If you haven’t had a chance to read Agoraphobia in Teens Part I, click here.
Once you’ve realized your teenager has agoraphobia it’s time to work on correcting it. It is heartbreaking for parents to watch their children suffer with extreme anxiety. Their life has become so different from what you imagined for them. You’d always hoped they’d have friends to go out and do things with, they’d succeed in school, and they would be excited to take life on. Now they don’t want to leave the house, or if they do, they won’t do anything unfamiliar. They are easily overwhelmed by large crowds. They just don’t handle situations well when they fear they can’t escape. Sometimes this has stemmed from fear of having a panic attack out in public.
You have to get help for your teen. They need to talk with someone who knows how to work with them on taking steps towards facing their fear. Without meaning to, there’s a good chance you’ve given into their anxiety. When your teenager avoids a situation that causes them anxiety it provides temporary relief, but actually makes the overall problem grow.
It’s important to work with someone who understands teenagers, and is comfortable working with the dynamic between parents and their adolescent. Because agoraphobia is often best treated by starting with sessions in the home, having a therapist who is comfortable with online adolescent counseling sessions is essential. Your counselor has to be able to start exposing your teenager to their fear from a comfortable base. Teletherapy for teenagers (also referred to as Skype therapy for teens, online counseling for teens, and videoconferencing therapy) is a perfect way to accomplish this. The counseling is able to see your teen in your home. When needed, the therapist will have you help guide your teen through various interventions. This will help you learn how to work with your adolescent on their new skills throughout the week until the next session. Your teen’s therapist will then debrief with your child and help them regroup. Because your teen is in the comfort of his or her own home, settling back down is an easier process.
Also, many teenagers who are facing agoraphobia are very reticent to come into a therapy session in an office (If they want to go to the office, then great! This means they’re not afraid of all new situations, which is good news). This is because it’s out of their safety zone. They will resist getting the help they need because it requires them to leave their house and step outside the familiar. By seeing a therapist who does online sessions, your teenager will probably be more accepting of the idea of getting started in therapy.
The sooner they begin, the sooner everyone knows how to start feeling better. You get the joy of watching your teen grow and enjoy life again. Hopefully one day this nightmare called agoraphobia can come to an end.
Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT