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Teen Counseling in Scottsdale, AZ

It can be hard to parent our teens, but you’re not alone

As parents, it can be difficult to admit when our teenage child needs help, even when, deep down, we now in our hearts that something is wrong and our child is suffering.

If you feel like you are dealing with the “unknown” with your teen, you don’t need to take this on alone.

At Pathways Counseling Services, our team of honest, caring, and certified mental health professionals can help your teen through many common challenges.

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Does your teen deal with:

If you’ve ever asked yourself the following questions, we can help:

You and your Teen Don’t Have to Suffer In Silence

As parents, it can be difficult to admit when our teenage child needs help, even when, deep down, we know in our hearts that something is wrong and our child is suffering.

Sure, we want to be there for them, but sometimes, there are specific problems that we cannot help our children to solve. No matter how hard we try or how good our intentions may be, we sometimes simply don’t have what they need.

Thankfully, in those instances, professional counseling, and other teen therapy resources are available to give our kids the support they need.

Pathways Counseling Services Is Here for You and Your Teen

The team at Pathways Counseling Services can help put an end to your teen’s suffering. 

We believe that no teen, or anyone for that matter, should suffer in silence.

You’ve probably asked yourself countless times, “Does my teen need therapy?” 

If you are consistently asking the question, you likely already know deep down that the answer is probably yes. 

Study after study shows evidence of therapy’s positive effects on a teen’s mental health. Therapy can help them decrease mental disorder symptoms and promote emotional well-being.

Yes, admitting that your teenager needs help can be challenging for a parent, but the longer you delay seeking assistance, the worse their problems can become.

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Below we’ll explore many of the common issues our teens are facing today. If any of these sound familiar, we’d like to invite you to contact us for an appointment. We can offer a safe space for you and your teen to heal.

Signs of Anxiety in Teens

Anxiety in teens looks quite different from anxiety in younger children.

As a result, when it comes to therapy, caring for anxiety in your teen is also treated differently.

Teens tend to worry more about themselves, and this might look like perfectionism.

Here are some common signs your teen may be suffering from anxiety:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Recurring fear or worry over everyday routines
  • Isolation or withdrawal from activities
  • Heightened sensitivity around criticism
  • Extreme self-conscious behavior
  • Insomnia
  • Avoidance, especially of new or difficult situations
  • Chronic complaining about headaches or stomach aches
  • A decline in academic performance or truancy
  • Repeatedly seeking reassurances
  • Substance abuse

You may hear your teen talk about fears of failing in school, not doing well in sports, or being overly concerned about how others perceive them. It is also not uncommon for your teenagers to be highly critical of their bodies or appearance.

Check out our Anxiety Counseling page.

What Does Anger Look Like In Teenagers?

For parents, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish between what is normal teen behavior and what may signal a deeper issue of extreme anger. Among adolescents, anger can be a healthy response to stress.

Anger is usually secondary emotion among teenagers. It can mask other underlying emotions like shame, fear, hurt, and sadness. A teen may lash out at times when underlying emotions are too much to bear.

Slammed doors, eye-rolling, and arguments with parents or siblings are all common teenage behaviors. However, your teen may struggle with serious anger issues when emotional outbreaks become more frequent.

Teens with significant anger or defiance issues will exhibit behaviors beyond typical teen angst.

Teens who suffer from severe anger issues will be consumed with rage and anger. Parents should be aware of any illegal activity, risky behavior, self-harm, or violence. A teenager might lash out in response to stress or an undiagnosed or untreated mental disorder.

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Also see our blog on A Mental Health Self-care Checklist for the Modern Human.

Is My Teen Depressed?

Depression represents a severe mental health issue that can cause persistent feelings of sadness along with a lack of interest and engagement.

Depression can affect how a teen thinks, behaves, and feels. It can cause emotional and physical harm. Changing bodies, academic expectations, and peer pressure can bring highs and lows for teenagers. However, for some teenagers, the lows become more than temporary feelings. 

While depression can strike at any age, the symptoms are quite different between adults and teens.

The signs can feel overwhelming for parents to identify, and can be even more so for your teen as they work to deal with the ever changing reactions.

Teenage depression signs may vary, but emotional and behavioral changes to look for include:

  • Overwhelming sadness and crying for no reason
  • Anger and frustration over minor issues
  • Feelings of hopelessness or emptiness
  • Irritability
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Conflict with or a lack of interest in others
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Exaggerated self-criticism or self-blame
  • Fixation on failures 
  • Repeatedly seeking reassurances
  • Concentration, memory, and decision-making problems
  • A future outlook that seems bleak
  • Recurring thoughts about death or suicide
  • Insomnia 
  • Extreme appetite changes 
  • Substance abuse
  • Slowed movements, speech, or thinking
  • Chronic complaining about headaches or stomach aches
  • Isolation
  • Truancy or frequent school absences
  • A decline in academic performance
  • Diminishing attention paid to appearance or personal hygiene
  • Acting-out behaviors such as risky or disruptive behavior and angry outburst.
  • Burning, cutting, and other self-harm behaviors
  • Suicide plans or attempts
  • Lethargy
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Self-Esteem In Teens

Low self-esteem in teens is unfortunately quite common and may cause many problems. This can include difficulty managing relationships and decision-making problems. It is also closely associated with depression and anxiety. Low self-esteem in teens often results from childhood traumas, identity attacks, unrealistic societal expectations, or chronic criticism. 

A teenager with low self-esteem is more likely to have negative thoughts regarding self-worth and personal value.

Some signs of low self-esteem in teens include:

  • Feeling unwanted or unloved 
  • Avoiding new opportunities and things
  • Blaming others when they make mistakes
  • The inability to manage everyday frustrations
  • Repeated comparison to others and negative self-talk
  • Fear of embarrassment or failure 
  • Difficulty making new friends
  • Low interest and motivation
  • An inability to take compliments
  • Feelings of stress and anxiety

If your teen is showing signs of self-esteem issues, it’s time to find some needed resources.

Common Issues Teens Deal With In School

For most teens, their only job is to attend school and secure good grades. But, unfortunately, as we can all remember from our own teenage years, it is never quite that simple.

During adolescence, there are issues that teens have to deal with at school that can make their lives seem like a living hell. These issues can result in extreme stress, poor grades, isolation, avoidance, and physical and mental problems.

Here are the most common issues that teens deal with in school, which can be more easily managed when teen therapy resources are made available:

  • Peer pressure
  • Bullying or abuse
  • Teen drama/peer relationships
  • Academic pressure
  • Societal pressure

Couple this with the fear of school shootings, the coronavirus pandemic, and a whole host of other issues, and our teens need more support than ever before.

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Is My Teen Being Bullied?

Bullying occurs when a person deliberately and repeatedly threatens, frightens, upsets, or harms another person, their property, or their reputation.

Bullying is unfortunately all too common among teenagers. It’s also important to note that it doesn’t always look like it does on television and in the movies.

Bullying can vary from situation to situation, and no teenager is immune. 

For parents, teenage bullying may be difficult to spot because, unlike younger kids, bullying among teens doesn’t always involve physical abuse.

Teens are also more likely to hide the bullying out of shame or guilt.

However, there are specific signs of bullying that parents of teens can watch for, including:

  • A recurring fear or worry about school
  • Refusal to attend school or school-related activities
  • A decline in academic performance
  • Becoming increasingly isolated
  • Noticeable behavior and emotional behaviors
  • Insomnia
  • Disordered eating, or a sudden obsession with diet culture and/or appearance
  • Substance abuse
  • Increased self-conscious behavior
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Torn clothing
  • Missing or damaged belongings

What if Your Teenager Is Bullying Others?

Popular culture would lead us to believe that bullies are often the “bad kids.”

The truth though, is that many well-mannered kids get caught up in bullying.

In some cases, they may fall in with a crowd of bullies and participate to fit in better. Other teens crave attention, or it could be that they are simply naturally assertive.

Perhaps they are even unaware of the impact that their words and actions are having on others. Kids who were bullied often go on to bully others as well.

Hurt people, hurt people, as the saying goes.

When a parent becomes aware of their teen bullying another child, starting an open and honest conversation with that child is important.

First, tell them how you came to realize they were bullying others, and ask them to explain what happened. Then, allow them to have the space they need to explain themselves and how they are feeling. If it is not clear what is causing the behavior, there are many teen therapy resources and mental health professionals who can help.

Quite often, teenagers who bully are suffering from underlying emotional issues.

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This is where partnering with a mental health professional can be incredibly beneficial. Sometimes teens don’t want to explain what’s really going on to mom or dad.

Experiencing Trauma In Teens

A traumatic experience can be any life event that causes threats to a teen’s safety or potentially places their or another’s life at risk.

A traumatic experience causes high levels of physical, psychological, and emotional distress that can temporarily disrupt the teen’s ability to function. Although these reactions will ultimately subside through the natural recovery and healing process, teen therapy resources should be made available to teens who experience trauma to avoid long-term adverse effects.

Recognizing that teens can experience trauma in many different ways is important.

They can be deeply traumatized by local, national, and worldwide tragedies and even become traumatized when their peers experience personal trauma.

