Adolescence is an important time when children transition into adults. It includes the ages 12 to 24, although developmental changes may occur earlier. During this transitional period, children experience significant changes in their thought-processes, mood, and physical development. Many parents compare the teenage years to that of a toddler due to the rapid mood swings and angry outbursts teenagers display. Many parents find this time to be challenging as they struggle to understand their teenagers' needs while still enforcing necessary rules. Teenagers look forward to experiencing more freedom, but still need their parents' guidance. This is a time of change that requires growth in both the adolescent and the family. That's where I help.
Teen therapy is often a combination of individual therapy and family therapy.
Common issues I help my clients with:
During adolescence, teenagers become more involved in their peer groups and struggle to find their identity among their peers. Peer acceptance becomes very important to teenagers, therefore, friends heavily influence their behavior. It can be scary for parents to let their teenagers make their own decisions, especially considering the influences they face. As a parent, you want to protect your child. Teenagers are learning how to make good decisions and need to make mistakes in order to learn the consequences of their own decisions. This does not mean they are on their own; instead, they require parental guidance to help them discuss and process what their thoughts, feelings, and actions mean. Therapy is helpful in facilitating important conversations, making parent and teenager more comfortable talking about certain issues, including peer influence.
Some parents view bullying as a typical school experience teenagers face and are expected to get over. However, debate is growing among parents and teachers about how bullying should be handled. Bullying has received increasing attention in schools and the media as the negative effects become more apparent, including depression, suicide, and homicide. Many schools have implemented programs to address bullying from the perspectives of those involved, including the bullied, the bullier, parents, teachers, and peers witnessing the bullying. As previously mentioned, teenagers experience mood changes and are heavily influenced by their peers. Those factors combined with bullying result in a major impact on the way teenagers perceive themselves, and when a teenager is rejected, he or she feels worthless. Therapy helps families understand the impact bullying has on their teenagers and provides support as they decide how to respond, including working with school officials.
Teenagers face enormous pressures by their peers, their school, their family, and society at large. It is not uncommon for teenagers to doubt their abilities and worth when they are constantly being compared to their classmates, their siblings, and all other teenagers. Additionally, they are constantly receiving messages from media sources about how they should look and act and what they should be interested in. It is important for teenagers to receive praise and encouragement from their parents when they do something well. Teenagers also need to know that, despite not always being able to protect them from the consequences of the world, their parents will always love and support them. This may seem like a difficult thing to do when your teenager yells at you that you don't understand and wants to contradict everything you say. Therapy helps parents and teenagers learn how to communicate about the stressors that they experience, opening up a dialogue and bringing them closer together.
Adolescents experience chemical changes in their brains that alter their bodies and moods. They may experience mood swings, be more sensitive and reactive to what people say and do, and act impulsively. There are varying degrees of how an adolescent will respond to the physical and emotional changes he or she is going through. When teenagers learn unhealthy ways to deal with their emotions, it can cause added stress to the family. Teenagers are part of their family system, therefore, working with the family on how to respond to the changes helps the family grow together instead of viewing the teenager as an outsider who needs to be "straightened out." Teenagers may become very reactive to their parents because their parents have the most influence on them. How parents respond determines how the teenager will respond and vice versa. Therapy helps teenagers learn healthier ways of dealing with their emotions and helps families learn how to respond to their teenagers' needs.