Every teen faces challenges, whether they are at school, at home, or in their social life. Many normal challenges arise during this time of life. If you are noticing that your child is struggling, however, it is time to take action. Counseling can provide a safe space to explore confusing and distressing thoughts and emotions. Working with a therapist will help your teen to develop a toolkit of coping skills that they can apply in different areas of their life.
As you look into options, you will realize that there is a wide array of decisions to make. There are many types of therapists and treatment modalities, all with their own unique set of benefits. Depending on your teen’s needs and preferences, some therapists will be a better match than others. Additionally, you should decide whether counseling will be online or in-person. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks to be aware of.
While online counseling has been around for many years, it really stole the spotlight during the pandemic. Due to its convenience and accessibility, it is here to stay. You might have some trepidations about online counseling and its effectiveness, but you need not worry. Interventions like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are effective whether they are delivered online or in person. In addition to being effective, online counseling boasts many unique benefits.
Online counseling can be very convenient. It can be done anywhere with access to a device and the Internet. This is especially useful if you would have to spend a great deal of time simply getting to and from therapy. Your teen’s life is most likely very busy. Between school, sports, extracurriculars, homework, and spending time with friends, it can feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to spend on therapy. Online counseling can more easily fit into your teen’s schedule. Rather than having to take into account travel time, your teen can simply log on and log off with enough time to keep up with their schedule.
Online counseling also offers a sense of comfort and familiarity by allowing your teen to attend from anywhere. They can stay in their bed while speaking with a therapist. Many complicated emotions can arise during a therapy session, and the comfort of a safe space can help your teen ground themselves. For teens with social anxiety, this can make therapy more manageable.
While online therapy is effective, it might not be the right fit for everybody. Some people’s needs fit better with in-person counseling. Though it may follow the same modalities of therapy, the format allows for its own benefits solely based on the format.
With in-person counseling, a therapist can pick up on nonverbal cues while in the same room as your teen. A therapist can pick up a lot of information based on the way someone is holding their body during an interaction. This is a fundamental part of communication that can be lost as a result of the physical distance created by teletherapy. When you are viewing the top half of someone on a laptop screen, some nuances get missed.
Nonverbal communication is especially important in a therapist’s assessment of a situation. For example, being able to notice whether a client is avoiding eye contact or fidgeting in their seat while saying something is a helpful indicator of what is really going on. Signs of nervousness can tell the therapist to explore certain topics that the client would otherwise try to avoid. While it can be a relief to skate through therapy without discussing difficult topics, it would defeat the purpose of the process.
This disconnect may also impact the therapeutic relationship at times. While some therapists and clients will click with no issues during online counseling, other pairs may struggle. Recognizing nonverbal displays of discomfort or disengagement can help the therapist to adjust and change the tone of the session to better fit the client’s needs. Audiovisual problems can also crop up during the call and disrupt the normal flow of conversation. With how important rapport is in the therapy setting, it is crucial to avoid anything that will interfere with it.
Your teen is most likely looking at a screen all day. Schools are increasingly using technology to deliver lessons and assign homework. Additionally, much social interaction occurs through texting and social media. With all of this attention on screens, your teen may benefit from speaking with a therapist face-to-face. For some people, online counseling can feel like just another Zoom meeting to endure. This can lead to disengagement or boredom that prevents real progress from being made. Furthermore, the importance of social interaction cannot be overstated. Being able to see a therapist in-person can offer some of that human connection that is often lost in everyday life.
Lastly, attending therapy in person ensures a private space. If your teen is attending therapy on their computer in their room, they might worry that someone can hear them. Counseling is a deeply personal and vulnerable process, and privacy concerns can cause your teen to hold back. While you might wonder what happens in your teen’s therapy, they must have the space to discuss their thoughts and emotions without you there. In-person counseling provides clear boundaries and a sense of security.
If you are considering connecting your teen with a therapist, you are taking a strong step toward helping your child both now and in the future. Counseling can provide powerful tools that make life more manageable and fulfilling. Choosing a therapist entails many smaller decisions, including the format the counseling should take. Taking into account your teen’s needs and preferences, you can determine whether in-person or online counseling would be a better fit. Sage Recovery can offer both online and in-person counseling to help your teen during this time. Our adolescent IOP program also offers a variety of groups and programs to support overall wellness. You can call (512) 306-1394 to learn more today.