One of the biggest concerns that comes up between parents and their teens is whether they can trust one another. Parents don’t trust their teens and teens don’t trust their parents. Yet, without trust, two people can never become entirely close. Without trust in a relationship, it’s impossible to feel safe and cared for by another person. Although parents don’t necessarily need to feel cared for by their children, but certainly it should be the case the other way around. Teens are still children no matter how much they are beginning to look like adults; they still require the loving and trusting relationships of their parents.
Of course, developing trust takes time. It requires deepening the connection between two people, and this is true for a parent-teen relationship as well. Yet, if there are events of betrayal, trauma, abuse in a family’s history, then it’s likely that the trust between a child and parent has been compromised. Yet, in the presence of someone that your teen can trust then he or she might be able to find that it is safe to trust others and become close to them.
One way to support building trust in your teen as well as in the relationship you have with your teen is through psychotherapy. It’s true that participating in therapy might come with stigma, especially among your child’s teenage peers. But the pros outweigh the cons, both for your family in general, and for the development of your child. Also, therapy is entirely confidential, and if you and your teen agree not to share it with others, then there’s likely no way that your teen’s peers would know that he or she is in therapy.
There are a number of ways that psychotherapy can be beneficial for both of you. For your teen, the benefits are endless. For instance, psychotherapy can facilitate your teen’s maturity, independence, and autonomy. Because teens are caught in between childhood and adulthood, they need an adult with whom they can begin to have a mature relationship with. As a parent, you might want to provide this for your child. However, if the history of your relationship has been rocky then it might be difficult to move it in the direction you wish.
For this reason, a therapist can begin to have that positive relationship with your teen. And with a positive relationship, your teen can gain many benefits. For instance, psychotherapy can provide your child with coping mechanisms. Being a teenager is stressful. They are undergoing a number of changes, and those changes are major ones. Add to this that adolescence is often a stage in which any unresolved trauma resurfaces. On top of all this, a teen may not know appropriate and healthy ways to manage intense feelings such as anxiety, fear, sadness, shame, or anger. A therapist can provide specific ways to manage emotions and stressful circumstances. Psychotherapy can help a teenager manage his or her moods. If your child has been diagnosed with Depression, Bipolar Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, or other mood disorders, a therapist can work with your child on specific mood managing techniques where medication might fall short. Also, adolescents with Bipolar Disorder, for example, may be developmentally young socially, emotionally, intellectually, and even physically. A therapist can help a teen identify behaviors, thoughts, and emotions that keep them stuck in the past, and facilitate their journey into the future.
But simultaneously, a therapist can also meet with you, your spouse, and your teen together. Here, your family can work on building and strengthening relationships. You can work on what’s working and what is not working in the relationships among you. Together, you can focus on the systems and relationships within your family network. By doing this you can explore how to build trust among one another, especially in order to better manage the specific problems your family is facing.
Psychotherapy can provide a wide range of benefits for your teen and for your entire family. It can help build trust among you, if it’s been absent for several years.