Adolescent mental health is affected by many different factors.. These include academic pressures, peer challenges as well as family relationships. In this blog, we will discuss how online therapy can benefit adolescent mental health and empower youth to regain a strong sense of security and wellness. 

Redefining Adolescent Mental Health Support: The Rise of Online Therapy

Online therapy offers many advantages not seen with in-person treatment. Online therapy, which has also been referred to as teletherapy, allows individuals to access therapy sessions from a variety of secure digital platforms. It holds many benefits for adolescent mental health, which include:

  1. Accessibility and convenience: teens with OCD and anxiety will often find it convenient to meet within the comfort of their own home. This can help overcome one’s fear at the thought of entering a foreign building and opening up to a stranger face-to-face. Also, their home environment might be a place of triggers and this can allow for easy access to meaningful exposure therapy work during OCD therapy.
  2. Flexibility: Virtual therapy sessions also allow for services to take place easily after school without needing to rely on transportation. You also don’t need to count on anyone to get you to appointments or pick you up. Teens can also sometimes join sessions from a quiet room in school during a lunch hour or spare. None of this is possible if you need to go to an in person appointment. Teens are often balancing multiple demands between school, friends and extracurricular activities. Online therapy allows for regular sessions to take place despite all the daily responsibilities. 
  1. Family members can join: An important part of treatment for teens with anxiety and OCD is having a family member join. This can allow the family to learn essential skills and strategies that can help with treatment progression in between sessions. Family members can easily join from wherever they are during a virtual session. 
  1. Ease of using technology: Let’s face it, teens are great with technology! It is very easy as a teen to use any virtual platform that your therapist might have. Sometimes it can also be easier to write things in a chat (to begin with) when speaking about very difficult things. There are many different ways that technology can enhance the therapy that takes place for teens with anxiety and OCD. 

Innovations and Developments in Adolescent Online Therapy

Evidence within Canada has found that online therapy is effective for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and trauma. There are many creative ways that therapists can deliver therapy to adolescents during online treatment for OCD and anxiety.  

adolescent mental health and online therapy

Adolescent mental health carries its unique set of needs in treatment. Engaging with teens also requires different skills and competencies. When it comes to delivering treatment through online therapy platforms, many innovations are available to clinicians. Many secure video platforms are also extremely user friendly, which can help teens with OCD and anxiety. For example, video platforms might allow for interactive features, such as screen sharing, secure messaging and online chatting. Talking about difficult thoughts and feelings can be difficult, especially when you are doing it for the first time. Having the option to write something difficult in a chat during a session can allow therapists to use this as a springboard into a meaningful discussion.

Therapists can also incorporate aspects of multimedia to help explain therapeutic messages. Multimedia can also be used to guide present moment awareness work as well as engage in exposure and response prevention for OCD. In working with adolescents, therapists can also incorporate interactive games to help explain concepts and raise engagement. Body breaks can easily be taken within a shared virtual space. This might involve doing exercises together or walking up and down the stairs within one’s home. All of these strategies can be extremely helpful for younger adolescents or teens who might find it difficult to “talk” for a full therapy session. 

Owl Therapy is a platform that we use at Forward Thinking Psychological Services™. It is an excellent virtual secure platform and offers therapists the unique opportunity to securely message with teens and adolescents in between scheduled sessions. Teens often prefer texting to email and this feels like the next best thing that has been built into a secure therapy platform. Therapists can also use interactive worksheets during a session and then securely send them to an adolescent following the session. This is another innovation that can enhance treatment when delivered through an online therapy platform.

Navigating Online Therapy: Practical Tips for Teens and Parents

Our world is filled with exciting digital technology. Online therapy is one of the many valuable tools that can be accessed to improve adolescent mental health. In order for it to be carried out successfully, there can be important tips for teens and parents alike:

  1. Ensuring that your teen has access to a private and confidential space to carry out therapy sessions. Teens with OCD and anxiety want to know that the discussions that they have with their therapists are private and cannot be heard by others. This could involve setting up a white noise machine outside of their room during therapy so they feel more confident. They would also benefit from a comfortable set of headphones so they know that what their therapist is saying cannot be overheard by others. Creating a safe and secure environment is the first step in building an important therapeutic relationship.
  2. Allowing your teen to conduct therapy in a space that is free from distractions. What might this look like? Ideally your teen would engage in therapy without their phone present in their room and with all other tabs on their computer closed other than the secure online platform they are logging into. This might be a harder sell! But these ideas can definitely help to make the therapy session more valuable and engaging.
  3. Deciding on an appropriate role for parents within the therapeutic relationships. In Ontario, consent is related to capacity to consent and is not tied to a specific age. Therefore, a 14 year old adolescent with depression can engage in private and confidential therapy. Although it is very helpful for parents to be a part of the process, they must do so with the consent of the teen. This is a critical conversation to have with your teen and their therapist when therapy begins. However, there are limits to confidentiality when safety and harm might come into play. Parents and/or emergency contacts must be informed when an individual is at risk in terms of safety and harm to self or others. These must be reviewed by the therapist when treatment first begins. Having these conversations right at the beginning of therapy allows for everyone to know what their role is and how information will (or will not flow) between everyone.
  4. Having teens and parents decide together when parents can join a session. Of course parents do play a significant role in their teens’ lives. They are with their teens day in and day out. They hold valuable information that should be shared within the context of the therapeutic relationship, as allowed by the consenting adolescent. Parents are key players on the team. It is more about finding the balance that is expressed by the teen in terms of what might be helpful and what might not. Parents want to strive to maintain empathy towards their teen and provide a non-judgemental environment in which thoughts and feelings can be shared.
adolescent mental health and online therapy
  1. Learning the online platform together. It can be useful for both parents and teens to orient themselves to the secure teletherapy platform and technology that is available to them. At a minimum, you want to ensure there is a solid internet connection within the home and an understanding of key features for the platform to be used in a successful manner. Consider asking the therapist for any type of guide to the online therapy platform to allow your teen to get comfortable with it. Parents should also review this in order to lend support as is needed.

Future Trajectories: The Evolution of Online Therapy Models

Our world has evolved into one where digital connections are pervasive. This has created a significant impact on mental health as individuals can access far greater services across Canada. This has allowed for enhanced accessibility, flexibility and individualization of mental health care. Given the effectiveness of online therapy for adolescent mental health, we can feel confident in its delivery. 

We also want to acknowledge that there is still work to be done. It is essential that everyone has access to stable and secure internet and technology. It is also important to continuously improve concerns regarding privacy and safety. Nevertheless, we have learned the significant benefits of being able to offer online therapy for adolescent mental health. It is without a doubt that online therapy platforms will continue to improve, offering key features for youth engagement. 

Online therapy for adolescent mental health has an important place in the landscape of psychological services. As it continues to grow and expand, it offers teens accessible, inclusive and effective mental health care treatment. 

Where Can I Find One Therapy for Teens with OCD and Anxiety?

Does Forward Thinking Psychological Services™ offer online therapy for teens with OCD, anxiety and depression near me? We certainly do! We are delighted to have a team of clinicians who offer adolescent and teen mental health services across Canada. Our online therapy services are delivered in Ontario and BC. We work with teens with OCD and anxiety, depression and trauma. We hope you will contact us and learn more about our services!


DISCLAIMER: This content is meant for informational and educational purposes only. Only a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist can diagnose a mental health disorder. The content of this website is not meant to be a substitute for therapy. Visiting this website should not be considered to be equivalent to a relationship with FTPS. Mental health concerns should only be discussed in the context of providing professional services after the consent process has been completed with a qualified FTPS associate outside of our website.