Here are some common signs of trauma in teenagers:

  • Chest heaviness or throat tightness
  • Appetite loss or an empty stomach feeling
  • Guilt, related to something they did or said/ things left undone or unsaid
  • Unexplained anger or lashing out 
  • Anger toward the deceased, followed by guilty feelings
  • Mood swings 
  • Unexpected crying
  • Restlessness and difficulty with concentration
  • Denial 
  • Sensing the presence of the deceased
  • Talking to photographs or having conversations with the deceased
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Emotional regression 
  • An obsession with remembering things or recounting stories about the deceased
  • Isolation
  • Taking on a new role in the household, especially after the death of a close family member
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Grief In Teens

The most important thing to remember when it comes to teens and grief is that teenagers will always manage grief differently than adults. Sometimes, the wide range of emotions brought forth by the loss of someone in their life can be confusing. 

Several factors can impact a teenager’s grief, including:

While there is no single formula for supporting grieving teens, the best course of action is to talk to them openly. Listen to what they have to say, and give them the space they need to grieve and cope in a way that feels most comfortable for them. That is, as long as it is not destructive. 

Everyone reacts to grief differently, but some responses are typical and universal. 

Teens grieving the death of someone they love may exhibit the following:

  • Chest heaviness or throat tightness
  • Appetite loss or an empty stomach feeling
  • Guilt, related to something they did or said/ things left undone or unsaid
  • Unexplained anger or lashing out 
  • Anger toward the deceased, followed by guilty feelings
  • Mood swings 
  • Unexpected crying
  • Restlessness and difficulty with concentration
  • Denial 
  • Sensing the presence of the deceased
  • Talking to photographs or having conversations with the deceased
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Emotional regression 
  • An obsession with remembering things or recounting stories about the deceased
  • Isolation
  • Taking on a new role in the household, especially after the death of a close family member
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Helping Your Teen Cope with Divorce

Divorce is hard on everyone, but it can be exceptionally difficult for teens to deal with.

For young people, adolescence represents a transition from childhood to the establishment of an identity that is different from their parents. As a result, it can often be challenging for parents to discern whether changes in a teenager’s behavior are part of normal development or a result of a divorce.

While some teens seemingly have an easy time navigating a divorce, others will struggle and be more vulnerable to low self-esteem and negative emotions.

There is no easy way to help a teenager cope with a divorce. Still, when parents build a strong, healthy foundation with kids ahead of a separation/divorce, they are more likely to weather the storm. Thankfully, teen therapy resources are available to kids dealing with a divorce.

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How To Determine If Your Teen Has Been Abused

It is not uncommon for teenagers to suffer emotional, physical, or sexual abuse at the hands of an adult family member, a significant other, or someone else right under a parent’s nose.

However, there are specific signs to look out for to determine whether or not your teen suffers from child abuse, or has been abused.

Please be aware, however, that these indicators are not always present in teen abuse.

It’s also worth noting that teenagers experiencing emotional and mental health issues that are unrelated to any abuse might display these behaviors. In other words, these signs may indicate other issues at play.

For example, unexplained bruising could be a result of a clumsy child. Or it could indicate they are a rough athlete. However, if multiple signs are present, it could be related to abuse.

Signs of child abuse in teens include:

  • Repeated, unexplained bruising, burns, or other injuries
  • Frequent or unexplained genital or stomach pain
  • Genital, vaginal, or anal bruising or bleeding
  • Sudden behavior changes, including extreme behaviors like becoming withdrawn, angry, quiet, or displaying signs of aggression or promiscuous behavior
  • Unexplained or excessive fear associated with specific people or places
  • An unusual aversion to physical contact or increased shyness
  • New behavioral problems such as running away or truancy
  • Substance abuse
  • Attempts to hide bodily injuries
  • Excessive crying or depression
  • Unexplained discharge
  • STDs
  • Stained, torn, or bloodied underclothes
  • Unexplained and frequent urinary infections, yeast infections, and sore throats
  • A decline in peer relationships
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • A drop in academic performance
  • Avoidance of recreational activities
  • Uncommon behaviors for teenagers, such as a fear of the dark, bedwetting, or thumb-sucking 

Does My Teen Need Therapy?

Parents want to give their kids the help they need. This is true whether your teenager is showing signs of trauma, self-esteem issues, or any other common problems that affect adolescents’ mental and physical well-being.

It can sometimes be too much for parents to handle on their own, and that’s okay. 

Thankfully there are teen therapy resources available from our mental health professionals who can help your teen through whatever it is that they are going through.

The trained professionals at Pathways Counseling Services are here to help.

Contact us today to find out how you and your teenager can benefit from our teen therapy resources. 

Schedule online. It's easy, fast and secure.

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