10 Reasons Teens Go to Therapy

a teen in a counseling session with a therapist
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From mood swings to school issues, all teens have problems. But sometimes, a teen's distress might rise to a level where it's important to seek professional help. Therapy certainly doesn’t need to be reserved for life-altering events or serious mental health problems, however. Meeting with a therapist can prevent minor issues from turning into major problems.

If you think your teen could benefit from talking to a mental health provider, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with a professional. Talk to your pediatrician or schedule an appointment directly with a therapist. Sometimes, even just a few therapy sessions can make a big difference to your teen’s overall well-being.

Teens can benefit from meeting with a therapist to talk to about a variety of topics, ranging from relationship issues to questions about sexual identity. Here are some of the reasons teens go to therapy:


Mood disorders often start during the teen years. And if left untreated, depression can last into adulthood. If your teen seems irritable, sad, and withdrawn, talk to your pediatrician. An accurate diagnosis and early intervention are key components of effective treatment.

Anxiety Disorders

While it’s normal for teens to worry sometimes, some teens experience intense anxiety. Anxiety disorder can interfere with many different aspects of a teen's life, including friendships and academics.

Whether your teen has difficulty speaking in front of the class, or constantly worries bad things are going to happen, therapy could help them learn how to manage their symptoms.

Behavior Problems

Suspensions from school, repeat curfew violations, and aggressive behavior may be symptoms of more serious problems. A therapist could help uncover potential mental health issues, skill deficits, or social problems that may be driving your teen’s behavior.

Substance Abuse Issues

Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol can become serious problems for teenagers. A substance abuse counselor can assess your teen’s substance use and help determine the most appropriate course of treatment. Individual therapy, group therapy, detox, or residential treatment may be options depending on the severity of a teen’s problems.


Teenagers can get stressed out. Whether it’s the pressure to perform well on an exam or concerns over what to do after high school, stress can take a serious toll. Therapy can help a teen learn skills to manage stress successfully—and that’s something that will serve them well throughout their lives.

School and Social-Related Issues

Bullies, failing grades, cliques, and teacher-related issues are just a few of the social-related problems many teens experience. Teens often aren’t sure where to turn for help.

Therapy can provide teens with support and give them skills that will help them navigate high school successfully.

Legal Problems

Stealing, underage drinking, or fighting are just a few of the reasons teens get into trouble with the law. Sometimes, they’re mandated by probation—or their parents—to receive counseling. Therapy can help a teen learn how to make healthier choices so that further legal issues can be prevented.

Low Self-Esteem

While most teens struggle with self-confidence issues at one time or another, some experience serious self-esteem issues. When those issues are left unaddressed, teens are at a higher risk of problems such as substance abuse and academic failure. Therapy can help boost a teen’s self-esteem.


Whether it’s a near-death experience or a sexual assault, traumatic events can have a lifelong impact on a teen.

Therapy can increase resilience and reduce the impact the traumatic event has on a teen’s life.

Early intervention can be the key to helping a teen recover from traumatic circumstances.


Teens deal with grief a little differently than adults and the loss of a loved one can be especially difficult during adolescence. Individual, family, or group therapy can help teens sort out their feelings and make sense of their loss. 

Other Reasons to Seek Therapy

Teens don't need to be experiencing specific symptoms of mental illness to benefit from therapy. Some other reasons that teens might want to think about psychotherapy include:

  • A desire to gain greater self-awareness
  • A desire to talk about difficult topics to people other than friends or family
  • A need to discuss sexuality, sexual orientation, or gender identity
  • Autism
  • Dealing with a disability
  • Difficulty adjusting to changes in life
  • Eating disorder symptoms such as restrictive eating or binge eating
  • Feelings of loneliness
  • Problems with negative thinking
  • Romantic relationships
  • Self-harm or risky behaviors
  • Struggles with identity or self-worth
  • Troubles coping with a chronic health condition
  • Issues stemming from racial or cultural discrimination

A Word From Verywell

If you're questioning treatment for your teen, err on the side of caution and contact a professional. If your teen isn't interested in therapy, however, don't worry. Many teens are hesitant to talk to someone. Encourage your teen to try therapy for a few sessions and then, you might allow them to make the decision about whether to continue. If your teen outright refuses counseling, you can be the one to talk to a therapist. You may be able to gain new ideas and skills for helping your teen cope better.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Data and Statistics on Children's Mental Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reviewed April 19, 2019.

  2. Das JK, Salam RA, Lassi ZS, et al. Interventions for Adolescent Mental Health: An Overview of Systematic Reviews. J Adolesc Health. 2016;59(4S):S49-S60. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.06.020

By Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.