There’s a difference between occasional laziness and a genuinely unmotivated teen. If your teenager never wants to do anything, they don’t show ambition for getting a job, they’re struggling in school, and their relationships are starting to suffer, it could be a bigger problem than you originally thought. Thankfully, you can motivate your unmotivated teen with a few effective strategies.
Are You Concerned About Your Teenager’s Mental And Emotional Health?
- Is your teen struggling with the pressure to perform and succeed?
- Have they begun to show signs of anxiety, depression, or intense fear of failure?
- Do you worry they are withdrawing from you or the relationships and activities that fulfill them?
Adolescence can be a tough time of life. The struggle to both fit in and individuate can introduce a lot of internal conflict for teens. As a result, it’s common for kids this age to become irritable, overwhelmed, and worried about being enough. You may find that even the smallest setbacks send your teen into a tailspin, causing them to overthink, ruminate on their anxieties, and compare themselves to others.
You may have also noticed physical symptoms affecting your teen’s behavior and outlook. Perhaps they complain of stomach aches, nausea, a lack of appetite, or other digestive issues. Maybe they’ve developed headaches or migraines. It’s also possible that their sleeping patterns have been disturbed, leading to other disruptions in their daily routine.
Ultimately, your teen simply desires to feel accepted for who they are—even on their worst day. They want a “normal” life, free of the limitations and restrictions that their inner critic has imposed on them. Fortunately, through counseling, your teen can learn how to overcome anxiety, build self-esteem, and feel affirmed in their identity.
It’s Common For Anxiety And Depression To Develop During Adolescence
First and foremost, it’s important for parents of teens to understand that mental health struggles are a normal part of adolescence. This is a time of significant change and development, often leading to increased levels of stress. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that close to one-third (31.9 percent) of adolescents meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder.  While staggering, this statistic emphasizes the prevalence of anxiety among teens.
Today’s teens face unique hurdles that make them more susceptible to mental health struggles. There is immense pressure to excel, navigate social relationships, and make important life decisions at a relatively early age. The pervasive influence of social media and digital connectivity can complicate matters, often exposing teens to cyberbullying, secondary trauma, and fear of missing out. Not to mention, this generation of adolescents has grown up in the unprecedented time of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has thrown a significant wrench in their academic, social, and athletic trajectories.
How Can Therapy Help Struggling Teens?
Parents play a crucial role in fostering mental health support for their teens, and understanding the prevalence of mental health concerns is the first step. However, many parents become panicked when their child struggles, often pushing to make surface-level changes that might worsen the cycle of anxiety and depression. There is such pressure to be successful at this age, perpetuating the idea that if we propel our kids forward now, they will be better prepared for the future.
Yet, anxiety and other mental health issues are often influenced by a combination of neurobiological and environmental factors. The teenage brain is undergoing so many developmental changes at any given time, and teens usually don’t have the tools or knowledge to identify triggers and use healthy coping mechanisms. Instead, they may resort to erratic and/or self-destructive behaviors to ease the discomfort caused by anxiety and depression.
A therapist specializing in adolescent development can provide an accurate assessment of what is going on with your teen’s mental health. At CAC Denver, we are passionate about helping our teen clients learn healthier ways of being, through tailored, goal-oriented therapy.
At Child And Adolescent Counseling Of Denver, We Specialize In Working With Teens
We understand that your teen wants to be seen, heard, valued, and respected. Therapy provides a safe space where your child can accomplish this kind of affirmation. In our work together, your teen will be given tools to express themselves in a healthy way, learn coping strategies, and develop a stronger sense of self.
What To Expect
Our teen therapists are invested in getting to the root of the issue—not just teaching surface-level stress regulation skills but actually helping out clients understand where their symptoms originate, offering lifelong insight into their mental and emotional health. When appropriate, we will involve parents in the treatment process so that they can learn the most effective, empowering ways to support their teen.
Our practice incorporates behavioral and expressive therapies into counseling for teens. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a goal-oriented, evidence-based therapy that can help your teen understand the relationship between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. By identifying the negative or distorted thinking patterns contributing to anxiety and depression, your teen can adjust their automatic response and replace distorted ideas with healthier, more realistic ones. When paired with creative/expressive practices, CBT can empower your child to make positive changes in their lives.
Another tool we use at our practice is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Essentially, EMDR works by rewiring the body’s stress response. The nervous systems jump into survival mode when something distressing happens, causing the left and right sides of the brain to disconnect and feel “stuck” in an anxious, fearful state. EMDR addresses the sensory experience of trauma through helping both sides of the brain recalibrate and reconnect, thereby tapping into the body’s innate healing abilities. In addition to being used to treat trauma specifically, EMDR is highly effective in reducing anxiety and improving academic and athletic performance.
We understand that you may be feeling frustrated or discouraged about your teen’s symptoms and behaviors, but the beautiful thing about the teenage brain is that it’s still developing! By learning strong, healthy ways of thinking about themselves and their challenges in therapy, your teen will create a toolkit they can use for life. As their anxiety decreases, your child can gain greater control over their stressors and improve their confidence in ways that will affirm and uplift their entire identity.
Still Have Questions About If Therapy Is Right For Your Teenage Child?
Is counseling actually effective for teens?
The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry published a study in 2014, finding that “teens who received mental health treatment had significantly better long-term outcomes in areas of education, employment, and overall well-being.”  Similarly, The American Counselor Association reports that teens who receive counseling services “demonstrate improved academic performance, increased motivation, and better school attendance.” 
Beyond the scientific research, our therapists have seen first-hand the impact that counseling has on the lives of our teens. With the right kind of supportive interventions, we know that we can help our clients reach their goals.
What if my teen resists the idea of therapy?
Many of our teen clients are resistant to the idea of counseling at first, but our counselors are uniquely skilled when it comes to building trust, creating a sense of validation, and allowing clients to set the pace and direction of therapy.
Data and our professional experience working with this population demonstrate that even when teens are skeptical about therapy, they are likely to benefit from treatment and perceive the counseling process as helpful.
Can therapy help my relationship with my teen?
A big component of treatment through CAC Denver is improving communication between teens and their parents. While we certainly aim to validate and empower our teens, we teach our clients skills for setting effective boundaries in a healthy, respectful way.
As a teen client, will my privacy be honored?
You have the right to confidentiality even as a minor, and your sense of privacy is one of our highest priorities in the counseling space. We understand that genuine trust must be built for this process to work. Everything you share with your therapist will be kept confidential with the exception of safety concerns, and we will make sure you know exactly what to expect when it comes to disclosing sensitive information.
Therapy Can Prepare Your Teenager For Life
If your teen struggles with anxiety, depression, or hurdles to their mental and emotional health, counseling through CAC Denver can offer effective skills that will last them a lifetime. To find out more about how our teen counselors can help, contact us.