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Adolescent psychotherapy is a form of psychiatric treatment that can be effective in treating a wide range of issues from emotional and behavioral problems in young children, to mental health disorders in adolescents and young adults. There are several types of psychotherapy that involve different approaches, techniques, and interventions. When posed with the question: What is the most effective kind of adolescent psychotherapy? The answer is variable as there are countless factors that must be considered which make it is impossible to provide a definitive answer regarding the universal efficacy of any single type of adolescent therapy. Some of the more common adolescent psychotherapeutic modalities used to treat young people include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and developing personal coping strategies to problem solve effectively. 
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): utilizes four main strategies (i.e., core mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation) for teaching young people skills that help with effectively changing their behaviors. 
  • Interpersonal therapy (IPT): focuses on how a young person’s communications and interactions with other people affect his or her own mental health. 
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR): utilizes guided eye movement techniques to help process one’s memories, thoughts, and emotional associations.
  • Motivational interviewing (MI): is a counseling method that helps young people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior.
  • Psychoeducation: is the practice of educating those with mental health ailments and their families to help support them with their condition. It entails four broad goals: transfer of information, medication and treatment support, training and support in self-help and self-care, and the provision of a safe place to vent emotional frustrations.
  • Narrative therapy: developed by Michael White and David Epston is a non-pathologizing, empowering, and collaborative approach that views young people as separate from their problems. It assumes “people have many skills, abilities, values, commitments, beliefs, and competencies that will help them change their relationships with the problems influencing their lives.” The purpose of narrative therapy is to externalize problems to facilitate positive interactions with others.
  • Expressive arts therapy (e.g., play therapy, art therapy, music therapy, drama therapy, sand therapy, etc.): provides an alternative medium to express, process, and integrate one’s thoughts and feelings surrounding the recovery process.
  • Group therapy: participating in group therapy sessions can help an adolescent learn from peers that are navigating thoughts and emotions facing similar challenges.

The ever-changing nature of adolescents can make it difficult to distinguish between behaviors associated with typical teenage insecurities and those that may require professional support. When in doubt, it is recommended for a young person to undergo a full evaluation, also known as a biopsychosocial assessment, from a qualified mental health provider. These evaluations examine the biological, psychological, and social factors at play in the life of an adolescent, determine their impact on mental health, and illuminate necessary insights to allow the evaluator to provide customized treatment recommendations, and offer suggestions as to which therapeutic interventions may best suit one’s nuanced and distinct needs.

Further Information and Support

For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.

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