Adolescence is an incredibly important and vulnerable time in navigating the transition from childhood to adulthood. It’s the time when teens begin to think more critically about themselves and the world around them. This can be a particularly trying time not only for the individual teenager or adolescent, but for the family members responsible for their care as well. Psychotherapy can be helpful for young people because it offers them a safe place to talk about the varying issues they face in the midst of these overwhelming transitions. It allows them the opportunity to talk things over with a trusted adult so they can speak freely without shame, judgment, or concern that they will hurt their parent or caregiver’s feelings. Healthy adolescent development depends on youth feeling supported, respected, trusted, and inspired to become the healthy individuals they want to be. Counseling can do that by assisting in the adolescent process of differentiating themselves from their care givers in taking the first steps towards creating themselves as a budding adult.
My approach to counseling with teens is strengths-based. This means that I frequently encourage adolescents to incorporate their own creative outlets (i.e. music, art, personal writing, etc.) in our work together to help them express their thoughts and feelings in a therapeutically effective way.
I am skilled at working with teens and their families around issues of depression, anxiety, anger, self-esteem and self-destructive or unhealthy behaviors. The teens and adolescents I typically work tend to be going through the following, among others:
- Life Transitions: having a hard time adjusting to high school or college, or having a hard time with a sibling moving out or going to college
- Angst: anger, anxiety, restlessness, and nervousness
- Depression: overwhelming sadness and inner turmoil
- Parents getting divorced
- Grandparents passing away
- Shame: insecurities; feeling bad about themselves; thinking they’re stupid, worthless, or incapable.
- Self-injurious and risky behavior: cutting, substance use/abuse, running away, unsafe sexual practices, expressing very dark or concerning feelings or emotions
- Trauma: bullying, neglect or abuse
- Stress: excessive worrying about their future, perfectionism, feeling hopeless
- Relationship tension with siblings and other family members
Families often need support in navigating the teen years, as well. It can be hard for parents and caregivers to adjust to the changes their teen is going through. It can be challenging to be supportive while setting appropriate boundaries and limits. Family therapy can help teens and their caregivers develop a closer, more connected relationship and overcome communication difficulties. Counseling for teens can help them express themselves more effectively to their parents and help teens advocate more appropriately for their own needs.
I usually work with both teens and their families together at the very beginning of counseling, so that I can get the best picture of the issues from everyone’s point of view, especially the teen’s. Once this is done, and in consultation with the teen and his or her family, I determine the next stage of the treatment process, which is often individual work between the adolescent and myself.
The rest of the counseling is usually some combination of individual work and some family meetings that are usually focused around issues of communication, as well as goals and values discussions. This stage of the process is determined in collaboration with the teen and the family.
Please contact me at 510-329-8674 for a free 20-30 minute phone consultation to discuss your teenager or adolescent’s case. If throughout the conversation it seems like I would be a good fit for your child’s needs I would be happy to invite you and your teen in for an initial session at 50% off my going rate. The initial session will give you and your teen a chance to see how it feels to talk to me prior to committing to the work. For more information on my clinical approach please visit my about therapy page.