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5 Therapy Activities for Teens

therapist talking to teenage boy an explaining the 5 therapy activities for teens that are most effective

In today’s fast-paced world, teenagers face numerous challenges that can affect their mental health. As parents and caregivers, understanding these issues and knowing how to support them is paramount. One place to start is learning about common mental illnesses that affect teenagers, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and substance abuse. From there, understanding therapy activities for teens that are often part of professional therapy programs can be very beneficial.

Imagine Boise offers comprehensive teen and adolescent mental health services to residents of Boise, Idaho, and the surrounding area. Our experienced treatment specialists provide patients with activities for teen therapy that help improve mental health and enhance overall well-being.

Common Mental Health Concerns in Teenagers

Teenagers and adolescents have many sources of stress and even trauma in their lives. Teen therapy activities can be pivotal in ensuring that professional mental health treatment is effective. Some of the common mental illnesses diagnosed in teens include:


Depression is more than just feeling sad. It’s a mental illness that can disrupt daily life due to persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest, and lack of energy. Symptoms may include:

  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Causes are often multifaceted, involving genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.


Anxiety disorders involve excessive worry or fear. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep problems
  • Physical symptoms like rapid heart rate

The causes could be genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings from high (mania) to low (depression). Symptoms during a manic phase might include:

  • High energy
  • Reduced sleep
  • Risky behavior

During a depressive phase, they might include:

  • Low energy
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Loss of interest

Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the onset of this disorder.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders encompass conditions like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. They involve severe disturbances in eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. Causes are typically a mix of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse refers to the harmful use of substances like drugs and alcohol. It often coexists with other mental health conditions. Risk factors include a family history of substance abuse, mental health disorders, peer pressure, and lack of family involvement.

Common Therapies for Teens

There are a number of evidence-based and holistic approaches to treating mental health in teens and adolescents. Many of these incorporate activities for teen therapy, and  include the following:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps teens understand and change thought patterns that lead to harmful behaviors or feelings. It’s commonly used to treat conditions like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

Family Therapy

Family therapy involves the entire family and works on improving communication and resolving conflicts. It is particularly effective for substance abuse and eating disorders.

Trauma Therapy

Trauma therapy aims to help teens process and deal with traumatic events they may have experienced. It is helpful in treating conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT teaches coping skills to manage stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships. It is especially effective for teens with bipolar disorder.

Holistic Approaches

Holistic approaches like music therapy involve using creative outlets to help teens express their feelings and promote mental healing.

5 Therapy Activities for Teens

1. Journaling

Journaling provides a private space for teens to express their thoughts and feelings. Encourage your teen to write daily about their experiences, thoughts, and feelings.

2. Drawing/Painting

Drawing or painting allows teens to express their emotions visually. It can be therapeutic and promote relaxation.

3. Creative Writing

Creative writing encourages teens to narrate their thoughts and feelings through stories or poetry. It can enhance self-awareness and emotional expression.

4. Outdoor Activity

Outdoor activities like walking, cycling, or gardening can boost mood and reduce stress. Make it a family activity to strengthen your bond.

5. Meditation

Meditation promotes relaxation and mindfulness. Guide your teen to sit quietly, focus on their breath, and let go of negative thoughts.

Reach Out to Imagine Boise Today

Understanding and supporting teenagers with mental health conditions is challenging yet crucial. Remember, it’s okay to seek professional help when needed. With patience, love, and the right tools, you can guide your teen toward healthier coping mechanisms and brighter days ahead.

Let Imagine Boise help by offering comprehensive outpatient mental health services. Our customized treatment plans will ensure your child has targeted activities for teen therapy that bring about positive change and improved mental health and well-being. Call 888.597.2807 or reach out online today.