For Parents: What to Expect

Typically, I hear from parents first seeking therapy for their teen, however, it is not uncommon for the teen to reach out asking for support.  I will need to speak to the parent(s) or legal guardian over the phone to see if we may be a good fit for therapy and then schedule an initial therapy appointment in the office.  Parental involvement or adult support is required to engage in teen therapy services.  The first visit should last about two hours.  The structure is as follows:

  1. Meeting with the parents and the teen to discuss intake paperwork
  2. Session with the parents or adult, alone, to complete the intake assessment
  3. Session with the teen, alone, to complete the intake assessment
  4. Collaborating with the teen and the parents or adults to discuss treatment planning and next steps

Ongoing sessions usually last 50-55 minutes and I meet with the teen alone the first few times to build our relationship.  As therapy progresses, parents will be included in sessions  generally at the end of the session, as needed, to discuss relevant material, coping strategies, and techniques to support the teen and the family.

Picking a Therapist

When bringing up the topic of therapy with your teen, it’s important to do it in a kind and non-accusation way. Avoid lecturing or making them feel like there is something wrong with them. Instead, let her know that you care about her and you want her to feel safe, happy and healthy. Therapy is not to “fix” your child, but it’s a way for her to process some of her feelings and manage her stress in a safe and supportive environment.

It is essential for your teen to be involved in picking her therapist. It’s hard enough for her to meet someone new, including her in the decision process can be very empowering. You can let your teen look at the “for teens” section of my website to see if she has a “good vibe” about me, then let her decide for herself. If you she doesn’t like any of the therapist she read about, ask her which one she “least dislike” and encourage her to start with that therapist. Sometimes anxiety may get in the way of wanting to see a therapist, but we want your teen to have a voice in her therapeutic process.

Signs Your Teen May Need Therapy

Empowering Teen Girls in Vermont

  • Over-reaction to minor setback
  • Blaming others for mistakes
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Low motivation or underachievement
  • Anxious mood
  • Perfectionism or inflexible thinking
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Social problems or alliance with negative peer group
  • All-consuming relationships
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt or sadness
  • Issues with eating or with body image
  • Problems with authority and disrespectful behavior
  • Manipulation, lying, cheating, and stealing
  • Defiance, hostility, short temper
  • Little empathy for others
  • Substance abuse or dependence
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Addiction to internet, video games or cell phone
  • Isolation, limited engagement with others

Benefits of Teen Therapy


  • Physical health through sobriety and exercise
  • Personal responsibility and accountability
  • Ability to resolve problems at school
  • Increased respect for self and others
  • Cooperation with authority figures
  • Involvement in extra-curricular activities
  • Happier and healthier family dynamics
  • Initiative to find and keep a job
  • Ability to enjoy others and make a contribution
  • Increasing academic success