The teenage years are an amazing time of change, exploration, discovery, and self-expression. They are a time of great peer engagement and engagement with current cultural trends, coupled with an emerging desire to envision having an impact on the world. Combine this with the inevitable insecurities and academic stress that many teens experience, and the possibilities of a stress overload abound. Teens need to belong and find acceptance. They are learning how to develop and maintain meaningful relationships. They want to identify with their peers and desire to show independence from their parents, while secretly still needing parental reassurance and security. The balance between the desire for freedom and the continued need for guidance is very delicate.
About 25% of all teens experience significant anxiety, and about 20% experience depression. Modern culture places many expectations on this age group, without their having the autonomy and resources needed to respond to these challenges. The ability to think abstractly develops at widely different rates for different individuals, causing some teens to become concerned about their capacities. Learning differences make a greater impact as more demands for academic work are given. The pre-frontal cortex, which provides the foundation for executive functioning skills (decision making, planning, time management, juggling priorities, etc.) is not completely developed until the early 20’s.
Social relationships during the teen years often involve problematic interactions. Tweens and teens can be very judgmental and rejecting of each other, and bullying does occur. The impact of social media on teens is significant. Self-worth can be deeply impacted and highly volatile. Peer alliances may shift, and cliques can form and dissolve. Teens can easily be allured into sexting and overuse of video games.
I love working with teens to help them navigate these issues, strengthen self-esteem, and explore identity and values. It can be a very helpful time for an individual to have access to a trusted adult outside the family. I work in a way that protects teens’ confidentiality without compromising their safety. Some teens are ready to work face to face, as in adult therapy, and others are better able to talk when another activity is provided, such as a game. I work equally well with boys and girls.
I have worked successfully with teens who self-harm and have suicidal thoughts. I can help discover what is going on for your teen. Teens with current substance addictions or an eating disorder will be referred to specialists. Call for a free consultation, and you and your teen can soon be on the way to a more confident course through adolescence.