Nexus Academy | Personalized Drug & Alcohol Rehab

Choosing the Best Therapy for Your Depressed Teen – A Parent’s Checklist

Choosing the Best Therapy for Your Depressed Teen - Parents Checklist

As parents, we often find ourselves in a dilemma in choosing the most effective therapy model for our depressed teenagers. It is a challenge that can be devastating, considering the many factors you must consider to make an informed decision. Successfully going past this obstacle is the first step in supporting your depressed adolescent. Choosing the best therapy is beneficial and vital for effective treatment of depression. Just the way every teenager is unique, their individual experiences and challenges with depression are also unique. So, what works for another teenager may not work for your teen. This is why you must choose the best therapy tailored to your teen’s unique needs and preferences.

In this article, we will guide you in choosing the best therapy for your depressed teenager. By offering insights and clear guidance, we aim to remove some of the stress and confusion associated with selecting the right therapy for depressed teens. Keep reading to get more insights!

Understanding Teen Depression

To have a good grasp of the selection process, you must understand the complexities of teen depression. So, let’s explore this first:

Signs and Symptoms

Depression in your teen may display in different forms, meaning that you have to know the signs and symptoms to look for the type of teen depression. Here are the common signs of teen depression:

  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Trouble in concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Mood swings
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal ideation

Therefore, you must be vigilant, look out for any of the signs above, and seek early intervention.

Variability of Depression

Depression does not occur similarly in all teenagers. Whereas some may exhibit signs like sadness, others may show extreme irritability or anger. Additionally, external factors like family conflicts, societal pressures, social demands, and academic stress can escalate depression symptoms in adolescents. Understanding this variation is important in designing a personalized therapy treatment for your teen. Since what worked for another teen may not work for your adolescent, tailoring therapy to your teen’s unique needs is crucial.

Checklist for Choosing the Right Therapy

Having formed a solid foundation for teen depression, we can now explore the checklist for choosing the most suitable therapy for your depressed teenager. We have carefully selected a series of factors to help you go through this process effortlessly. Let’s have a look:

Determine the Type of Therapy Needed

The first step is recognizing the best therapy for your teen. To do this, you must understand the various types of therapies and what they address to make an informed decision. Here are some common options to learn:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT for teens is an evidence-based and widely used therapy for teen depression. It helps teens identify and change negative behaviors and thought patterns. CBT will help your depressed teen recognize their distorted thoughts and develop healthier coping strategies. It is particularly effective in addressing symptoms such as negative thinking patterns, low self-esteem, and persistent sadness.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT for teens incorporates CBT aspects with mindfulness techniques. It allows teens to regulate their emotions and improve their interpersonal skills. It will be helpful if your teenager struggles with impulsivity, heightened emotions, and self-destructive behaviors.
  • Family Therapy: Depression affects not only the teenager but also their family at large. Family therapy will help you communicate effectively with your teen, form stronger bonds, and deal with any underlying issues. If your teen is struggling with dysfunction, trauma, or family conflicts, family therapy for teens could help.
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): IPT helps adolescents improve their interpersonal skills and maintain stronger and healthier relationships. It helps teens deal with interpersonal conflicts, life changes, and grief, all of which can escalate depression symptoms.
  • Medication: Some cases require medication. However, medication is more effective for severe depressive symptoms when used together with therapy. A qualified psychiatrist can prescribe antidepressants to help reduce the symptoms of depression and improve your teen’s overall well-being.

You realize that each of these options is unique in its way and addresses distinct symptoms. Therefore, you should consult with a qualified healthcare professional to determine the most suitable approach or combination for your depressed teenager.

Verify Therapist Credentials and Specialization

Once you have identified the most suitable therapy, you must select the best therapist with expertise and knowledge to address your teen’s unique needs. Teen depression requires specific knowledge, expertise, and skills. A therapist who understands the developmental and psychological challenges and the specific treatment approaches can provide more effective and tailored care for your depressed teen.

