Is group therapy right for your teenager? Well, let's talk about it today on Tips on Teens. My
name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping
kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations, the Group Private
Practice Teen Therapy Center, and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, Child and Teen Counseling,
both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook Live
to answer your parenting questions. Today is no different. Let's jump into today's question.
I've been wanting to get my daughter into therapy, but she won't go see a therapist. Whenever
we discuss it, I get a lot of pushback from her. She recently told me, though, that she would consider
going to some kind of support group. I could see that maybe working for her because she likes
talking to other girls. I wanna help her, but I'm kind of concerned about other kids being a bad
influence on her. I'm scared that if she makes friends
with other kids with worse problems than her, it could go the wrong way. I don't know much about
it, though. Have you seen this happen, and how does a parent know if a therapy group is helping
or not? Wonderful question. Thank you for sending your question in. I think group therapy can
be great for teenagers. I, myself, have been running a group for over 10 years called The Guys
Group for high school boys struggling with self -esteem, needing more social support. Also,
one of our other therapists, Jennifer Perez, who's an associate professional clinical counselor,
is launching a group for high school girls called Free Harbor. There's a link below if you wanna
get more information on those. But group therapy can be great because if you've got a bunch of
teenagers in a group, they all have a shared experience, a shared culture. There's shared cultural
norms, shared pop culture references that can really go a long way to help connect and people
feel bonded with one another. For example, if
I'm a teenager of the 80s, and if I'm making friends and they're from the 80s too, and we have some
shared musical interests or TV interests from the past, there's this, ah, this connection.
Oh, you get what I get. You live the same experience I did. And it's different. Because if your
parents are from the 40s or 50s, they may have lived at that time, but they weren't a teenager
at that time. So it's a different culture. Just like you are not a teenager now, but your kids
are. So they're different cultures. And those cultural norms can help bring people together.
Now, the benefit of group therapy is that you have this group of teenagers together, but you
also have a therapist who specializes in helping kids and teens. And that therapist can help,
you know, nurture the conversations to make sure the conversation is going in a healthy way.
That therapist is hopefully a healthy, positive role model for the kids that the kids respect,
which again, can take time sometimes to build that, but
usually it works pretty well. But that therapist adds a component that makes it different than
your kid just hanging out with friends because that therapist can start questioning assumptions,
help challenge their choices, and help them find new ways to interact in the world. Now, whether
therapy is benefiting your kid or not, that's really depending on what your goals of therapy
are and what the group is designed to do. So that's a pretty nuanced question. So I think it's
important that if you get your kid in therapy, you talk to the therapist about what are your goals
and what does the therapy group offer. There are certain things that group can't really help
with. I mean, again, depending on the structure of the group, but if it's just strictly a group
for teenagers and there's relationship issues between you and your teenager, well, you can't
come into the group because you're not 16 or 13, depending on the age of the group. So for something
like that and developing, you know, healthy
relationships with the family, you may need to have individual and or family therapy on top
of that. So it just depends on what the goals are and whether those kids are gonna be a bad influence
on your kid. Actually, I generally see the opposite. I generally have a mix of kids, for example,
like weed smoking. I understand why that would cause a lot of parents some concern. Generally,
my group, there's some kids who smoke, some kids who don't. Sometimes it's all, sometimes it's
none. It just depends on the makeup of the group at that time. And generally what my experience
is, the kids who don't smoke, see the other kids and go, that's kind of why I don't think I wanna
smoke. And oftentimes, if kids are going, making some little knucklehead choices, the other
kids in the group will call them out, more so in the way that I could, because they're 16 and I'm
the adult. So again, I think it's really important that you research and talk to the therapist
that you're wanting to get therapy with
for the group. Make sure it's the right fit. Not every therapy group is the right for every kid,
depending on what their needs are and what the group offers. For example, you don't want your
kid to go to a group that's focused on addiction if your kid's issues are not about drugs. That's
not really the right fit for your kid. But if your kid's looking for somewhere that they can connect
and talk and process being more open, you're wanting more of a process group, much like the Guys
Group or Free Harbor here at Teen Therapy Center. Anyways, it's a great question. Keep them
coming. If you have a question you want me to answer here on Tips on Teens, email us at tipsonteens
at teentherapycenter .com or direct messages right here on Facebook. We love your questions.
Again, my name is Kent Toussaint from Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen Counseling, and
I will see you guys next Wednesday at noon. Bye -bye.
What exactly goes on in group therapy? Group therapy can be really helpful for teenagers and offers unique opportunities for connection. The experience of having shared cultural norms can really create a great atmosphere for growth, all in the presence of a positive role model to guide things along. Is it the right thing for your kid?
“I’ve been wanting to get my daughter into therapy, but she won’t go see a therapist. Whenever we discuss it I get a lot of pushback from her. She recently told me though that she would consider going to some kind of support group. I could see that maybe working for her because she likes talking to other girls. I want to help her, but I’m kind of concerned about other kids being a bad influence on her. I’m scared that if she makes friends with other kids with worse problems than her it could go the wrong way. I don’t know much about it though. Have you seen this happen, and how does a parent know if a therapy group is helping or not?”
Thinking about group therapy for your teen? Check out our group therapy page for more information.
Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live. He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.