What Type of Therapy is Best for a Teen with Depression?

What Type of Therapy is Best for a Teen with Depression?

Teen depression treatment often starts with therapy but may require hospitalization. In this image a mother hugs her daughter on a living room couch.

Depression is one of the most treatable mental disorders. When it comes to teen depression, treatment options range from one-on-one therapy to hospitalization. More than 80% of people diagnosed with depression respond well to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders that teens today struggle with. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly half of adolescents will struggle with a mental health disorder at some point in their lives.

At Embrace U, we offer adolescent mental health care in Brentwood to help children and teens lead healthier, happier lives. Whether you’re looking for teen depression treatment or struggling with another mental disorder, our team of compassionate mental health professionals is here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today to learn how we can help you lead a happier, healthier life. 

Types of Therapy For Managing Teen Depression 

Treatment for teen depression depends on the severity of symptoms and treatment goals. Teens experiencing suicidal ideation or who may be in danger of self-harm might need to start treatment in a hospital or residential program, and then step down into an outpatient program. Teens with depression may be placed on medications to help reduce their symptoms. Talk with your child’s mental health provider about the benefits and risks of medications as well as possible side effects.


Often referred to as counseling or talk therapy, psychotherapy is a general term for treating depression in teens. There are different types of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and group therapy. At Embrace U, our programs combine psychiatry with individual and group therapy, providing a full continuum of care. We also offer parent education, so psychotherapy strategies can be used at home and families learn how best to support their children as they recover from depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular type of therapy for depression. CBT is a type of psychotherapy that looks to identify a patient’s negative thinking or behaviors and change them to more positive thought patterns or behaviors. This can be helpful for teens with depression because, typically, their depressive thoughts can be so overwhelming and difficult to cope with that many teens may turn to unhealthy coping strategies to try and feel better.

CBT also involves learning healthy coping mechanisms to relieve your mental health condition. This may include your therapist asking your teen to journal to get their thoughts down on paper rather than letting ruminating negative self-talk take hold of their mind. 

Partial Hospitalization

When symptoms of teen depression are impacting a child’s ability to learn, such as school avoidance or social isolation, a partial hospitalization program (PHP) can be an effective treatment path. Children in a PHP can sleep at home, but spend significant time in a treatment setting, typically around five to six hours per day, five days a week. During treatment hours participants will engage in a variety of therapy sessions, including group therapy, which helps them understand they are not alone in their mental health journeys. PHP is a good option for adolescents who don’t pose a risk of harm to themselves or others, but need extra care to quickly and safely manage symptoms of depression.   

Intensive Outpatient Program

Children experiencing less severe symptoms of depression may benefit from an intensive outpatient program (IOP), which in most cases allows them to continue school and some extracurricular activities. Most IOPs consist of at least six hours of treatment each week, where participants engage in individual and group therapy. These programs help adolescents retain a sense of normalcy while providing a strong support network and fast development of coping and communication skills.   

Family Therapy 

Another sometimes overlooked type of therapy that is helpful for teens battling depression is family therapy. Teens need the support of their loved ones to lean on as they are learning how to manage their depression symptoms. Unfortunately, many teens with depression isolate themselves from the ones they love, which causes a strain between them and their family and friends. Family therapy provides a safe space for the teen to rebuild relationships that may have been strained because of their depression symptoms. 

Medication for Teen Depression

In certain circumstances, a psychiatric provider may prescribe a child medication as a treatment option for depression. Antidepressant medications can be an effective way to treat depression and anxiety in children and teens. The use of antidepressant drugs should be closely monitored because they can cause rare, but severe side effects. Be sure to review any potential risk factors with the doctor who prescribes your child’s medication. Many psychiatric providers will assess whether your child could have another mental health condition such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, substance misuse, bipolar disorder, or an anxiety disorder. They may also evaluate your family’s history of mental illness.

Navigating Treatment for Teen Depression

Although the above therapy options can be extremely helpful in managing a teen’s depression symptoms, they are by no means the only treatment options available to treat depression. 

Depending on the severity of your teen’s depression and how they respond to different treatments can impact which options may be most beneficial for their recovery. Plus, some teens struggling with severe depression may benefit from inpatient treatment, while teens with mild depression may benefit from receiving outpatient care. 

If you suspect your child may be struggling with depression, it’s important to seek professional support and get a proper diagnosis. This way you can then work towards getting your teen the professional treatment they need to effectively manage their depression symptoms. 

Help for Teen Depression

Now you know more about what type of therapy is most helpful for a teen with depression. It’s important to note that what may work for one teen suffering from depression may not work for another teen. Your child should receive an individualized treatment plan to best match their unique recovery needs.

Embrace U’s compassionate staff is here to help you find the tailored support your child needs to manage their mental health symptoms. Whether your teen is struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder, we’re here to help you every step of the way along your family’s road to recovery.

Contact us today to discover how we can help your family reconnect and find hope.


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