To choose the best therapist, you must verify their credentials and specialization. To do that, consider the following steps:

  • Ensure the therapist has the relevant licenses and is accredited by a recognized and authorized professional body in your region. This will guarantee they have the necessary training and comply with the set ethical standards for practice.
  • Research on the therapist’s experience dealing with depressed teens. Inquire how many years they have been practicing in the line of teen depression and the percentage of their caseload related to depressed teens.
  • Look for a therapist who has specialized certification or training in teen mental health, especially depression treatment. This may include a record of workshop attendance or extra courses in adolescent therapy.
  • Look for recommendations from reliable sources such as other parents who have previously received help for their depressed teens, your teen’s school counselor, or a pediatrician. Personal referrals can provide invaluable insights into a therapist’s suitability and effectiveness.
  • Finally, trust your instincts when assessing the rapport between the therapist and your teenager during the initial consultations. A good relationship between your teen and their therapist is crucial for building trust and ensuring effective therapy sessions for optimal results.

Consider Therapy Format

As you select the best therapy for your depressed teen, it’s crucial to consider the therapy format. Would your teen prefer individual or group therapy? Do they enjoy in-person or online therapy sessions? Involving your teen at this stage can be very helpful in making the process seamless. Below are the different therapy formats that you can consider:

Individual Therapy

Teen Individual therapy involves only your teen one-on-one with their therapist. Its advantages are that it provides individualized care and attention. It also allows your teen to express their emotions and experiences without fear of scrutiny or criticism. Individual therapy also allows the therapist more time to focus on and address your teen’s issues effectively.

However, individual therapy can also have some drawbacks. For instance, your teen may feel uncomfortable in one-on-one sessions and hesitate to share their experiences or feelings. It can also be quite expensive and does not offer peer or social support available in group therapies.

Group Therapy

As the name suggests, group therapy involves your teen participating in therapy sessions with their peers. First, it provides a supportive environment where your adolescent connects with peers struggling with similar challenges. Your teen will also enjoy emotional validation and peer support.

But again, group therapy may not be effective for all teenagers, especially if your teen is uncomfortable sharing their experiences in a group setting or is introverted. It may also not be effective if your teen requires more personalized treatment to address their unique concerns or needs.

Similarly, you must choose between in-person and online therapy sessions after talking to your teen and understanding their preferences and interests. We can explore these options briefly.

In-Person Therapy

In-person therapy allows for face-to-face interaction between your teen and their therapist. It fosters a deeper rapport, connection, and trust. It is also more structured and freer from distractions, thus allowing more focus and understanding.

However, it may present logistical challenges, especially regarding scheduling and transportation. Also, it may be impossible in the face of concerns such as a pandemic. For example, most parents could not access in-person therapy during COVID-19 and thus sought alternatives like online therapy.

Online Therapy

Online therapy is more convenient and accessible, especially in underserved or remote areas. It allows your teen to attend therapy sessions comfortably from home. The absence of transport costs also makes it relatively cheaper.

Online therapy also has its setbacks. It lacks the nonverbal cues and personal connection available in in-person therapy. Since it requires technology, the lack of a smartphone, tablet, or computer may make it impossible. Poor internet connectivity or other technical issues may also disrupt therapy sessions and affect the final outcomes.

The bottom line is that you must consider every option’s pros and cons. Before choosing an option, factor in your teen’s preferences and other factors such as location and logistics. Ultimately, select the therapy format that aligns with your teen’s specific needs.

Evaluate Therapy Goals and Methods

In choosing therapy for your depressed teenager, it is important to evaluate the goals and methods of every approach. Understanding how different therapeutic methods work and setting realistic expectations can help you make informed decisions. Since we have addressed the various types of therapies and methods, we will provide some key considerations when evaluating therapy goals and setting realistic expectations.

  • Therapy may take time, depending on the severity of your teen’s depression and their progress. Therefore, do not expect a quick fix; have realistic expectations about the duration and final outcomes.
  • Be patient and embrace perseverance. Encourage your teen to do the same and focus on their progress instead of immediate results.
  • Collaborate with your teen and their therapist to set clear and measurable therapy goals. Ensure the goals are tailored to your teen’s unique needs and circumstances of depression. Prioritize the goals and begin with those related to immediate concerns while factoring in long-term ones for sustained recovery.
  • Learn about how therapy works and know what to expect. Discuss with your teen’s therapist the approximate period of treatment, frequency, and how you can manage challenges and relapse.
  • Remain open and flexible to adjust the therapy goals and methods as needed to ensure effective treatment of your teen’s depression. There is no one-size-fits-all solution in therapy for depression, so work together with your teen and their therapist to find what works for your teen.
  • Understand the significance of having a comprehensive approach to treatment, which entails therapy and other interventions like lifestyle changes, medication, and continuous support for sustained recovery and relapse prevention.
  • Celebrate your teen’s progress and accomplishments, even small ones, throughout the treatment process.
  • Finally, maintain an open communication channel with your teen and their therapist. Additionally, look for additional support from educational resources, community support groups, or peer groups to ensure your teen receives ongoing support for relapse prevention.

Accessibility and Location

To ensure consistent attendance and engagement in treating your teen’s depression, select a therapy option accessible in your region. Accessibility entails factors like the proximity of your home to the therapy facility, availability of transport, and the opportunity for flexibility in scheduling appointments. Selecting a therapy facility located in a convenient place will remove any obstacles, enabling you and your teen to attend therapy sessions more regularly.

But even as you consider accessibility, you must balance convenience and the desired quality of therapy. Although a therapist may be conveniently located closer to your home, you must also ensure that they have the necessary qualifications and expertise to treat your teen’s depression effectively. Therefore, don’t compromise professionalism and the standard for quality over convenience.

Insurance and Cost

Getting around insurance coverage for teen mental health can be challenging, but it is necessary as it allows affordable access to therapy services for your depressed teen. Begin by consulting your insurance provider to determine if your coverage includes your teen’s mental health services and, if not, whether they can be added to the plan. Also, check if co-payments, deductibles, or out-of-pocket expenses are available.

Consider the following strategies to find a cost-effective therapy option while still ensuring quality:

  • Find a therapy facility that accepts insurance or slicing-scale fees calculated on income. Don’t forget to verify your insurance with us.
  • Look for Teen Mental health centers, non-profit organizations, or community groups that provide low-cost or free therapy sessions for depressed teens.
  • Discuss payment options and available financial assistance programs with the potential therapist to see if you can find a budget that won’t sacrifice the therapy quality.

Cultural and Linguistic Considerations

Culture shapes how your teen perceives and expresses their emotions and beliefs about mental health and depression treatment specifically. Language, on the other hand, determines how your teen communicates and builds a rapport with the therapist. Culture also determines your teen’s preferences and comfort with certain types and methods of therapy. A therapist that respects and incorporates cultural beliefs and values in the therapy approach will most likely provide effective treatment to your teen. You should select a therapist who is culturally competent and understands your teen’s culture. Involving your teen in the selection process could help at this stage.

Additionally, ensure that there is no language barrier between your teen and the therapist or between you and your teen’s therapist. It is best when the therapist speaks the same language as you and your teenager. This will allow your teen to express themselves comfortably, and the therapist gets the accurate message to offer effective treatment. Also, ensure the therapist actively listens to your teen and validates their feelings. A judgmental and dismissive therapist could create obstacles to effective communication. The therapist should understand your teen’s maturity and use appropriate language.

Check for Emergency Support and Resources

You must ensure that your depressed teen has access to immediate and ongoing support and relevant resources in case of an emergency or a crisis outside therapy sessions. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Ask and obtain the therapist’s contact or the facility’s emergency contact for after-hours support. This will help you reach your teen’s therapist or facility when the office is closed.
  • Discuss with the therapist or facility about their emergency and crisis protocols and procedures, if any. Ask how they deal with emergencies such as self-harm or suicidal ideation and whether they have an experienced team to respond promptly in such circumstances.
  • Additionally, you can look for support groups, local crisis hotlines, or other community resources that offer immediate assistance to depressed teenagers in case of emergency or crisis.
  • Finally, establish a supportive family network at home that guarantees your depressed teen support during an emergency. Teach your family members the signs of an emergency and how to respond promptly without causing further harm.

Seek Recommendations and Reviews

Another effective way to find a trusted and qualified therapist for your teenager is by seeking recommendations and looking at reviews from different networks and resources. Here’s a look at how you can go about this:

  • Ask other parents, a pediatrician, or your teen’s school counselor about the best therapists or therapy facilities for depressed teens. They can provide you with invaluable insights and practical advice to make more informed decisions.
  • Check online platforms and communities for reviews and comments on therapists and therapy facilities. You can also search for therapists online and see whether they have positive reviews. Focus on testimonials from previous clients and look at their success rates or track records.
  • Join online communities or local support groups of parents with depressed teenagers. These resources often share their experiences with various therapists and recommendations that can help you make more informed decisions.
  • Finally, consult with professionals such as Nexus Teen Academy to find the best therapist for your teen. After a comprehensive assessment, Nexus Teen Academy will recommend the best therapy method and format for your teenager. We also have qualified psychiatrists in case your teen requires medication.

