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Anxious Teenagers Need Support

Whether you are a parent, teacher, coach, or therapist (like myself), you know dealing with a teenager on a regular basis can be a handful. It can also be extremely rewarding if they feel like they are being treated with care and respect.

I came across this article from the New York Times that discussed anxiety in teenagers and what could explain the difficulties they go through. Some readers cited our current popular culture as a culprit, with its loose morals and values, and our tendency to "infantalize...and isolate them from responsible adults." Others blamed things like over-medication, social media, and some even blamed the parents themselves for not raising children with proper boundaries.

The why part of teenagers becoming so oppositional, rebellious, anxious, or depressed is not nearly as important as the what now. Working with adolescents, as I have over the past several years in a therapeutic group setting, I can tell you that often they don't even know why they do the things they do, and it is frustrating for them to try to figure it out. As one wise reader from the above mentioned discussion shared about her own teenage daughter:

"It wasn't until she reached her mid-20's that she finally became comfortable with herself and her ability to manage her life."

What this tells us is that these teenagers need support, in whatever form they can get it. A lot of families don't think about therapy as a possible option, and a lot of teenagers will resist the idea at first. Speaking from experience, however, I can tell you that when teenagers are around peers experiencing similar life difficulties as themselves, it allows them to open up and get fresh perspectives they might not have considered before.

Therapy is by no means a cure-all, but it can be the first step for teenagers and their families struggling with life problems to start to figure them out in a safe supportive environment.