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  • Therapy for Teens

    Does Your Teen Struggle With Intrusive Thoughts?

    • Have you become increasingly concerned about your teen’s mental health or behavior?
    • Do you worry they may be exhibiting the symptoms of anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
    • Are you looking for specialized therapy for your teen that can help them identify healthier coping skills and improve how they react to stress?

    While it’s clear that teens these days are under increasing pressure to succeed, perhaps you’ve noticed your child is experiencing particular difficulty keeping up. They may seem overly anxious or prone to tears. A change in their typical habits—such as missing school for the first time, markedly lower academic performance, withdrawal from friends, avoiding things they’ve grown to fear, or losing interest in the activities and hobbies they once enjoyed—could signal a problem.

    Your Teen May Be Displaying The Signs Of OCD Or Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs)

    When your teen is under stress, you may observe them engaging in repeated or excessive behaviors, like hand washing, checking, or other arbitrary actions you can’t make sense of. They may complain about the looping thoughts that compel them to do these things, even when they try to resist the impulse. Or maybe your child repeatedly requests your assurance, asking questions like, “I’m a good person, right? I would never do something bad, would I?” In other instances, they might display tics or BFRBs, like hair pulling or skin picking, seemingly without the awareness or self-control to stop.

    As their parent, you want your child to get through adolescence with the self-esteem, resilience, insight, and skills to cope with life’s stressors. Fortunately, treatment at CBT SoCal can provide your teen with the support and education they need to manage anxiety and control OCD thoughts and behaviors. 

    Teens Are Facing New Challenges That Didn’t Exist In Previous Generations

    The World Health Organization reports that “3-4 percent of all teens worldwide are dealing with anxiety, and 2-3 percent are also struggling with ADHD.” [1] According to the International OCD Foundation, “Approximately three million kids and teens in the U.S. are suffering from OCD at any given time.” [2]

    Teens today have to deal with issues that previous generations didn’t have to worry about. They’re challenged to navigate an ever-evolving societal dependence on technology and develop a healthy relationship with phones and social media, all while facing increased pressure to maintain their grades and achieve high test scores in the pursuit of higher education. In addition to academics, many teens are also exposed to the fiercely competitive environments of athletics or performing arts, which can raise their stress levels even higher.

    Our teens are also growing up in a time when the cost of living and job market make the idea of financial independence seem increasingly unattainable. These conditions can lead to feelings of hopelessness about school and career options, making teens wonder what’s the point of trying.

    For The Younger Generation, The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health Is Lifting

    Fortunately, today’s teens have more awareness of mental health issues than any generation before them, making them more comfortable with the idea of therapy. Many teens realize that even with a supportive family environment, receiving help from someone other than a parent can be beneficial.

    We understand how much stress dealing with unwanted thoughts and behaviors can create for your teen’s academic, social, and family life. The good news is that therapy for teens that addresses issues such as anxiety, OCD, ADHD, and Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) is CBT SoCal’s specialty. 

    Therapy Empowers Your Teen To Develop Skills For Coping with Anxiety

    As a parent of a teen, it’s natural to be concerned about this critical period of development. You want to ensure they transition into young adulthood with a sense of self-confidence and well-being. At CBT SoCal, we partner with teens to help them break habits and patterns that no longer work for them and develop more effective ways to solve their own problems.

    If your teen is struggling with anxiety or OCD, we will help identify how and why they get stuck, and educate them about the most effective treatments available to address their issues. For parents, we explain how accommodating OCD behaviors can fan the flames of the disorder and offer alternate strategies to support your child when they’re in distress.

    What To Expect In Sessions

    Some themes we may cover in therapy for teens who are dealing with anxiety, OCD, or ADHD include:

    • Distinguishing clearly between reality and fear-based thoughts and equipping them with skills to manage unwanted thoughts and urges;
    • Developing mental tips and strategies for maintaining a growth—versus fixed—mindset;
    • Providing skills to communicate assertively and resolve conflict with peers and authority figures;
    • Coaching on time and task management to help balance schoolwork with extracurricular demands while ensuring adequate time is set aside for sleep;
    • Helping them break down big tasks—like college applications, term papers, and projects—and effectively budget their time; 
    • Brainstorming solutions to unhealthy habits your teen may have related to technology and social media.

    We enjoy helping teens identify their goals and values so they can develop self-esteem and a sense of identity as they navigate potential sources of anxiety. We may also discuss the challenges of academic pressure, navigating peer dynamics, social anxiety, and even bullies.

    We Offer Specialized Counseling For Teens With Anxiety, OCD, And ADHD

    Our main clinical specialty for teens is OCD and anxiety, with treatment drawn primarily from Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Exposure with Response Prevention therapy (ERP), and Inference Based CBT (ICBT). We also offer executive skills coaching to address ADHD.

    With ERP therapy, the counselor will work with your teen to help them confront the sources of their anxiety. Once they learn to identify the nature of intrusive thoughts, they will be equipped with skills to reduce rumination and rituals and develop healthier habits that keep them grounded and calm rather than being drawn into catastrophic thinking.

    Whereas ERP may focus more on external behaviors, ICBT observes the thought processes that get your teen stuck in rumination. Once they can identify the types of thoughts that become problematic, they will learn how to sidestep them so they won’t get stuck in anxiety or OCD loops.  We also draw from Habit Reversal Training (HRT) and Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) for teens who may be struggling with BFRBs or Tourette’s.

    Therapy and mental health coaching for you and your teen can be vital in assuring their successful launch into college and young adulthood. CBT can help them understand themselves and their unique challenges with more awareness, as well as develop the skills most helpful for individual growth.

    But Maybe You’re Not Sure If Therapy Is Right For Your Teen…

    How involved will I be in my teen’s therapy sessions?

    Parent input and support can be an incredibly valuable part of our work with your teen. As therapists, we try to balance your involvement in counseling with your teen’s development towards independence and responsibility for their own choices. As such, we will mutually decide with them what level and frequency of parent involvement will be most beneficial for them.

    Is there a set amount of counseling sessions required that ensures my teen will get what they need out of therapy?

    Some teens only require specific coaching on tools for addressing anxiety, time management, or tics, which can often be quicker or less frequent than other types of therapy. Other teens prefer ongoing therapy with their counselor for additional support outside of the home. Still, others prefer a balance of both general support and specific skill building. Either way, we are flexible and can see teens for a period of just 5-10 sessions or, if needed, maintain a longer-term therapy relationship.

    What can I do to persuade my teen to consider therapy?

    Fortunately, there is less stigma surrounding seeking therapy and treatment for teenage anxiety, depression, and OCD than there used to be. However, your teen may worry they can’t afford time away from schoolwork, sports, or friends for counseling. Before scheduling the first session, we are happy to engage with them directly to get more acquainted—this can often make them more comfortable proceeding. You can also let your teen know that we offer online therapy that can be scheduled with more flexibility.

    Help Your Teen Become The Best Version Of Themselves

    Getting your teen empowering support at this critical time can make a major difference in their long term growth and happiness. To find out more about therapy for teens with CBT SoCal, please call 818-547-2623 or visit our contact page.