Initial Consultation and Assessment

Before you commit to a particular therapist, schedule an initial consultation and assessment. Here’s why initial consultation and evaluation is vital:

  • This stage enables the professionals to evaluate the severity of your teen’s depressive condition and determine the best-personalized treatment approach. 
  • It also allows you to assess the compatibility between your teen and the therapist. Ensure your teen is open and comfortable around the therapist before you commit.
  • Initial consultation also allows your teen to build rapport and trust with the therapist in a safe, non-threatening setting. You can establish whether your teen has a connection with the therapist at this stage.
  • This stage also allows you to assess the therapist’s competence. You can observe how the therapist communicates and relates with your teenager. Pay attention to the therapist’s understanding of your teen’s unique challenges, empathy, tone, and language.
  • It also allows you to consult and understand the therapist’s approach to treatment. This will help you determine whether their therapy model aligns with your teen’s unique needs and preferences. Ask the therapist questions about the therapeutic techniques they prefer, their pros and cons, and why they are the best for your teen.
  • This is also the stage where you ask about any questions, doubts, or concerns you have. Ask about the payment options, logistical details, emergency protocols, etc.

If you want to enroll your depressed teen in therapy, schedule a consultation with us today!

Making the Decision

After considering all the factors above, now you have to decide. But making the ultimate decision is not that simple; it can also be challenging, especially when you are left with many options. To lessen the burden, we have selected some key considerations for you:

Weighing Your Options

The checklist we have provided above will help you compare the different therapy options available before you make the final decision. We reiterate that you must keep the above factors in mind as you decide. Now, to compare different therapies, look for reputable centers or lists of therapists online. You can also read books, newspapers, or dailies on the best therapists and treatment centers for depressed teens. Also, check your government’s database for accredited and licensed therapists and treatment centers.

Once you have a list of potential therapists and treatment centers, check for further resources on reviews and comments about their competencies and experience in dealing with depressed teens. Again, you can ask other parents about the potential therapists and treatment centers and whether they can help you choose from your list. Ultimately, ensure you settle on a therapist or treatment center that effectively addresses your teen’s unique needs and preferences.

Involving Your Teen

This final decision-making process will be much easier if you involve your teenager. Engaging your teen in major decision-making about their treatment will give them a sense of ownership and motivate them to seek help. Initiate and maintain open and nonjudgmental conversations with your teen about their condition, preferences, interests, cultural beliefs, and values. Ask them how they feel about therapy and what they expect. Assure your teenager of your continuous support throughout the treatment. Involving your teen in decision-making will help you make more informed decisions and ensure optimal outcomes.


As we wrap it up, our final stand is that finding the most suitable therapy for your adolescent can be challenging. However, using the checklist above will lessen the effort and save time and resources. From the recognition of the signs to the final decision-making process, each of the factors discussed above is key to ensuring personalized treatment and ongoing support for your depressed teenager. It is now your time to take a proactive step and select the best therapy for your teenager. However, if you need further support or guidance, don’t hesitate to contact Nexus Teen Academy. We bring hands-on experience and expertise not only in selecting the best therapy for your teen but also in treating your teen’s depression for sustained recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

To choose between individual and group therapy, consider your teen’s preferences, personality, and comfortability in sharing their experiences. Individual therapy may be the way to go if your teen is more introverted and shies from sharing their experiences. But if your teen is more social and enjoys sharing with others, group therapy may be your best bet.

Check the accessible database of professional bodies to see if your potential therapist is licensed and accredited. Also, research on the therapist’s experience in dealing with depressed teens, including their period of expertise and caseload related to depression treatment. Check if they have specialized training or certification in therapy for teen depression.

Initiate an open and honest discussion about your teen’s feelings, concerns, and thoughts about therapy.

  • Listen to depressed teen actively while validating their emotions, even if you do not agree with them.
  • Encourage your teen to ask any questions they may have.
  • Research the most appropriate treatment centers and best therapists together with your teen.
  • Attend initial consultation and assessment with your teen.
  • You can also attend family therapy sessions with your teenager.
author avatar