As a teen/young adult therapist, many of the young people that I have counseled struggle with a similar array of issues faced by adults; depression, anxiety, PTSD, struggles with parents. At this time of life, in this time in history, motivation plays a huge part in their struggles and successes, in part because they are living a “suspended” life, “in preparation” for things to come.
What makes life meaningful and successful for all of us? Awareness, understanding, commitment, hard work, hard play, strong and nurturing relationships all draw us into a successful future. Teens and young adults are confronting their own particular brand (individually and as a group) of these challenges.
Perhaps the most important element of communication with teens and young adults is not ANSWERS but specific QUESTIONS. If we provide too many answers, we close down the impulse to create on the part of the person. This spirit of co-creating meaningful solutions for each unique individual is a key element that repeatedly draws me as a therapist to work with teens and young adults.
Teens and young adults are remarkably insightful about the struggles they face.
Of course, as a teen/young adult therapist, I benefit from receiving the insight that parents can offer about their children. At the same time, I know that, given a chance, teens and young adults are remarkably insightful about the struggles they face. Young people also regularly demonstrate the many strengths that they all uniquely possess.
Issues addressed by my teen/young adult therapy and counseling practice include:
- Balancing the need to be unique and yet accepted members of a group of friends
- Managing often-overwhelming emotions (anger, depression, anxiety, fear, disappointment, regret, powerlessness).
- Conflicts with parents related to the common task of separating and becoming truly response-able for their own lives—we just need to support them and let them do it.
- Coping with making mistakes.
- Finding a safe and rewarding place among their friends, family, and the larger community.
- Managing and succeeding in their efforts at school and work.
- Gaining ground on the all-important task of knowing just who they are as a growing person (likes, dislikes, strengths, places to grow, unique abilities).
- Finding and knowing the passion (motivation) that ignites them to reach for success in every aspect of their lives.
- Experiencing and benefiting from the profound sense of gratitude that opens the door to an engaged life for all of us.
- Figuring out what they and their friends are going to do tonight.
In our culture, a difficult situation is imposed on us simply because we have so many choices, material, social, and emotional. I have noticed that most of us do not really honor the fact that because we have all these choices, we will inevitably experience a kind of loss of those things we can’t have. As I first heard so wisely from my grandfather 50 years ago, “You can have what you want but can have everything you want”. Tough choices have to be made. Teens and young adults often seem to experience this challenge to the extreme.
Exciting life experiences and raising my own sons
The many teens and young adults I have worked with over the years have made me painfully aware that they can be questioning whether I will really work together with them. Young people of each of the eras I have been through consistently felt that their desires, decisions, and thoughtfulness are of minor importance to others. They have taught me that, of course, this situation can leave them quite skeptical, unprepared, and often unwilling to deal with the challenges in front of them. Youth often feel that they just don’t matter. I recognize that I might be initially perceived as one of those that don’t value and respect them and therefore can be of little help in many of the challenges facing them.
All I can say is: Try me:-)
With most of my 52 years of practice including providing therapy for teens, and 11 years working in an acute psychiatric care setting while getting my doctorate at Berkeley, my broad and exciting life experience, and raising my own sons, I feel as though I might have something to offer just about everyone.
If you would like to explore therapy for teens with me, please give me a call at 415-383-9254.