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Posted on: March 14, 2023 | Fire Toss

Counseling is a powerful tool to help people improve their mental and emotional well-being. While counseling sessions are beneficial for people of all ages, how counseling is conducted varies when it comes to teens versus adults. Adolescents and adults have different levels of maturity and life experiences, which can require different approaches in counseling sessions. Counseling for teens is not going to follow the same processes or paths that are used in counseling for adults. There is a variety of different ways that the method of counseling can be altered to fit the needs of the specific person receiving it. In this blog, we’ll go over many of the ways that the approach to counseling for teens and adolescents differs from the approach to counseling for adults.

Counseling Teens

Different Forms of Therapy

There are many different forms of therapy that people can choose from and certain forms of therapy are more or less effective for specific individuals or groups of individuals. The effectiveness (or lack thereof) of a particular method will help both the therapist and the client decide which method is best for them. When it comes to the different forms of therapy being received by certain groups, the primary method of therapy used by adults is psychotherapy or talk therapy. This is typically done through a conversation between adults where the client is guided by the therapist to recount and explore different memories, thoughts, and other elements of their life. This differs from most therapy that is received by teens and adolescents. Therapy for those who have not yet entered adulthood typically includes a variety of methods. An adolescent client may receive some talk therapy coupled with some play therapy or another modality. Relying on a combination of forms of therapy is key to keeping adolescents and teens engaged and helping them to better understand themselves.

Different Interaction Methods

Therapy sessions for adolescents can look quite different from ones that are used for adults as they are usually designed specifically to meet their needs. Counselors may use personal stories and humorous anecdotes to captivate the short attention spans that many teens and adolescents have. On the other hand, adults are typically more aware of the process itself and have established expectations about how they should interact in each session accordingly. Adults typically participate by answering the questions that are asked of them by the counselor and collaborating with the counselor to help them come up with logical solutions to their problems.

Different Developmental Milestones and Stages of Life

Adolescent counseling takes a unique perspective compared to adult therapy, as the treatment is tailored to their individual developmental milestones. Understanding and addressing these stages of growth can help an adolescent learn how their evolving needs should be met and ultimately lead them toward healthier stability and well-being. The high plasticity brains that teenagers have can impact their intellectual and emotional behavior and maturity adding an extra layer to navigate through while counseling.

Adolescence and adulthood are two vastly different stages in one’s life and mental health professionals recognize this. The needs and focus of a person change greatly depending on what stage of life they’re in. Adolescents typically care more about creating an identity and weighing societal expectations throughout the process. Adults, however, are usually struggling with intimacy, isolation, and discovering their purpose. Clinicians’ approach to each group differs based on these values and priorities.

Different Topics

When it comes to comparing counseling for teens to counseling for adults, there is no aspect that differentiates the two more than the topics that are discussed during sessions. Adults and adolescents have lived different lives and have very different experiences that weigh most heavily on their minds. This creates a rather large divide between the subjects they may deem most prominent. Adults will commonly talk about relationship issues, anxiety, depression, work-related stress, substance abuse, concerns about their health, and intimacy-related concerns whereas adolescents most commonly discuss self-harm, eating disorders, bullying, a need for more independence, family dynamics, and their search for an identity. Although there may be some overlap in broader issues, the individual concerns of teens differ substantially from the concerns of adults.

Overall, counseling for teens and adults is vastly different. Adolescents require tailored therapy to meet their specific developmental milestones as well as topics that are relevant to them such as bullying and creating an identity. Adults, on the other hand, typically require a less individualized approach. It’s important for mental health professionals to recognize how these two stages of life differ in order to provide clients with the best possible treatment plan according to their needs. By understanding how counseling differs between teens and adults, clinicians can ensure they properly address each individual’s concerns resulting in improved outcomes overall. If you have any other questions about the differences between counseling for teens and adults or you would just like to learn more about the counseling process in general, the team at Valley Behavioral Health has all the information you need and is here to help you in any way we can.

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