Therapy for Academic, Social & Personal Success

counselor advising high school student

Teenagers Are Vulnerable

Teenagers are at a vulnerable point in their lives. Identities are being formed, boundaries are pushed, and new social expectations and pressures are imposed. Teenagers are expected to navigate academics, budding social lives with changing rules, jobs, and more choices and independence than they ever had before. With all of these expectations, teens and adolescents can easily feel overwhelmed. Teenagers often face mental health conditions, like depression or anxiety, which can impair their quality of life and their ability to progress in all avenues of personal development. Therapy can prove essential in addressing these issues and giving teens the tools they need to move forward to adulthood and succeed.

When Is Therapy Necessary?

Most teens experience emotional issues at some point during this tumultuous period of their development to varying degrees. Emotional upsets are inevitable while these adolescents are figuring themselves out, dipping a toe into dating and relationships, and experiencing massive changes in their lives. Strong emotions can be the norm rather than the exception. There may be times when teens need help in addressing emotional roadblocks if they are persistent, extreme, or otherwise disruptive to daily life.

Therapy is helpful for teenagers in many situations. Numerous forms of therapy are useful in treating chronic mental health issues, like anxiety or depression. Teenagers experience these sorts of mental health disorders at shockingly common rates. A 2018 PEW survey found that as many as 70% of teenagers felt that anxiety and depression were major problems among their peers. These conditions can have impacts on every facet of a teenager’s life, from their personal happiness to their academic performance and social outcomes. Therapy can provide a way to discover the root causes of feelings of depression and anxiety, whether situational or chemical, and help teens develop positive coping mechanisms and new behaviors which help them manage these conditions.

Many teenagers’ academic problems stem from deep-seated perceptions about their abilities to succeed. Depression, anxiety, and similar mental health conditions have been shown to worsen academic performance. Therapy or academic counseling can be vital in helping teens address such self-defeating attitudes while they find learning strategies that work for them. Therapy also helps teens manage common stresses and issues that arise in schooling, such as test anxiety. By addressing both academic-specific issues and any underlying emotional problems, teenagers can grow their confidence and learn healthier ways of managing stress and future challenges in school and elsewhere.

Therapy can also address the root causes of behavioral issues that teenagers may exhibit. Many teenagers act out because of underlying emotional issues or mental health struggles. A good therapist can help teens work through these challenges, teaching them more productive ways to cope with difficult feelings while expressing themselves in a healthy and positive way.

Contrary to popular belief, one need not have a diagnosed mental illness to benefit from therapy. Teens may go into therapy for specific emotional issues, but it can also help them find healthier ways to face the sorts of daily problems that everyone faces. With the development of a better self-image and more stable emotional reactions to problems, teenagers are able to make better decisions and find their ways to success in more avenues of life.  

What Happens In a Therapy Session?

The course of a given therapy session depends on the kind of therapy being administered. Cognitive behavioral therapy might involve a back-and-forth discussion of common issues for a teenager, with a focus on getting to the negative thoughts, self-doubts, and beliefs that fuel feelings of anxiety or inadequacy. A therapist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy might work with the teen on questioning some of these beliefs, identifying their faulty assumptions, and replacing them with more realistic and more productive ideas going forward.

Group therapy, with the involvement of parents, family, or fellow students in some academic settings, is another common form of counseling which can address specific relationship issues or help give teens a sense of support and solidarity. In academic settings, such as a therapeutic boarding school, counseling for emotional issues and stress may also include goal-setting in academics and other areas of personal development. Counselors coordinate with parents to monitor their child’s progress and to discuss new strategies for helping the child succeed in their academic, emotional, and social lives. Counselors in these settings may also coordinate with teachers to best fit the needs of a given student.

Therapy in Conjunction With Other Treatment Modalities

Therapy is most often successful when it is reinforced with a healthy lifestyle, as well as other treatment modalities, when necessary. A nutritious diet, regular exercise, and self-care habits, like relaxing with music or meditating, can go a long way in helping teens manage stress and make emotional progress. Therapy also encourages the development of these kinds of positive changes. Medication for chronic mental health conditions may also be appropriate in some instances, as prescribed by a mental health professional. Finally, a supportive environment at home or at school can help teenagers feel safe and encouraged to do their best.

Counseling and Academic Support at a Therapeutic Boarding School

For some teenagers, a therapeutic boarding school may offer the best environment for personal growth. These can be an especially good fit for teenagers who experience academic issues alongside other mental health struggles, as they are designed to provide structure, support, and guidance in these areas. Staff at academic boarding schools are skilled in recognizing the ways that emotional issues impact academic performance and other important areas of a teenager’s life. They know how to address such issues, how to work on them with students and families, and how to provide a socially supportive environment.

No matter your teenager’s particular challenges, therapy can be a valuable tool in addressing them. Therapy is not a magic cure-all. It requires work and commitment that a teenager may be reluctant to put in at first. Parents should stay flexible, be willing to work to find a good counselor or therapist for their child, and take an active role in supporting their teen as they face these issues head-on.

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