Adolescent & Teen Therapy

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Issues specific to this age and stage of life include

  • The struggle for independence, yet remaining attached to parents;
  • Substance exposure, experimentation, and addiction;
  • Peer pressure issues related to sexuality, bullying, media, risk taking behaviors, school issues, etc.

In an attempt to cope with these issues, teens may suffer from depression, anxiety, mood fluctuation, irritability, and reactive behaviors.  As a parent you ask yourself, “Who is this kid, and where did they come from?”  As an adolescent or teen, you may also be struggling with your own identity and path in life.

The natural process in which adolescents and teens develop their independence and identity can surface in many ways.  Sometimes it is a positive challenge, such as taking more difficult classes in school, starting or becoming  more competitive in a sport, or trying a new instrument, but it can also include getting involved in dramatic and unhealthy peer or romantic relationships, trying the newest drug on the street or in the medicine cabinet, or associating with exciting friends who are not the best influence.

As a parent, the task at this stage of life is not only to provide healthy boundaries and expectations while simultaneously keeping the lines of communication open, but to provide your teen with independence and the ability to make some difficult decisions and suffer natural consequences as well. Not easy tasks at all!

So how do you sort out when some of those lines are about to be or have been crossed, when the natural consequences are exposure to the darker elements of our society or, worse, juvenile hall, teen pregnancy, STDs, or school failure?  When do you step in, and how do you process the path that your teen is heading down?

It’s at this point that clinical support can be of assistance.  Actually, it’s probably before this point that therapy can be helpful to determine if what is going on with your teen is typical, natural, and less threatening than perhaps what you may think it is.

Adolescent and teen therapy typically involves individual therapy for the child and/or parent(s), inviting each other into sessions as necessary.  Therapy can work on lines of communication and provide some insight into how best to address behaviors that need addressing and how to let the less threatening ones slide a bit.  Within therapy, we can build a relationship and identify support that can likely have two outcomes where

  • The parent will feel empowered and aware of what they can control, such as setting limits, expectations, and consequences;
  • The adolescent or teen can identify some  similar aspects in their life, as well as develop and own the understanding that the choices they make now can have a life-long impact on subsequent opportunities and life choices.

If you have reached the point where things have gotten really serious and you need some significant clinical intervention, referrals to external agencies to assess substance use or underlying mental health issues that are motivating the high risk behaviors can be made.

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