Are you seeing changes in your teen that you find concerning?
Is your teen suffering from anxiety or depression and you don’t know how to help them?
Do talks with your teen frequently turn into an argument or you only get 2-word answers?
Is your teen struggling with feeling like they don’t fit in?
Adolescence can be a difficult time for both teens and parents. Teens can struggle between a need for autonomy and a strong desire to belong. Relationship with friends become their primary focus. Parents are often worried and confused about changes their teens are going through, and may find it difficult to distinguish between normal adolescent behaviors and recognizing when something is truly wrong. Teen counseling can help.
What is it like to be a teenager today?
Being a teenager now is somewhat different than when we were growing up. While many of us would not want to go back and relive the pains of our adolescence, things have been kicked up a notch for this generation. The demands of school and the level of homework is greater than it was for us. The intensity of competitive sports and multiple extracurricular activities can create high expectations and pressure to perform. Social life is more difficult with the creation of social media including cyber-bullying and body image comparing. Peer pressure starts earlier to be sexual and explore taboos like drugs and alcohol. Then add to that puberty, problems at home, and life changes due to a divorce, blending families, or other major events.
Fear and worry are natural responses to stressful situations. For teens, it can be healthy to feel a bit of anxiety when preparing for a test or getting ready for a big game. Anxiety becomes a problem when it becomes a chronic state when there is no pressure or threat triggering it. Did you know that nearly one in three kids between the ages of 13 to 18 now meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder?
Two common types of anxiety in teens
There are 2 forms anxiety that often show up in adolescents: academic anxiety and social anxiety.
Academic anxiety is usually adult driven. High performance focus from well-intentioned parents and teachers can create a pressure to perform. For example, it can feel like every test grade has the potential of ruining their chance of getting in to a good college.
Social anxiety is peer driven. The struggle to fit in and be accepted. Anxious teens can scrutinize everything they say or how they look in fear of being judged and/or rejected.
Both academic and social anxiety can negatively affect self-esteem. A teen with low self-esteem will likely have negative thoughts about their worth and value as a person. They tend to avoid situations where they think there’s risk of failure, embarrassment or making mistakes.
Depression affects teenagers far more often than many of us realize. 32% of teens report persistent feelings of sadness or loneliness. In fact, it’s estimated that one in five adolescents will suffer from depression at some point during their teen years.
While occasional bad moods or acting out is to be expected during the teenage years, depression is something different. The negative effects of teenage depression go far beyond occasionally feeling down. Depression can change your teen’s personality, causing an overwhelming sense of sadness, despair, or anger. Many unhealthy behaviors or attitudes in teenagers can be indications of depression.
Teen depression often looks different than depression adults experience. It may not show up as sadness. Your teen may be more irritability and anger, or isolate in their rooms.
Some signs and symptoms of teen depression:
Irritability, anger, or hostility
Withdrawal from friends and family
Loss of interest in activities
Poor school performance
Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
If you suspect that your teen is depressed, bring up your concerns in a loving, non-judgmental way. Even if you’re unsure that depression is the issue, the troublesome behaviors and emotions you’re seeing may be signs of a problem that should be addressed.
How a teen counselor can help
Having support and guidance from a teen counselor through these challenging times can be beneficial for your teen. It is important for teens to have a safe place and person to voice their concerns and feelings with. Exploring their internal struggles and growing a healthy self-esteem is vital.
I will help them develop a broader understanding of the challenges they are going through that will make sense. I will teach them effective ways to approach situations, to be able to connect with their emotions without dysregulating, and be able to express themselves in healthy ways.
What if my teen doesn’t want to do therapy?
Some teenagers are concerned that a therapist will be just another adult telling them how they are the problem. Talking about some of the potential benefits for them to have someone to talk to that will hold their time together as sacred and confidential and truly listen can help ease those concerns. You, as the parent, can trust if there is a serious concern for safety that is revealed in a session, you will be informed.
Letting your teen be a part of the therapist selection process can be helpful as well. Also, letting them know that they can use the sessions to talk about whatever is important to them.
What if getting my teen to a session with my work schedule is hard?
Taking time off from work to get your teen to appointments can be challenging. Also, trying to coordinate other scheduling demands like extra-curricular activities and other family members needs can be difficult. The good news is I do online sessions as well as in-person. So, if it is easier for your teen to meet with me online to eliminate driving issues, I am happy to accommodate that.
If your teen and you are on the same page about starting teen counseling, feel free to contact me to talk about the first steps.
Darleen has helped me to learn how to trust myself and my instincts. Through our visits, I have learned to honor myself and my beliefs without being hurtful to the people around me. I feel like I am stronger and happier and more fun to be around. I love who I am!