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Therapy for Teenagers

Teen Counseling in San Rafael, CA

As adults, we all know that the transitions that happen in adolescence are never without some complications.  The teen brain is rapidly growing, allowing for more complex thought as well as more complex emotions.  Adolescents are faced with shifting social norms, values, family stressors, school pressures, peer influences, responsibilities, and hormones.  Truly, this can be an exciting time of growth as well as a frustrating and overwhelming time for both the teenager and the parent(s).  These teen years have the potential to be a rich and fulfilling period, and can also be very difficult with higher rates of anxiety, depression, destructive behavior, and suicidal thoughts.  Whether you are raising your teen as a single person, couple, or blended family, there may be times when you need guidance in better understanding your child and the disruptive behaviors, in building a deeper connection with your teenager, and in finding the right tools to heighten your teen’s and your strengths, shift unhealthy thinking, and decrease and stop your child’s negative behavior.  

Growing up today in our affluent area, your teenager has the added pressure to achieve, be “perfect” and avoid failure in a world of 24-hour social media where it can seem to teens that the world is always watching and that they are somehow coming up short.  Some adolescents respond to this pressure with constant worry that they must be the best at everything or they are “nothing”.  Other teens respond by giving up, with the idea that it is better not to try at all, than to try and fail.  Your adolescent needs to know that the happy and healthy version of her/him is the goal and not some unrealistic, social-media driven sense of perfection.


How Teen Therapy Works

We begin our therapeutic work with teens by first meeting with you, the parent(s), as we believe that you have a significant and special relationship with your child and your perspective of your teenager and the presenting problems is important to understand.  By listening to your family story and the significant experiences that may have contributed or created the current situation we can make clinical recommendations and outline the best treatment for your teenager and family. 


Additionally, it is important that your teen feels that we are the right therapist for her/him.  When a teen is unsure, we encourage her/him to meet with another therapist or two to help with that decision.  Some teenagers are eager to begin counseling while others are reluctant.  However, when given a choice of therapist, we find that teenagers are more agreeable to the idea of therapy.  Our role is to support and guide teens and their parents by finding the right skills to best help your teenager through individual therapy with her/him, as well as family therapy, parent and teen sessions, and parent coaching.

We find working with teenagers especially exciting as we love the passion that they often bring to their sessions.  This is a time of discovery, creating a self-identity, and greater independence.  The steps for both parent and child that need to occur for a 12-year-old in middle school to become a 20-year-old functioning adult can seem insurmountable.  And yet, these steps do indeed happen, sometimes with just a few trip-ups along the way, and sometimes with challenges that require therapeutic support and techniques to make the journey into adulthood successful.  

As your teen’s psychotherapist, we are another trusted adult advisor for your child who can offer feedback, guidance, and effective techniques to help with the challenges she/he face.  At times your teen will need to play, at times your teen will need to talk and be heard, and at times your teen will need to be challenged.  There can be laughter, tears, frustration, and growth.  And, although your teen’s job in maturing is to differentiate from you, you are still a very important influence for your teen. As the parent, you will play a significant role in counseling through supporting your teenager during sessions and at home, encouraging the coping skills that your child is learning, and attending parent consults where we can exchange information of what is and is not working.  The job of parenting a teenager can be difficult and sometimes the best way to help your child is to learn new parenting skills.  With our guidance and coaching, you will gain a greater understanding of your child, your role and influences, and the best techniques to help you and your teenager in your ever shifting parent-teen relationship.  

Issues Treated in Teen Therapy​

  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD), Non-Verbal, and other Learning Disorders

  • Anxiety/Worry/Panic Attacks

  • Depression/Suicidal Thoughts

  • Drug and Alcohol Concerns

  • Grief/Loss

  • Impulse Control Issues

  • Managing Difficult Health Issues

  • Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) Spectrum

  • Phobias and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • School-related Difficulties

  • Self Harm

  • Sexual Identity

  • Sleep Issues

  • Social Challenges

  • Transitions - Divorce, Moving, New Family Structure, College Preparation

  • Trauma

Therapy Services for Teens

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