Update: While COVID is in retreat and quarantine restrictions are lifting, we are still providing teletherapy and video chat therapy in addition to in-person therapy at our offices in Tribeca and Park Slope, Brooklyn. Perhaps the biggest legacy of the pandemic for our practice has been our increased ability to offer remote therapy, which we dedicated ourselves to at a time when fear and uncertainty were present not only for our patients but for us as therapists. Because of this, we find it meaningful to look back at this page that was written during that time:
Just Because Teens Are Often On Their Phones That Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Struggling With Self-Isolation: Teen Video Therapy Sessions Can Help
Teens live their lives online and this makes teens one of the groupings most suited for a transition to teen video therapy sessions. However despite the cliché of teens always seeming to be on their phones, teens’ need for in-person interaction is just as meaningful as for adults. As a result, some of the impact of the self-isolation during COVID-19 on teens might get missed.
While many teens are experts at connecting with friends online and over social media, some may not be, and like for many adults, they might need help learning to create some less-than-ideal social connections in this format. Web-based therapy for teens can be a way to not only help teens build a relationship online, in real time, with a remote therapist, but also find ways to maintain their IRL relationships or make new ones during COVID-19.
Helping Teens Get Closer With Family During Quarantine With Teletherapy And Video Chat Therapy
Part of what it means to accept this moment in quarantine is to accept that each of us are holed up with or bunkered down with whomever we are. In our teen video therapy, we see that as both a challenge and an opportunity. For teens, this most surely means they’re self-isolating with family. Spending a ton of time at home with their parents and siblings can lead to many predictable conflicts, including fights with parents and siblings.
Part of the work we’re doing in NYC web-based therapy with all ages is helping people not only accept, but see possibility in this moment. Families have a chance to be closer, and teens can both participate and benefit from that. Online teen therapy can help guide them through.
And at this moment as online therapists, we realize that it’s important not to be too precious about whether we’re doing remote therapy with a teen individually, a teen plus a sibling or a parent, or the whole family. Given the nature of the crisis, we may end up organizing various combinations based on the need (though this often happens in therapy for teens, whether in-person, phone therapy sessions or video conferencing therapy sessions, when not in a pandemic).
Though Staying At Home, Teens Also Need Privacy–For Themselves And In Their Romantic Relationships
Especially in smaller NYC apartments, we’re stressing to both parents and teens in our video conferencing therapy that sharing space in a way that supports privacy is critical. Parents need to go for walks during the day to allow teens to relax and vice versa (of course, when done safely with masks and appropriate social distancing).
In particular, teens need to be supported by their parents in having privacy when video-conferencing, especially with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Teens’ romantic relationships tend to not be taken seriously as “real” relationships (this can be said at times of many of their friendships), but they are. Just as there are adults who are quarantining away from a romantic partner, so too are nearly all teens. Not only do teens need privacy around this, but they also need to simply have the difficulty be validated that they can’t see their boyfriend or girlfriend for quite some time.
Teens Can Feel Resentful About Quarantine: Helping Teens Understand They Have To Comply To Safety Restrictions In Video Teen Therapy
Under normal, non-quarantine circumstances, there is a push and pull between adolescents and their parents about the balance between restrictions intended to keep them safe versus a need for increased freedom. COVID-19 and the stay-at-home order have upended that balance, creating extra pressure for parents and an appearance of extra restrictions for teens. Teens may feel resentful about the restrictions placed on them. And this is understandable–we are asking more of teens than ever.
This doesn’t mean though that they can ignore safety restrictions. Some teens who are still not compliant with safety regulations around COVID-19 are raising concerns for parents. For teens that aren’t following social distancing during the stay-at-home order in New York State, there are a series of interventions that can help in online teen therapy. First is a sort of ethical psycho-education, helping them understand that while they may be at low-risk for severe health complications from COVID-19, others in their households may be at higher risk, and further still, they may unknowingly affect others. Adolescence is a period of moral reckoning–a time when teens are tasked with making increasingly high-stakes decisions about how they live their lives, including the moral consequences of their actions.