Why work with teenagers?
Usually referred by a family member, they arrive in the consulting room. Their most common issue is anger, closely followed by anxiety, stress and depression. All of these are symptoms and causes of other more serious issues such as self-injury, self-harm, eating disorders, abuse and addiction. All this at a time when they should be remembering the time as ‘the best years of their lives’, at least that’s what they said, back in the day!
Thesedays, the pressures of education, sociability, peers, body changes, brain development, puberty, the changing world, internet and information overloading are sometimes overwhelming and teens may benefit from a bit of extra TLC in the form of talking therapy. While this can be expensive, it is well worth it.
So how does the counselling help?
Many young clients benefit from an hour a week where they are the centre of attention; they are being heard and unconditionally accepted, without judgement or condemnation.
As a counsellor, it amazes me when a teenager tells their story and they state where their significant others are going wrong with them. They usually do this with a great deal of clarity, articulation and insight and they are actually ‘getting it’, when all those around them seem to be missing the point.
As adults, how many times do we dismiss the rantings and ravings of our teenage children as angst and unimportant? If we ever stopped to really listen to what they were actually saying, we could save ourselves a few bob and hoarse throats by counselling our kids ourselves and stop trying to shout them down. All that’s doing is highlighting our own perceived inadequacies to ourselves, or the fact that someone younger and less wise than ourselves is daring to suggest we might be failing as a parent in some way.
Young clients are allowed and encouraged to rant. They need to get it off their chest so that we can try to figure out how we can come out of scenarios with a sense of victory, instead of defeat.
Timing is difficult to predict, some stay for 12 weeks, others almost a year. It all depends on how much time it takes to build a trusting relationship and what the issues are.
Trust your teenage offspring. Listen to their arguments, be prepared to compromise with them a little, recognise them as ‘almost’ grown-ups, be open to their negotiations and you may well be surprised at what happens. If all that doesn’t work, then seek a good, well-experienced counsellor who just wants to help your young person get the best out of a difficult time of life!
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