of treatment, and meeting a therapist should come as no surprise to them. If you’ve talked about it constructively and made efforts to get your teen on board, this whole process will be much easier. And, quite often, meeting the right therapist can be the much-needed catalyst that makes them optimistic about the whole thing.
Therapy and Counseling for Teenagers at Kaizen Academy
If you’re in Provo, American Fork, or other surrounding regions in the Greater Salt Lake area, we encourage you to give Kaizen Academy a call if you have a teenage boy who struggles with sexual behavioral problems. Our residential treatment center has helped countless boys to recovery. The situation might seem desperate or even hopeless, but this is never true — there is always a path to recovery and healing.
At Kaizen Academy, we’ll help your teen find that path through a comprehensive program that implements a variety of healthy treatment methods. In addition to therapy, your teen will find friendship, develop skills, pursue hobbies, and experience peace through recreational outdoor adventures.
There is hope. There is healing. Are you interested in exploring Kaizen Academy? Getting started is easy — all you need to do is contact us today.