While almost anyone can benefit from working with a trained therapist, you might be surprised by the idea that your teen could be having a tough time. However, a therapist who specializes in the unique needs of teens and adolescents can help a young person with their mental and behavioral health. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your son’s behavior to determine if he needs counseling.
1. Is Your Child Having Trouble in School?
School can be unappealing for a teen who struggles to fit in socially or keep up academically. As a result, your son might start skipping classes or pretending to be sick so he can stay home from school, causing his grades to suffer. In this case, it’s helpful if you already have good relationships with his teachers, principal and school guidance counselor. You can talk to these professionals about patterns and behavioral issues they’ve noticed.
2. Is He Unusually Secretive or Withdrawn?
Teens have a reputation for being moody, which is why it can be challenging to tell the difference between typical adolescent angst and a mental health issue. In addition, a teenager attempting to assert his independence might lie to you about where he’s going and who he’s spending time with.
Use your parental instincts to spot signs of deception or secrecy – these could be warning you that your son is trying to hide a substance abuse problem. You can also look for red flags indicating he’s not keeping up with essential self-care, or has lost interest in formerly enjoyable hobbies and activities.
3. Is Your Teen Irritable?
Disorders like depression and anxiety don’t always manifest in predictable ways. While you might expect a depressed or anxious adolescent to spend all his time hiding in his room, that may not be the case for your son. Irritability is a hallmark of both these conditions, especially in young men. If your teen is having unpredictable mood swings or frequently lashes out for no apparent reason, you could improve his quality of life by seeking counseling.
4. Have His Eating Habits Changed?
Eating too much or too little could indicate that your son is living with an issue like depression. Dramatic weight fluctuations, binge-purge cycles or a refusal to eat specific foods can also alert you to a potential eating disorder.
Notice if your young adult son tends to make negative comments about his body or has started to wear shapeless, baggy clothes to hide his appearance. Adolescent boys who develop eating disorders can also fixate on weightlifting or insist on a grueling workout regimen. Unfortunately, doctors are less likely to diagnose men with an eating disorder, which means your son might not get the counseling he needs unless you advocate for him.
Blending Mental Health Counseling With Academic Support
When parents decide to seek treatment for their teenager, they often worry about whether that means they’ll have to put their child’s education on hold. At ARCH Academy, we’ve developed programming that allows your son to continue growing academically while he works on gaining the life skills necessary to recover from a substance use disorder. Every teenage boy who enrolls in our program receives educational support tailored to his grade level, including credit transfers and tutoring.