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How To Find A Therapist For A Depressed Teen


depressed teenage girl

It is common knowledge that adolescence is considered to be an exceedingly challenging time in a young person’s life. Teenagers are fraught with surging hormones, exponential physical development, incessant curiosity and a strong desire for autonomy. All the while teens are forced to rely on and employ outdated coping mechanisms as many often lack the effective emotional coping skills needed to navigate the challenges of adolescence. Depression, major depressive disorder, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a severe mental health illness that is characterized by persistent sadness and a lack of interest and/ or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities. The Mayo Clinic asserts that teenage depression “affects how your teenager thinks, feels and behaves, and it can cause emotional, functional and physical problems.” If left untreated, depression can lead to severe, in some cases life-threatening, consequences. As such, there are a multitude of treatment options available for a teenager diagnosed with depression, including countless mental health professionals. 

Where To Start

Locating a therapist for a young person struggling with depression can seem like an overwhelming task. The emotional charge behind wanting to provide your teenager with ample support can further complicate the process. All mental health providers offer a unique therapeutic standpoint as they are informed by their own personal and professional experiences. In order for the therapeutic process to work properly, the teenager must feel comfortable with his or her therapist. Although most parents will want to secure a therapist for their teenager as quickly as possible it is important be patient, as it is a process and the right fit may not happen immediately. Furthermore, if the therapist selected does not resonate with your teen, try another option. Below are several tips to help you with your process:

  1. Speak to your child’s PCP (primary care provider): many pediatricians and PCPs have a list of mental health providers they recommend. 
  2. Ask for recommendations and referrals: delve into your network of trusted friends and family members and ask for mental health referrals. Depending on the situation, even if the specific mental healthcare professional recommended is unable to work with your child, he or she will likely be able to refer you to someone in his or her professional network.
  3. Call first: prior to scheduling an initial consultation between a therapist and your child, make sure you conduct a thorough interview. Call the therapist and ask as many questions regarding their professional experience, educational background, therapeutic modalities they rely on most, experience specifically with treating teenage depression, and anything else you would like to know. 
  4. Have at least three options: not every therapist will be a good fit for your teenager, and simply because they may have passed your tests does not mean they will undoubtedly pass your child’s. Hence, it is helpful to have alternate/ backup options.

Trusting a stranger to help your teenager learn to effectively manage the symptoms associated with depression can make the decision process seem impossible. However, it is imperative to bear in mind that there are a plethora of highly qualified professionals that have extensive experience and expert knowledge in treating teenagers diagnosed with depression. 

For Information and Support 

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

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