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What happened to my adorable teen?

Teenage years can be quite troublesome for most parents and teens. As teens enter this new stage in their development, many changes begin to occur. They seek independence and ask to be treated as grown-ups. However, many lack the maturity and skills to navigate through the difficult and complex emotions that they begin to experience. They don't know how to be heard in a way that parents can understand their message.

As their body begins to change due to the normal growth in adolescence, many issues related to self-acceptance, self-esteem and self-worth begin to emerge.

sad girl sitting holding knees on white couchDespite being surrounded by a loving and supportive family, many adolescents feel quite alone in this process. They feel misunderstood and unfairly sanctioned by their loved ones.

It is difficult for them to trust their feelings with their peers for fear of being labeled in a negative way, so many just keep the pain inside and suffer in silence.  As parents, you may begin to see changes take place such as becoming more irritable, isolating more and having trouble in their school performance, sports or other activities that they used to enjoy. It may seem that your wonderful child has turned into a troubled teen or even that he or she is just being “lazy”.  However, there is usually a bigger picture that is taking place in the background for them.

Why is it so hard for them?

Many of our teenagers are influenced heavily by social media and by the perception of how "perfect" they have to be specially compared to all of their peers seemingly "perfect" life. Teen depression is real, many find themselves in great despair and allow sadness that they feel to influence the decisions that they make. Many feel that nothing can help their sadness and they slowly begin to give up on themselves.

This is also a time in their lives where they begin to form romantic relationships.  The highs and lows of young love and all the uncertainty that it creates for them.  As a teen therapist, I find that this is one of the main issues that teenagers seek counseling for.  They find themselves in despair and unable to really make sense of their emotional life which in turn begins to override all other aspects of their lives. Their priorities become unclear and many can remain “stuck” in this place for weeks or months.

What should we as parents be looking out to help our teen?

Teen depression and social isolation are one of the most important issues that our affecting our teens in a daily basis.  As parents, we have to be quite vigilant and aware when we notice changes in their behavior. If you have noticed that your teenager has:

  • suddenly changed his/her group of friends
  • grades have dropped considerably and unusually
  • there is a change in the clothing they wear and how much they cover up their arms/legs
  • they have begun to isolate themselves and are no longer socializing with friends
  • they have stopped dreaming about the future and only talk about how "insignificant" they feel.

If you notice these changes, please give us a call.  Teenagers are not usually very good at communicating that they are struggling.  Many times, they don't want to feel that they are an added burden to their family.

How does teen counseling help?

a sexy happy young latina hispanic brunette woman or girl wearing shorts laughing sitting on the grass by a lake on a sunny summer dayTeen counseling helps them find their inner voice, to find a way to convey their message and they learn to practice this new way of communicating with their families and friends.

Counseling helps teenagers to really understand what is really underneath their turmoil and to process that pain in healthy ways. They also learn better ways to manage the intensity of their emotions and to allow healthier outlets for their pain. Counseling helps teenagers not to feel alone in the process. they learn that there are many teens just like them struggling with similar issues.

In my counseling with teens, I utilize a variety of techniques including Cognitive Behavioral (CBT), mindfulness, ACT (Acceptance and Commitment therapy) and many others to address their complex situations.

I reinforce with them that our therapeutic work is confidential.  This means that our discussions in sessions stay private unless they are in danger to themselves or others. Parents are always encouraged to share with me issues/concerns prior to the session. In cases where there is family turmoil, family counseling will always be recommended. However, I will make sure that your teenager is ready to engage in that process before we start. It is extremely important for counseling to be effective, that your teen feels they also have a voice in the process.

How do I survive my teenager?

Being a parent of a teenager in turmoil can be quite a daunting process.  It is often exhausting and frustrating. You are not alone in this process.  By seeking teen help, you are taking the first step to really understand the big picture behind your teen’s inner conflict. There is light at the end of the tunnel, it just may feel like quite a long tunnel ahead of you.

As a seasoned teen therapist, I am able to evaluate situations and figure out if this is just a phase that your teenager is going through or if there is a real more pressing issue that needs to be addressed.

Here are some of the common questions that most parents face when they bring up counseling to their teenagers:

What do I do if my teen refuses to go to counseling?

Most teens initially feel uncertain about going to counseling. They may feel that they are being labeled as “the problem”. We work hard with the teen to explain that they are part of the “communication problem or the family dynamic problem” and that one way to really understand what’s going on is to figure out what is really taking place in their lives, at home, at school and then as a united front we can clarify what the real issue is all about.

My teen tells me “what if no one can really help me?”

Many times, teens feel so alone in this process, they may feel like no one really understands how difficult it is to face all the uncertainty. They look to the grown-ups around them who seem to have it all figured out. In teen counseling, they learn that they are not alone and that many just like them have faced similar situations. They learn that their feelings, their worries and thoughts are important and that there are well-proven techniques to assist them in the process. Many times, just knowing that the interventions worked for other teens, seems to be the proof that they needed in order to really invest in the therapeutic work.

Therapy is just “dumb”.

Yes, I have heard this one more times that you can imagine. I understand that counseling is not for everyone. As such, families are encouraged to utilize teenage counseling services as a resource. However, if your teen is really against any kind of help, it may be appropriate to wait until he/she is ready for it or until the window of opportunity arises. Therapy only works when teens are open to it, otherwise, it may create an aversion to the process that may be unnecessary. In cases like this, I will absolutely work with the parents to improve their communication skills and enhance their understanding on how to best deal with their teenagers.

As a seasoned teen therapist, I am able to evaluate situations and figure out if this is just a phase that your teenager is going through or if there is a real more pressing issue that needs to be addressed.

I am here to help….call me with questions or concerns…(954)650-3561

I am here to help...

Call me with questions or concerns to schedule a 15 minute complimentary phone consultation.

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