Adolescence is the period of transition between childhood and adulthood. Think of adolescence as the “Hanging Bridge of Transition”. Adolescents enter this bridge and stage of transition when puberty starts. This stage is often marked with resistance and emotional upheaval, both for parents and adolescent, because they are being forced to let go of something that they are comfortable and familiar with.
At this stage, adults and adolescent, may experience these emotions:
- A sense of loss
Adults and adolescents have to accept that something is ending before they can begin to accept the transformation. If you don’t acknowledge the emotions that people are going through, you’ll likely encounter resistance throughout the entire change process.
Children who are entering adolescence are going through many changes, and it is weird for everyone involved. The journey on this bridge of transformation is tied to physical, neurological, social, emotional, spiritual, and moral factors and can be somewhat ambiguous. As teens grow, they are continually in the process of developing the social skills and emotional intelligence necessary to lead healthy, happy lives. If they experience emotions or engage in behaviours that interfere with their happiness and ability to thrive, they may benefit from meeting with a therapist.
Adolescence is an important period in development, as it is the time in which we develop our identities – who we are, who you are and who am I in relationship to you. In this phase adolescents become more independent, push boundaries and begin to form identities based on experimentation with new behaviours and roles. Puberty usually occurs during this stage, bringing with it a host of physical and emotional changes. Changes during these often-volatile adolescent years may strain parent-adolescent relationships, especially when new behaviours go beyond experimentation and cause problems at school or home, or if emotional highs and lows persist and lead to experiences such as anxiety or depression.
Does my teen need therapy?
“What is the difference between normal teen behaviours and behaviours that require professional assistance?”
Teens face day to day struggles with stress, grief, bullying, sadness, guilt, shame, feeling overwhelmed about their future, dating drama, gender identity issues, etc. It can be difficult to know when your teen is working though some of these issues in a healthy way or when they might need the help of an expert.
Here are SOME SIGNS that you may need to consult a therapist:
- Dramatic changes in their behaviours at school and/or at home that is affecting their performance and functioning.
- Avoiding activities they previously enjoyed, avoiding friends or social engagements.
- Excessive anger or irritability that is out of character.
- Anxiety that is affecting performance, sleeping, eating or mood.
- Self-destructive behaviours – such as cutting, drinking, drugs, risk taking or getting into fights.
- Talking about death or thinking about it often.
At the end of the day it is better to play it safe. If you are concerned about your teen consult a therapist. There is nothing to lose. Many teens actually enjoy seeing a therapist as it provides a safe space to talk and grow. By asking if they’d like see a therapist, you’re showing your teen that there’s no stigma or shame in trying counselling and asking for help.
Preparing your teen for therapy
Teens may feel uncomfortable, afraid, or ashamed about communicating their emotions to adults they do not know. If you are a parent or caregiver, these tips can help when talking to children about therapy and mental health treatment:
- Find a good time to talk and assure them that they are not in trouble.
- Listen actively.
- Take your child’s concerns, experiences, and emotions seriously.
- Try to be open, honest and relaxed.
- Talk about how common the issues they are experiencing may be.
- Explain that the role of a therapist is to provide help and support.
- Explain that a confidentiality agreement can be negotiated so that they feel they have a safe space to share details privately, while acknowledging that you will be alerted if there are any threats to their safety.
Problem stories we journey with
- Behavior difficulties.
- Career Choice.
- Eating Disorders.
- Emotional problems.
- Growth or exploration.
- Relationship trouble.
- Suicidal thought.