Adolescence can be one of the most challenging times to go through. It is a period of significant changes and growth, where a young person learns more about who they are and what they want to be in this world. Many transitions can be challenging, and teens and pre-teens often struggle with how to deal with new situations. At the same time, parents may become frustrated, worried, and even exasperated when they are not able to help or get through to their child.
If your teen or pre-teen is going through any of these challenges, they can benefit from teen therapy.
Signs & Symptoms
Some common issues adolescents and pre- adolescents can face include:
Family discord or fighting
Academic challenges, bad grades, or achieving under potential
Not getting along with parents or siblings
Anxiety, stress, and social anxiety
Loss of a loved one
Sexual identity exploration
Romantic or friend breakups
College transitions including applying, selecting, and moving away to college
Anxiety and depression are uniquely experienced for each individual. Because the human brain is not fully developed until the mid-20’s, the way that children and teens express feelings of distress may look different than adults. Given that their brains are still forming, younger people have less language for or capacity to identify how they are feeling. This can be frustrating or even frightening, especially if the adults in their life don’t know how or aren’t able to help.
Younger individuals frequently have more physical, rather than psychological, symptoms. Additionally, irritability is often common, which can escalate to behavioral problems, including acting out or defiance. Depression and anxiety in teens may also be reflected in changes in school performance or social engagement.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 1 in 3 teen will be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Likely explanations for this include academic pressures, social media and social comparisons, and the threat the world's dangers. Most simply, being a teenager is hard and even high functioning teens can experience stress and anxiety. Sometimes teenagers are able to articulate their worries, however, oftentimes, adolescents' anxiety symptoms include irritability, anger, fatigue, procrastination, and somatic complaints such as stomach aches. Depression and anxiety also might also impact your child's school performance and engagement.
Teenagers going through a process called individuation, which involves coming into their own as individuals and distinguishing themselves from others around them. Not surprisingly, this can lead to strain on relationship, especially family dynamics. As teens learn more about themselves and their unique identity, there can be tension between parents and children. Teens also may rely heavily on peers to deal with personal problems, which can strain friendships. Relationships can be a difficult water to navigate for both teens and parents and therapy may provide better understanding and solutions that can lead to better functioning dynamics.
Striving for their own voice and place in this world may make it difficult for younger people to open up to parents or other adults about what they are facing. Therapy for teens provides a safe and comfortable environment to gain insight into what the young person is going through. Adolescents often need guidance in learning how to make decisions for themselves, rather than directives and advice. For this reason, it is often helpful for therapy to be a place of exploration and discovery, free of judgment.
Teen therapy might also involve providing direct assistance to parents and/or family members. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, in collaboration with the family and taking into consideration what is best for the teen. The goal is for all members to feel supported and respected.
As a child psychology specialist, I have extensive experience and success working with teens and pre-teens. I have worked both in the school systems and private practice and bring enthusiasm, humor, and the highest regard to this work. In my Orange County and San Diego offices or online, I take great joy in connecting to young individuals in authentic ways. I take pride in helping adolescents navigate issues while also assisting parents in understanding their child in a more complete way. My goal is to form a strong bond with the teens and pre-teens, so that we can face obstacles together, while learning new ways of coping and gaining more knowledge of self in the process. I specialize specifically in working with girls focus on assisting young women and girls discover their strengths and form a strong identity, so that the world begins to feel less daunting, and they find their own unique place in society.