Specialty: Teen & Adolescent
Teens and adolescents have a wide array of characteristics and experiences that make them unique. To address the vast complexities experienced by teens and adolescents, counseling requires unique skills by the therapist. Counseling teenagers is different from traditional family counseling. A great deal of resistance may exist when working with teens. They may not want to voluntarily be involved in counseling and may even refuse to talk. Teenagers may be hesitant to trust the therapist. On the contrary, they may blindly trust an adult figure much too quickly. (This can result in unhealthy and unsafe attachments). As such, effective therapists know how to employ a variety of skills and strategies to help connect with teenagers while making them feel secure and trusted. Often, these skills extend far beyond simple talk therapy and utilize a variety of methods of communication including verbal, nonverbal, art, music, writing, and social media. Good therapists are able to help the teenager feel safe, heard, comfortable, and engaged.
Understanding Teen and Adolescent Complexities
Teenagers experience tremendous physical, developmental, academic, social, sexual, and intrapersonal challenges daily. Teens are in a unique phase of life where things are changing drastically. Significant development is occurring for them physically, mentally, and emotionally. They are transitioning internally and externally from a child into an adult. These changes may contribute to changes in their wellbeing and mental health. It would not be uncommon for teenagers to feel anxious, fearful, embarrassed, or uncomfortable talking about their overall wellbeing, especially when these changes are occurring so rapidly.
Scenario: Imagine if you woke up and your clothes didn’t fit, your body hurt, you felt confused, you were being picked on by your peers, and you had a headache. You would probably feel sad and depressed. Chances are that you would say and do some things that were awful, mean, cold-hearted, or withdrawn.
Scenario: Imagine that you feel like you don’t fit in, that no one gets you. People ignore you completely and your so-called “friends” make fun of you on Snap, Insta, and Tik Tok (social media bullying). People expect the world from you, and it feels like no matter what you do you’re a failure. It’s never good enough. Nobody hears you.
Unfortunately, these experiences are common for adolescents. Yet they are expected to have uncommon responses to them. Teen & Adolescent or Family Counseling can help families navigate these difficult and stressful circumstances.
Symptoms of Teen or Adolescent Mental Health Issues
- Complaints of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments, especially more frequently
- Isolating or withdrawing from family, friends, and activities
- Visible signs of distress, nervousness, crying, easily hurt feelings, and anger
- Visible changes in appearance including clothing/dress/attire, hair, piercings, etc.
- Visible or reported injuries (cuts, scratches, burns, piercings, bruises, abrasions,
- Increased lying or concealing of behaviors
- Substance use (legal/illegal drugs, prescriptions, alcohol, etc.)
- Avoidance of or breaking commitments or responsibilities suddenly and unexplainably
- Uncharacteristically poor performance and/or follow-through in school
- Damage to physical property
- Physical or verbal aggression to others
- Sudden changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Significant changes in friend/peer groups and/or social interests
- Any uncharacteristic changes in behavior, thoughts, or emotions
Myths & Facts about Teen & Adolescent Mental Health Issues
- It’s my fault my Teen or Adolescent is sick and has mental health issues.
- FACT: Many factors drive mental health issues, and it is usually not easy to isolate one specific “cause” for mental illness. One’s mental health results from numerous factors including but not limited to genetics, physical health & development, social environment, physical environment, education & social learning, and upbringing.
- Using Multisystemic Reciprocal Determinism (MRD), Behavioral Psychologist Dr. Ryan Kron can help you learn how one’s thoughts, behaviors, emotions, and the symptoms of mental health issues were developed and make sense.
- Therapy is a waste of time for Teens and Adolescents.
- FACT: Everyone can benefit from therapy and mental health improvement. Even a disengaged teen can benefit from counseling (Senderowitz et al., 2004).
- The Truism Center is dedicated to helping all people of every background live a happy, balanced, and truism-centered life. Find your therapist today!
- Mental health issues result from bad parents/caretakers or only result from bad “parenting.”
- FACT: A child’s mental health results from numerous factors that include, but are not limited to the child’s genetics, physical health & development, social environment, physical environment, education & social learning, and upbringing. Children with “bad” caretakers can grow up happy and healthy and children with the “best” caretakers can grow up unhappy and ill.
- Behavioral Psychologist Dr. Ryan Kron and The Truism Center offer help with family discord, family counseling, and parenting issues.
- Mental health issues are the result of some traumatic or horrific event (abuse, neglect, death).
- FACT: Mental health issues can arise from numerous experiences and do not have to be linked to one specific “cause” or event. They can develop slowly over time and may go unnoticed. Traumatic events pose serious risks to the mental health of the victim, but not every person who experiences a traumatic event suffers acute or chronic negative symptoms from it (Schore, 2001).
- FACT: Childhood trauma and maltreatment have been found to change the functional and structural development of the brain, impair the early development of the right brain’s stress coping systems, and negatively impact the development of secure attachments (Delima & Vimpani, 2011; Schore, 2001).
- Early treatment, intervention, and Teen & Adolescent or Family Counseling help!
- Mental health issues for a Teen or Adolescent are permanent and damage the child for life.
- FACT: Mental health issues during childhood are not permanent.
- Recovery is possible for teens and adolescents with mental health issues.
- Teens and Adolescents will outgrow a mental health disorder.
- Alcohol & drug use means my teenager has mental health issues.
- FACT: Drug and alcohol use among teens and adolescents is more likely to result from environmental issues than individual mental health issues (Ellis et al., 1997; Kirisci et al., 2007). However, mental health issues can contribute to teen drug and alcohol use.
- Medication is the only treatment for Teen & Adolescent mental health issues.
Bennett, E. D., Le, K., Lindahl, K., Wharton, S., & Weng Mak, T. (2017). Five out of the box techniques for encouraging teenagers to engage in counseling. Retrieved from VISTAS Online American Counselling Association Knowledge Center website: https://www. counseling. org/docs/default-source/vistas/encouraging-teenagers. pdf.
Brazie, R. (2018, October 15). Common myths about adolescent mental health and warning signs for parents. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/allthemoms/2018/10/15/common-myths-adolescent-mental-health/1280284002/
Delima, J., & Vimpani, G. (2011). The neurobiological effects of childhood maltreatment: An often overlooked narrative related to the long-term effects of early childhood trauma? Family Matters, (89), 42-52.
Ellis, D. A., Zucker, R. A., & Fitzgerald, H. E. (1997). The role of family influences in development and risk. Alcohol Health and Research World, 21(3), 218-226.
Kirisci, L., Tarter, R., Mezzich, A., & Vanyukov, M. (2007). Developmental trajectory classes in substance use disorder etiology. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 21(3), 287. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/0893-164X.21.3.287
Schore, A. N. (2001). The effects of early relational trauma on right brain development, affect regulation, and infant mental health. Infant Mental Health Journal: Official Publication of The World Association for Infant Mental Health, 22(1‐2), 201-269.
Senderowitz, J., Solter, C., & Hainsworth, G. (2004). Comprehensive reproductive health and family planning training curriculum. 16: Reproductive health services for adolescents. Watertown, MA: Pathfinder International.