Because adolescence is marked as a developmental period of discovering identity, you may see your teenager struggling with low self esteem. With a desire for growth and acting older, he or she may feel a sense of loss in letting go of what now may be considered by society as “childish” interests, activities, and relationships that once fostered his or her self-esteem. A drop in self esteem is also common towards the end of adolescence as your teenager is faced to stand on their own. This reality can feel overwhelming. Your teenager may find difficulty finding the motivation to be independent and consequently feel disappointed. Your teen's therapist will assist your teen in finding ways to express the challenges of adolescence, learn healthy communication skills, develop healthy coping skills, and help him or her find interests and hobbies that bolster their self esteem and gain a sense of identity and purpose.
If you notice your teenager excessively and disproportionately worrying, particularly over something that he or she has no control over, your teen may be suffering from anxiety. Commonly, these worries are tied with physical symptoms of upset stomach, fatigue, muscle aches, and headaches. Your teen may notice that excessive worries and physical symptoms manifest in particular areas of his or her life which can include social anxiety, test anxiety, repetitive behavior and rituals (OCD), and panic attacks, If left untreated, your teenager’s symptoms can lead to a decline in academic performance, missing school, and a loss of desire to participate in activities. Through various interventions like mindfulness, art therapy, games, and tension relaxation techniques, your therapist will help your teenager pin-point the roots of his or her anxiety, and develop strategies and coping skills to manage anxious thoughts and physical symptoms.
The changes (physically, emotionally, psychologically, and socially) during adolescence can often feel overwhelming and depleting. It is not uncommon for your teenager to experience symptoms of moodiness fluctuating from highs to lows. Your teenager's therapist can help your teen identify if he or she is experiencing depression. Symptoms of depression in adolescence include but are not limited to a drop in grades, withdrawal from social activities, loss of appetite or overeating, and difficulty sleeping. More severe symptoms include self-harm such as cutting, burning, picking, and suicide ideation. Your teenager's therapist can assist in identifying the underlying factors of his or her depression and implement various intervention techniques including mindfulness, art therapy, play therapy, and narrative counseling to relief symptoms. The therapist can also educate your teen on how to practice good "self care" and develop copping to skills to manage depressive symptoms for life at home and school.
Bullying is a common and serious issue among our children. Bullying can take many forms and affects all parties involved including those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, bullying is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.” Bullying can be apparent through physical actions or can be more discrete like exchanging words through gossip or through Internet and phones which consequently causes emotional damage. If your child/teen is being bullied, they are impacted both emotionally and psychologically. They may feel hurt, humiliated, exposed, or harassed. Bullying crosses over the line into harassment if your child is being bullied based on their sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity, sex, national origin, and other factors. Your child/teen’s therapist can provide a safe place for him/her to discuss the impact of bullying and help him/her devise ways to end bullying including ignoring the bully, using confrontation communication skills, notifying an administrator at school, and/or informing a parent. In handling bullying issues, your child/teen’s therapist takes safety as top priority. On the flip side, if you believe your child/teen is considered to be bullying others, his/her therapist can work on relational skills with peers and help develop empathy through various games and role play activities.
As your teenager starts to experience physical and hormonal changes due to adolescent development, he or she might experience discomfort with his/her body. Body image is both emotional and mental. Your teen could be struggling with body image when they have unpleasant, self-defeating thoughts, feelings, and images surrounding his/her body. Much of this dissatisfaction with the body is stemmed from social media, online, and the school/community life placing pressure to achieve the myth of the “perfect body.” Discontent with one’s body can also be derived from fixed thoughts of “I’m not good enough” or “There is something wrong with me” which can be associated with other mental health issues such as low self esteem, depression, and anxiety. Your teenager’s therapist will take the time to learn more about your teens thoughts and images regarding his/her body and lead your teen to replacing self-depleting thoughts and images with a healthier, positive outlook on the body and his/her overall well being.
The transition from high school to college is a major one. Some parents often feel fearful that their teen may not be fully prepared to make this leap. Your teenager’s therapist can assess your teenager for both strengths and areas of growth. Using a “client-centered” approach, the therapist will guide your teen in utilizing his or her strengths to be successful in the next chapter of his/her life building on aspirations for college and strengthening resilience to overcome challenges along the way. Topics covered may include organizational skills for work load and responsibilities, career exploration, handling pressure of school and social situations, and providing psycho-education and safety plans on issues such as alcohol/drug use and sex.
The end of a marriage can cause major disruptions in parenting. Parents may not be capable of providing the nurturance and support they once gave their child because much their attention and emotional energy is directed on the divorce and their own personal needs. Consequently, the child may feel a deprivation of parental love and support. Depending on the family dynamic, divorce or separation may be beneficial for both the child and parents. How well your child or teenager copes with divorce is reliant on several factors including the age of the child, temperament and resiliency of the child, social supports, and parental stability. Do not be surprised if behavioral issues arise with your child as this is often a manifestation of stress and frustration. You may see your child becoming defiant towards you and others or withdrawing. Your child or teen may not be able to fully understand the divorce. Your child/teen’s therapist can assist with providing family support facilitating open and clear communication to help your child/teen understand the separation. The therapist can then navigate ways to help your child/teen find strategies to fulfill the emotional needs that are not being met during this major family transition.