7 Major Signs Your Teenager Might Need Therapy

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Wondering whether your teenager might need therapy can be a difficult decision for any parent. The adolescent years often bring a whirlwind of emotional storms and developmental challenges. Navigating through the ups and downs is an inherent part of this phase, but distinguishing between normal fluctuations and potential signs that your child could benefit from professional support can be challenging.

In this blog, we explore the critical question: Does your teenager need therapy? The compassionate counselors at Dr. Messina & Associates located in Southlake and Flower Mound, Texas, have written about the seven major signs that might indicate your child could benefit from the guidance of a therapist. We also touch on the hidden cues that may not be immediately recognizable but are important to know.

It’s good to remember that seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness; rather, it is a proactive step towards ensuring your child’s well-being and fostering their emotional growth.

Let’s look at the 7 most common emotional and behavioral signs your teen could benefit from counseling:

Emotional Shifts

1. Persistent sadness or irritability: Is your usually cheerful child withdrawn, tearful, or easily frustrated for extended periods? These could be signs of depression or anxiety.

2. Sudden mood swings: Does your teenager experience extreme highs and lows, bouncing quickly from intense joy to crushing sadness? This might indicate bipolar disorder or other emotional dysregulation issues.

3. Excessive worry or fear: Does your child seem constantly on edge, worrying about everything from schoolwork to social interactions in a way that cripples their everyday life? Uncontrolled anxiety can interfere with daily life and requires professional guidance.

4. Talk of death or self-harm: If your child expresses suicidal thoughts or engages in self-harming behaviors, immediate professional intervention is crucial. Don’t hesitate to seek help from emergency services.

If your child is talking about harming him/herself or attempting suicide, tell someone who can help right away.

  • Call 911 for emergency services.
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
  • Call or text 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Behavioral Changes

5. Social withdrawal: Does your once outgoing child prefer isolation, avoiding friends and family activities? Social withdrawal can stem from various issues, including depression, anxiety, or bullying.

6. Academic struggles: Has your academically strong child’s grades suddenly plummeted? Are they avoiding school or showing a lack of motivation? This could indicate underlying emotional issues affecting their focus and performance.

7. Changes in eating or sleeping habits: Significant changes in appetite or sleep patterns can be red flags. Excessive eating or difficulty eating, along with insomnia or excessive sleepiness, might indicate deeper concerns.

Plus: Hidden Cues Your Teen Might Need Counseling

Beyond the obvious signs, there are subtler indicators that your teen might benefit from teen counseling sessions:

  • Difficulty expressing emotions: Bottling up emotions can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Therapy can provide them with tools for healthy expression.
  • Increased conflict: While conflict is normal, constant clashes might indicate underlying issues requiring professional mediation.
  • Resistance to talking: Sometimes, resistance stems from fear or difficulty processing emotions. A therapist can create a safe space for them to open up.
  • Indirect cries for help: Pay attention to jokes about hurting themselves or social media posts hinting at distress.

Understanding Teen Therapy

Seeking therapy for your teenager can seem daunting, but it’s important to remember it’s a supportive and safe space for them to navigate their emotions and challenges. Therapy is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and several modalities exist to cater to your teen’s specific needs.

What to Expect

Initial Consultation: This first meeting involves discussing your concerns and the therapist getting to know your teen. It’s an opportunity to assess the situation and determine the best approach.

Individual Therapy: This is the most common format, where your teen meets with the therapist one-on-one to discuss their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Family Therapy: Sometimes, involving family members can be beneficial in addressing communication issues or providing support.

Benefits of Teen Therapy

  • Developing healthy coping mechanisms: Therapy equips teens with tools to manage stress, anxiety, and difficult emotions.
  • Improving communication skills: Therapists can help teens express themselves effectively and navigate challenging conversations.
  • Building self-esteem: Exploring their identity and overcoming challenges can boost your teen’s confidence and self-worth.
  • Strengthening relationships: Therapy can improve communication and understanding within families and with peers.
  • Early intervention for mental health concerns: Addressing issues early can prevent them from escalating and impacting other areas of life.



Therapy is a collaborative process. Encourage your teen to be actively involved in their sessions. It takes time and commitment to see results. Be patient and supportive throughout the journey. Celebrate their progress, no matter how small.

Is your teen struggling emotionally? You're not alone.

Today’s teens face intense pressure and challenges, and Dr. Messina & Associates, with teen counseling in Southlake and Flower Mound, wants you to know you’re not alone. We offer supportive therapy services to help teenagers navigate emotional difficulties, build coping skills, and thrive.

Schedule a consultation today. We offer individual, family, and group therapy options.


Picture of Dr. Michael Messina

Dr. Michael Messina

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