By: Dr. Erica Wollerman
At Thrive, we love working with teens and young adults! There are so many reasons for this passion and I thought it might be helpful to share more about WHY teens and young adults benefit so much from therapy, rather than just sharing about why we love working with them so much! This post is especially geared towards parents whose young adult kids are not interested in sharing much more than one syllable comments with them. (PS, you are not alone, this is not at all uncommon as I will discuss below!)
The teen and young adult years are filled with so many exciting changes, including a huge growth in independence and interest in relationships outside of the immediate family. While for parents, this can be a difficult, tumultuous, and almost scary time, for teens, this is a time of amazing growth and development. Interestingly, while some teens and young adults stay connected emotionally with their parents and continue sharing information with them about the things they are experiencing, many others pull away from their parents. This is a normal part of the process of growing up and individuating away from our family of origin, but it can be difficult for parents who are used to being in the loop on what is going on for their kid.
I believe that if you are a parent of a teen or young adult who is growing in independence and no longer sharing information with you, it is dramatically helpful to have another adult in their life. Ideally, a therapist who can connect with them, build a relationship of trust, and who can help guide their personal development or at least help them think through their choices. As a therapist who works with teens and young adults all the time, I can’t tell you how often I hear the thought process behind their decisions and can then share my more adult based perspective, which helps them make more thought through decisions. While I can’t guarantee any certain outcome or that they will notengage in things you don’t want them to, I can say with a good amount of certainty that they are thinking more about what they are doing. This helps reduce the amount of recovery time from mistakes, and often the overall number of dramatic mistakes.
While many of the teens and young adults I work with have great judgment, many of them still struggle with impulse control and managing their reactions while feeling upset, emotional, or insecure. Working with a therapist that they trust, can help them cope differently and see situations from another person’s perspective. Often, my clients will tell me that while they don’t particularly love their parents’ decisions, they do understand them and know that they are helping them in the long run. It’s always interesting when my clients are able to reflect that they would probably do the same thing if they were the parent in any given situation. I’ve even had teens tell me they would probably be more strict or set other boundaries with their kids in the future!
Just like in toddlerhood, teenage and young adult years come with a certain level of parent resistance. It’s almost like they are “programmed” to disagree with you! Working with a therapist, is a great way to divert some of this. Since we are not their parents, our relationship with them does not carry the same emotionality or reactivity so they are often more receptive to our suggestions or thoughts. My clients often tell me that I don’t feel like another adult but a friend, big sister, or mentor. These relationships produce less resistance, which is super helpful in terms of my ability to make suggestions and provide support and guidance.
Another reason why I believe therapy should at least be offered to most teens and young adults is this... Being a teen or young adult can be really lonely. Especially if you are struggling with emotions, friends, relationships with your family, and feeling that you need to do things on your own. It can be a time when you feel that you have to do everything and don't really want advice from anyone else but where you also feel deep down that you have no idea what you are doing. I remember what this was like and though I would have resisted, would have loved to have an adult on my side!
While I know that my initial statement of "every teen or young adult" needs therapy, may seem dramatic, I really do believe that this is an age group that particularly benefits from therapy for the reasons I described above and honestly, many more! Given the fact that we practice therapy at our office from a place of growth, self-understanding, and compassion, we strive to help our clients feel at home and never to feel that we are saying something is "wrong" with them. This approach helps teens feel at home with us and that it is okay to seek support when you need it!
At Thrive, we take a positive, client centered approach to therapy that is focused on creating a genuine connection with our clients. If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are always welcome regarding any issues around child or teen psychotherapy services in San Diego by Thrive Therapy Studio.
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"Watch your thoughts,
They become words.
Watch your words,
They become actions.
Watch your actions,
They become habits.
Watch your habits,
They become character;
It becomes your destiny."