Psychotherapy for Adolescents

The prevalence of mental health issues, especially anxiety and depression, among adolescents is undeniable. The impact of the mental health issues on social, emotional, cognitive, and academic aspects of teenagers is also indisputable. Early evidence-based treatment of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues in adolescents can prevent the long lasting impacts on development.

Adolescents who are struggling with anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, non suicidal self-harm, suicidal ideations, eating disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, ADHD, and trauma can benefit from seeing a psychotherapist.

If you are not certain whether psychotherapy is needed for you (or your teenager) you can consult with your pediatrician to find out of the right approach. You can also contact us for further information.

There are multiple ways to detect mental health problems in adolescence before they become a significant issue. The major signs of mental health issues like thoughts, behaviours, and emotions can appear in many areas of the adolescents’ life and have the potential to cause problems. Their appearance may take the form of hyperactive or conduct problems, or simple emotional conflict with themselves and/or peers. 

However, it is possible to detect these issues before they appear, by acknowledging the socioeconomic status of the adolescent and observing any stress they may experience on their mental health. Adolescence comprises of many quick and successive changes to a person’s life that burdens their mental health with stress, peer pressure, and drug abuse. Moreover, these changes can negatively impact adolescents and give them depression, anxiety, and worse. This is why maintaining their mental health is crucial during this period of their life because of the lasting consequences it can have on their future.

Mental health affects adolescents more than people would like to think. As they are soon approaching adulthood, any negative impact on their mental health can have consequences that extend into the rest of their lives. Moreover, their unstable sense of self requires structure in their lives that only proper mental health can achieve. Neglectful role models can inspire bad behaviours in their conduct or hyperactivity. Focus in school would only get hindered by anxious thoughts and insecure emotions. If these negative factors were allowed to accumulate in the adolescents’ life, it would not only affect their personal life but also their future potential. 

The person’s mental health experiencing all of the above can spiral into depression and negatively impact their relationship with their family, friends, and colleagues. Their academic and professional performance will suffer from a lack of communication, concentration, and connections. Ultimately, neglecting to care for their mental health can result in a myriad of unforeseen outcomes that can be mediated through intervention and therapy.

Adolescent mental health is important because at that stage of their lives they are struggling to find their identity in life. Confusion while forming their identity will only delay how they structure their sense of self and negatively affect their mental health. Additionally, they will struggle as they transition from school into the real world, and without proper care for their mental health, problems such as hyperactivity and conduct can develop into worse behaviour that will restrict their chances of success in the future. 

Moreover, failure to maintain proper mental health through adolescence will result in a lack of concentration that will lead to poor grades. Peers during school may judge the adolescent negatively as a result of poor academic achievement and will further limit their social success, academic success, and socioeconomic status. Furthermore, Society will stigmatize a struggling adolescent as a juvenile delinquent if they become neglected by everyone, they will ignore their mental health and embrace bad conduct. 

Developing mental health in adolescence takes constant practice to create a sense of structure in their hectic lives. Most importantly, activities that provide relaxation and purpose should be offered to the adolescent so they can actualize their negative behaviours, thoughts, and emotions into positive changes for themselves and society. Volunteer programs can introduce the adolescent to people with like-minded interests and provide a net positive to their community. Furthermore, there’s also the healing process of therapy that always benefits the development of someone’s mental health. Overall, there are plenty of activities that may introduce balance and structure into their disorganized life, and their mental health will benefit from the activity that they find the most fulfilling.

If teenagers anxiously questioned everything in their life, over time, it would become unmotivating and an obstacle to their mental health. First, we must understand what is causing this lack of motivation and what is the goal the teenager wishes to achieve but cannot, due to their anxiety. Ultimately, every personality is more responsive to a particular goal, whether it’s intrinsically motivated with good intent, or extrinsically motivated with rewards. However, there are moments where anxiety can become an obstacle and they may require assistance through programs that reduce anxiety to surpass these negative feelings. In order to regain their motivation and become self-actualized they need to clearly identify their goal, work toward their goal, and finally achieve the goal.

The process of goal-oriented behaviour is a great motivational tool that can be adjusted to anyone’s needs. By setting a small sequence of tasks in order to work toward their goal, they can become more motivated with each additional step. This will eventually motivate the teenager until they achieve their goal and feel accomplished enough that their anxiety is not a problem anymore. Furthermore, through even the smallest of actions anyone can work toward their motivational goals and maintain their positive mental health.

Everyone responds to psychotherapy differently, especially if they have a resistant or defiant personality. For instance teenagers prepare themselves to enter a society that expects them to be responsible, but there will always be those moments when they attempt to test the rules and/or break them. Afterall, this stage in their life is when they’re developing their personality, and they have to decide whether they want to conform to society or create an identity that is unique to them.

This crucial period in their adolescent development will cause the experimenting teenager to feel anxious and act out on occasion. These erratic behaviours can become a detriment to their mental health and could spiral into further problems if the adolescent doesn’t have proper guidance from family, friends, or role-models. However, this can be resolved through therapy as the teenager enters a safe space to express themselves in front of a professional in order to overcome their anxieties and create a social-structure that is beneficial to their mental health.

The importance of disciplining rebellious behaviour is just as important as rewarding good behaviour, and one should attempt to find a balance between both when raising a child. Moreover, it is important to realize that children view the world differently than adults and may react differently when they are learning and maturing. Their misbehaviour may be the result of them growing up and realizing that they must follow different rules. The best thing a parent could do in this situation is provide their child with a social-structure of family and friends that can help direct them achieve positive growth.

The most prominent effect of psychotherapy is the ability to gain a new perspective on life which can majorly improve your self-confidence. Through the prosocial and proactive use of therapy, teenagers can express themselves safely as they work toward overcoming their interpersonal issues. Moreover, their mental health will benefit from therapy sessions as they reflect over each issue in their life and become able to gain a new outlook on life. This outlook can give them an improved self-confidence and reassurance that they are doing the best that they can.

The best way to maintain a positive self-image in teenagers is through engaging and motivating activities. Psychotherapy can help the teenager regain a sense of purpose and work toward strengthening their mental health. Through dedicated sessions reinforcing their best qualities and working toward certain goals, the self-reflection of the teenager will become superior than before. This structured and balanced approach to finding meaning in their life can help them become proactively engaged in pursuing further excellence.

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Fitzsimons, E., Goodman, A., Kelly, E., & Smith, J. P. (2017). Poverty dynamics and parental mental health: Determinants of childhood mental health in the UK. Social Science & Medicine, 175, 43-51.

Delaney, L., & Smith, J. P. (2012). Childhood health: trends and consequences over the life-course. The Future of Children/Center for the Future of Children, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, 22(1), 43.

Buizza, C., Cela, H., Costa, A., & Ghilardi, A. (2021). Coping strategies and mental health in a sample of students accessing a university counselling service. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 22(3), 658–666. DOI: 10.1002/capr.12519

  • Engage in coping strategies to reduce anxiety
  • Social support structures
  • Attending “coping courses” to reduce stress (programs to seek positive change)
  • Blaming yourself diminishes your confidence and has negative implications toward your mental health

Hudig, J., Scheepers, Ad W., A., Schippers, M., C., & Smeets, G. (2022). Motivational mindsets, mindset churn and academic performance: The role of a goal-setting intervention and purpose of Life. Current Psychology, 1 , 1–20. DOI:

Regev, D. (2022). A process-outcome study of school-based art therapy. International Journal of Art Therapy, 27(1), 17–25. DOI:

  • Differences of psychotherapy from children to adults
  • Self-confidence and interpersonal skills