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Therapy for Teens: What to Expect

Q. What Are the Types of Therapy for Teens?

A. There are three main types of therapy for teens: individual, group, and family. Sometimes, people will do combinations of therapy, such as individual and group therapy. The type of therapy you have depends on the problem(s). Here are some details on each:

  • Individual Therapy. In individual therapy, you meet with a therapist alone to talk about your problems. Each session lasts about 50 minutes. The therapist may ask you to identify your feelings about the problems. And you might get "homework" that will help you work through the problems. Everything you say in therapy is confidential, unless the therapist has good reason to believe you might hurt yourself or someone else. Sometimes, it can be helpful for your therapist to talk to your parents or your school counselor about a problem.
  • Group Therapy. Group therapy allows you to see how other teens handle their problems. You will also practice new ways to handle your own problems. Starting out in a new group can be a little scary because you don't know the other people. But after a few sessions, you will probably feel more comfortable. Usually, there are about five people in each group with one or two leaders. The group leaders will bring up topics and ask questions. But you are free to ask your own questions and get answers from the group. Group therapy sessions usually last about 90 minutes.
  • Family Therapy.With family therapy, you and your parents (and sometimes your brothers and sisters) go to therapy together. Because everybody is there, you can work on problems that affect the family. The therapist will discourage interrupting, and make sure everyone gets to voice their concerns.

Q. How Long Does Therapy Last?

A. Most therapies do not have a set time length. Some problems resolve very quickly. Others are more complex and take longer. Usually, therapy will last at least three months if you go once a week. For some problems, you might be in therapy for a year. Even though therapy can take a long time, you should notice progress.

Q. Will I Feel Uncomfortable Talking About My Problems?

A. It is normal to feel awkward talking about sensitive things. The uncomfortable feeling means that you are trying something new. As you get used to meeting with your therapist or group, you should get more confident.

Q. What If I Don't Like My Therapist?

A. Having a good relationship with your therapist is one of the most important parts of therapy. Sometimes people just do not get along well with a therapist, and you should know in the first session or two. If you don't like your therapist, it is OK to try a different one.

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