You’ve noticed your teen has been struggling with [insert challenging behavior here], because you’re an epic parent. You’re not quite sure what to do since it feels like everything you’ve tried has been unsuccessful. You have heard other people say they’ve found success with therapy, both individual + group therapy. But how the heck do you figure out which one is going to have the deepest impact for maximum success?
1 // Does your teen seem to benefit more from hearing the stories of their peers?
Most teens don’t like to take advice from their parents. There are some teens who will listen to their parents, but even in those situations -- they don’t listen to every single thing you say. Come on you remember what it was like to be a teen-- your parents were old + weren’t up on the latest slang or didn’t have the “swag” of the century. So why would we think it would be much different with our teens? It’s no secret that our survival stories make us who we are, but there is something powerful about hearing the survival story of a peer! It makes even more of a different than a parent’s survival story.
2 // Does your teen struggle with expressing and regulating their emotions?
Are you unable to read their warning signs? Much of life’s conflict happens during teenage years, because your teen has reached a new level of independence. Just like when they were a toddler + you cheered them on for learning to crawl, walk or run - they need you to help cultivate a healthy level of independence. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with being independent, they just have to learn that boundaries still exist. If your teen struggles to regulate intense emotions, here are free worksheets to help you deescalate any situations.
3 // Do you want your teen to develop positive relationships with their peers?
Does your teen spend a lot of time alone? Do they find it challenging to maintain positive friendships? There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert or maintaining a small circle of friends. However, if you feel (or your teen has expressed it to you) that they have little to no meaningful connections - group therapy might be appropriate for them. Among several groups I run at the practice, we have a social skills group for helping teens learn to establish healthy, positive connections. This doesn’t come naturally to some people + that’s okay, because they still have a unique gift to offer.
4 // Is your teen ready to change transform their life?
One of the first things I assess as a Therapist is a teen’s commitment to therapy. As much as you the parent may want your teen to change, the motivation to change has to come from them. Many teens don’t want to come to group therapy (or individual therapy for that matter) initially. You might ask-- should I still bring my teen if they don’t want to do group? The answer is YES! At the end of my assessments, 98% of teens walk away wanting to join the group. Even if your teen is slightly motivated -- strike while the iron is hot!
5 // Does your teen help developing better communication skills?
Group therapy is great for learning healthy communication skills, because teens get to see social skills moduled by peers who are more advanced. They also get the chance to help their peers who may not be as advanced as they are. Using their skills empowers them + many teens who go through group report that giving of themselves is one of the most rewarding things about group.
As an epic parent, you’re the only one who knows the answer to these questions. Is your teen appropriate for group therapy? Do you have more questions about group therapy? I would love to help you out if you’re interested! Leave a comment below or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or ask your question in the Tribe Lounge! If you’re looking for a group to send your teen, we have groups running right here at From The Heart Counseling. If you’re further away from St. Charles, IL, I would recommend asking your teen’s doctor or school social worker (or maybe their therapist) for recommendations. Or you can look up local groups on Psychology Today!