Children and adolescents build social skills and emotional intelligence as they grow. These things often lead to healthy, happy lives. But some kids have emotions or behave in ways that disrupt their well-being.
Adolescent therapy involves therapeutic conversations and interactions between a therapist and a child or family. It can help children and families understand and resolve problems, modify behavior, and make positive changes in their lives. There are several types of psychotherapy (talk therapy) that involve different approaches, techniques, and interventions. At times, a combination of different approaches may be helpful.
Different types of adolescent therapy:
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) helps improve a child's moods, anxiety, and behavior by examining confused or distorted patterns of thinking. CBT therapists teach children that thoughts cause feelings and moods which can influence behavior. During CBT, a child learns to identify harmful thought patterns. The therapist then helps the child replace this thinking with thoughts that result in more appropriate feelings and behaviors. Research shows that CBT can be effective in treating a variety of conditions, including depression and anxiety. Specialized forms of CBT have also been developed to help children coping with traumatic experiences.
- Family Therapy focuses on helping the family function in more positive and constructive ways by exploring patterns of communication and providing support and education. Family therapy sessions can include the child or adolescent along with parents, siblings, and grandparents. Couples therapy is a specific type of family therapy that focuses on a couple's communication and interactions (e.g. parents having marital problems).
- Group Therapy is a form of psychotherapy where there are multiple patients led by one or more therapists. It uses the power of group dynamics and peer interactions to increase understanding of mental illness and/or improve social skills. There are many different types of group therapy (e.g. psychodynamic, social skills, substance abuse, multi-family, parent support, etc.).
- Play Therapy involves the use of toys, blocks, dolls, puppets, drawings, and games to help the child recognize, identify, and verbalize feelings. The psychotherapist observes how the child uses play materials and identifies themes or patterns to understand the child's problems. Through a combination of talk and play the child has an opportunity to better understand and manage their conflicts, feelings, and behavior.
Therapy is not a quick fix or an easy answer. It is a complex and rich process that, over time, can reduce symptoms, provide insight, and improve a child or adolescent's functioning and quality of life.
-American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry