Life As A Teenager Can Be Full Of Expectations And Uncertainties

Though depression and anxiety are relatively common among children, teens develop these disorders at nearly twice the rate of children younger than 12. This is likely in part due to chemical changes and the fact that, as teens become more aware of their identity and exposed to the complexities of the world around them, they’re further subjected to difficult emotions and daily stressors. 

Moreover, the pressures surrounding academic performance have become more severe over the years. College admissions are becoming increasingly competitive, and with that comes a culture of comparison, perfectionism, and all-or-nothing thinking. Not to mention, technology has created an atmosphere where teens are constantly tuned in to social media, becoming self-critical upon seeing peers who are seemingly more accomplished or appear to have it all together. 

Unfortunately, comparison culture is not the only damaging result of our tech-obsessed society. Because so many of today’s teens have grown up without the primary mode of communication being live, face-to-face interaction, many of them find it hard to engage in the real world. Not only has such a lack created a disconnect from friends and family, but it has also altered teens’ perceptions of their emotions and interpersonal relationships. 

If you’re the parent of a teen, you may be concerned that the pressures associated with this time in life are wearing on your child. And if you’re a teen yourself, you may not fully comprehend how stress, anxiety, or depression have impacted your mindset and performance, and you may worry that something is wrong with you without fully appreciating how your brain is evolving right now. However, in therapy, you can begin to see that the experience you’re having is normal and that it’s possible to manage the stress and intense emotions that you’re feeling.

Is The Stress Of Being A Teen Creating Obstacles In Your Life?

    • Are you a teen who struggles with symptoms of anxiety or depression, including constant worry, despair, or thoughts of self-harm? 
    • Has the pressure to master academics, make good grades, and build a resume for college caused you to feel a lack of control of your path? 
    • Are issues in your family or your social circle creating distress in your daily life?

Maybe you don’t feel confident in yourself or your abilities. Perhaps you’re struggling to keep up with your peers or feel as though you’re constantly being compared to others. If this is the case, you may experience low self-esteem and have a negative body image. 

Perhaps you’re grappling with issues of your identity. Maybe questions about your race, faith, gender, or sexuality have surfaced, and you don’t know how to navigate or answer them. Or maybe you’re beginning to experience social pressures that have caused you to question your values.  

It could be that issues at home have created obstacles in your day-to-day life. You may have recently become aware of complicated family dynamics or problematic patterns emerging among your parents or siblings. On top of all the other stressors you face, you might be internalizing worries about things that used to only concern the adults around you, like money or marital issues. 

Alternatively, it could be that you’re the parent of a teen in need of counseling. Perhaps your teenage child has become anxious, sad, or withdrawn. It’s possible that they’re acting differently but you don’t know why. Or maybe you’re concerned about their performance in school or some of their choices when it comes to friends or extracurriculars. 

Whether you’re a parent of a teen or a teen yourself, it’s important to remember that this period of life is a very transitional one, full of change and self-determination. And though life might feel scary or unmanageable now, therapy can offer you the hope and skill set to face the future with confidence. 

Therapy Can Help You Navigate Life As A Teen

Though it may run contrary to what you think, life is not just one straight and narrow road; there are lots of paths you can take, and they may not always be direct or linear. Therapy can show you that it’s okay to be unsure or to change direction—especially during your teen years. In addition, exploring your thoughts, feelings, and emotions with a therapist gives you an opportunity to build a relationship with an empathetic and nonjudgmental adult who can offer you a meaningful perspective. 

We will start the process of teen therapy with both you and your parent/caretaker, getting a sense of how you want to move through it. You may feel the need to maintain therapy as your time and create boundaries to ensure that you’re feeling valued and understood during the course of teen counseling. Of course, our clinicians will be very clear on privacy policies, mandatory reporting, and your rights in therapy. And though we certainly value parental input, our ultimate concern is prioritizing your needs as a teen client. 

As you begin to establish a trusted relationship with your therapist, you’ll be empowered to explore your emotions, behaviors, and any distorted thoughts you’ve been experiencing as you gain more and more self-awareness. In addition, we may discuss elements of your past in order to get a sense of where certain expectations originated and how these pressures have influenced your self-beliefs. 

At Milestones Counseling, we employ a diverse group of therapists that use a wide range of evidence-based practices, insight-oriented therapies, motivational methods, and proven creative outlets for helping teens to regulate emotions and build self-confidence. We have seen teen therapy help our clients to:

  • Identify and address automatic thinking patterns that may be creating getting in the way
  • Make a connection between thoughts, behaviors, and outcomes
  • Develop insight and self-awareness to improve decision-making skills
  • Improve communication and relationship skills 

Because therapy is an opportunity to model and organize around difficult conversations, you will end the counseling process equipped with the lifelong skills you need to face the future with confidence. 

Our team has decades upon decades of combined experience, and we have seen our teen clients make huge strides in therapy, ultimately forging their own authentic path in life. The same can happen for you as you begin the process of setting more reasonable expectations for yourself. 

You can live more authentically and navigate your path in life based on who you are rather than who you think you should be—and it all begins with teen therapy at Milestones Counseling. 

Perhaps you’re a teen or the parent of a teen considering therapy, but you have some questions…

As a relatively inexperienced teen, I’m worried that I will have nothing to talk about in therapy. 

You certainly don’t need to come to therapy with an agenda. It’s our job as therapists to understand where you are on your journey and where you’re trying to go. We like to think of the therapeutic process as similar to peeling an onion—we will peel back layers little by little so that you can develop a more thorough and authentic understanding of yourself. And as we get more information about you, we’re better prepared to offer skills and guidance that are tailored to meet your needs and promote progress. 

Can I come with my teen to their therapy appointments?

Your participation in your teen’s therapy may not involve being present during counseling sessions. It’s very important that your teenage child has space that belongs to them so that they can feel safe and secure to explore their experiences without preconceived notions or expectations. While parental participation is determined on a case-by-case basis, all therapeutic decisions will be made by and with the teen client at the center. 

If I’m not present during teen counseling sessions, how will communication be handled between parent and therapist?  

Our person-centered approach puts the teen in the driver’s seat when it comes to developing a treatment plan and communication strategy. Though confidentiality is essential, there are, of course, certain things we are required to report to governing bodies (including suicidal or homicidal ideation and abuse). Our main priority, however, will always be the safety, empowerment, and well-being of your child. If something comes up during session that we think you should know about, your teen’s therapist might recommend a session with you to talk about concerns. We will not break confidentiality but this will help us gather important information. In some cases, a family therapy session may be recommended.

You Can Learn To Build Confidence And Manage Stress

If you’re a teen or the parent of a teen in need of gentle and individualized guidance, our team at Milestones Counseling specializes in therapy for clients ages 13 to 18. For more information about how we can help or to schedule an appointment, please use our contact form or call (443) 574 – 4295.

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