Relationship Counselling for Teens – When to Consider It

Anyone who lives with teenagers understands that emotions often run wild and drama follows suit. The reason why this phase of life is so challenging has to do with the neuroscience of a teenager’s brain. During the teenage years, the parts of the brain that dictate emotions and impulse control (along with rational decision-making) develop at different times. Unlike an adult with a fully developed brain, teenagers often experience difficulty with processing feelings, expressing what they are going through, and thinking about consequences before reacting. This, coupled with the hormonal, physical, and social changes they might also be experiencing means that it can be an extremely trying time for many teens.

While all of the above is absolutely normal, one might ask the question about when it may be time to consider counselling for your teen. Relationship counselling greatly benefits teenagers because it gives them the life skills needed to navigate the complexities within relationships. Whether with family, friends, or romantic interests, many teens need some assistance with the formation and maintenance of important relationships (as do many adults). If you feel that the pre-adolescent child or teenager in your home might be in need of relationship counselling, have a look at some of the signs to look out for.


Mood Swings and Reactive Behaviour

As mentioned above, dealing with mood swings is a normal aspect of living with a teenager, but they can sometimes disrupt the healthy functioning of the family unit. If your teenager rapidly switches between moods such as happiness, anger, sadness, and fear for seemingly no reason at all, it may be time to think about therapy.


Anxiety and Self-Esteem

The teenage years are the opportune time to explore one’s identity, likes, dislikes, and personality. While anxiety during this testy period is typical, some teenagers find it too debilitating to cope with life. Anxiety at this age can stem from many things, such as school performance (and sometimes learning difficulties), making friends, issues with appearance, and even trauma.


Unhealthy Stress

Stress is sometimes useful – it can drive us to improve our performance. But, unhealthy levels of stress can damage our bodies and cripple us with worry. Exams and extracurricular activities might pile pressure onto teens that they are not yet ready to deal with, which is where counselling comes in.


Issues with Difficult Behaviour

Substance abuse, stealing, fighting, and bunking school are all symptoms of a more significant problem. Relationship counselling allows teens to explore the root of their unhappiness and how to mend the relationships around them that they may find to be broken.

Parents who struggle to connect with their teens might also find relief in attending family counselling where the whole family can explore the dynamics behind their relationships. If you feel that your teenager or pre-adolescent child might benefit from therapy, why not make an appointment with Dr Tienie Maritz? With a PhD in psychology, Dr Tienie Maritz has helped thousands of people for over 24 years and is registered as a Counselling and Educational Psychologist at the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

A message from Dr Tienie Maritz

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