Counseling for Teens and Adolescents

The teenage years are marked by development, transition, growth, and change. Teenagers and adolescents are developing their sense of self, building lasting relationships, and figuring out their place in the world.

This dynamic period of life can be exciting, but it can also be extremely difficult. Because of the rapid changes in experiences, environments, relationships, personalities, and moods, there is a lot of potential for problems to arise: It is estimated that about 21.4% of teens endure a significant mental health issue. While this is an overwhelming statistic, it also points to the fact that your teen isn’t alone. Because of the ubiquity of the issues that are characteristic of the teenage years, effective treatments are available. Teen counseling can drastically help teens with a variety of issues by giving them support, equipping them with the tools they need to solve their problems, and providing them with a safe place to talk openly about what they’re going through.

Substance Use in Teenagers

One of the most common and scary issues that characterize the adolescent years is that of substance use. By 18, approximately 20% of teens have taken a prescription drug recreationally, 40% have smoked cigarettes, 50% have tried an illegal substance, and 70% have tried alcohol. As teens begin to grapple with their identity and yearn for independence, experimentation with drugs occurs. Other factors that may encourage substance use in teenagers include, but are not limited to, peer pressure, substance use in the media, rebellion, the need for self-medication, and confidence issues.

  • Changes in behavior such as social or familial isolation or lack of interest in their usually preferred activities.
  • Changes in mood such as increased irritability or depression.

  • Changes in personality such as a responsible teen suddenly making poor decisions, a good student suddenly getting bad grades, or a happy adolescent suddenly becoming aggressive.
  • Changes in physical appearance such as weight fluctuation, fatigue, dilated pupils, or lack of hygiene.

Adolescent substance use is scary, but help is available. Alcohol and drug counseling can help by getting to the root of the problem. Substance use is often just a symptom of a deeper problem and it’s vital to find out what that problem is. Once the true problem is illuminated, therapy can give teens safe and effective tools for dealing with that problem so that substance use is no longer necessary.


“Thank you, thank you, thank you for your conditional support during the hardest/toughest, most emotional years of my life. Truly so happy you were my therapist. Such a journey I can’t imagine with anybody else!”

Linda B.

“Our sessions are the most helpful thing for me out of everything right now. I feel my anxiety decreasing and I really have hope, something I haven’t experienced in my life before.”

Jacob G.

“Not drinking as much as I used to definitely would not have been possible without you. I am so appreciative of you and all of the guidance you gave me! I feel healthier than ever!”

Kelly A.


Week Days 2:00 – 9:00pm
Saturday 2:00 – 9:00pm
Sunday 2:00 – 9:00pm



Therapy Santa Barbara
1815 State St., Suite E
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Common Teenage Issues

Common teenage issues may include:

  • Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and ADHD

  • Suicide

  • Sexual health and pregnancy

  • Relationship issues with families, friends, and romantic partners

  • Building and maintaining self-esteem

  • Communication skills

  • Disordered eating

  • Family problems such as divorce or violence in the home

  • Academic pressure

  • Negative effects of Social Media

  • Self-management skills

  • Peer pressure

  • Grief

  • Bullying

  • Trauma and Abuse (sexual, emotional, physical)

  • Balancing school, work and a social life

  • Self-care

Therapy Santa Barbara’s Services

Luckily, you are not alone! Therapy Santa Barbara’s services for teens & adolescents include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Confront and change negative thought patterns that may be preventing teens from effectively solving their problems.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Learn to accept who you are and what you can’t control.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy: Use past memories as a guide to confront present problems and plan for a happier and healthier future.
  • Interpersonal Therapy: Learn how to build and maintain healthy relationships.
  • Seeking Safety Treatment: Feel safe from any trauma or substance use that may have been experienced and grow from those experiences.
  • Vocational-Educational Counseling: Use personal strengths to establish future goals that will fulfill your needs and desires

Benefits of Teenage Counseling

The thought of going to therapy often elicits some negative emotions from people and this is even more true of adolescents. It’s hard to talk about your problems and it’s even harder to solve them. However, therapy for teens is extremely beneficial in a myriad of ways:

  • Therapy provides adolescents with a trustworthy confidant who they can feel comfortable talking to.

  • Therapy provides a healthy outlet through which teens can talk about their emotions and problems instead of bottling them up.
  • Therapy provides adolescents with an educated, trained professional who can guide them through their struggles and help lead them to solutions.

  • Therapy provides teens with a safe and supportive space free of judgment.

Talking to your Teen about Therapy

Teens often feel ashamed or guilty about what they are going through and those emotions may prevent them from seeking help. Having a conversation with your teen may help them realize that therapy could be very beneficial for them. The thought of having such a conversation may be overwhelming, but here are some tips:

  • Express your unconditional love and support.
  • Let them know that they have nothing to be ashamed of.

  • Be honest—tell them why you think therapy would be helpful to them.

  • If you have been to therapy, share your experience with them.

  • Validate their feelings—if they don’t want to go to therapy, try to understand why.

  • Explain some of the benefits of therapy and how it will help them achieve what they desire.

  • Be calm but firm in your tone.

  • Compromise—your teen might be more likely to agree to attend 3 therapy sessions, and that’s a great start.

  • Emphasize that you don’t want them to go to therapy because you think something is “wrong” with them.

  • Establish boundaries—assure your teen that what they talk about with their therapist is private.

Make An Appointment

You’re ready to take the first or next step towards creating the life you desire.