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Express don't suppress

Have you ever seen a quirky-looking teenager walking next to his or her normally dressed parent and then you notice the look of disgust or embarrassment on the parent’s face? This adolescent might be a male with painted nails, a female with a partly shaved head, or either gender sporting a multiple colored hairdo and abrupt looking clothing. When you see this young adult do you blame the parent, feel sorry for him or her, wonder about how troublesome the situation really is or perhaps you just feel concern in general?

It is healthy to express, encourage it!
Photo provided to Lifetime Art Impressions, LLC

What about an adolescent who is with an adult but you can tell this young person seems defeated as you glance at his or her glazed eyes and see an individual without spirit? This parent may seem in control and the young adult just follows his or her parental lead but this individual seems soulless.

Which might a counselor be more concerned about?

Of course, in either situation there may be underlying issues that are not summed up from a quick glance at a stranger but what sticks out like a sore thumb to someone who is in the counseling profession is the person who isn’t feeling.

A teenager or even an adult who has an out of the ordinary outer appearance, perhaps he or she going through a gothic phase, (although this may be uncomfortable for those who love this individual) this person is feeling something and coping with it through their visual self expression. Be happy they found an outlet.

Someone who seems lifeless and shutdown, doesn’t push back or have a voice, is likely to be an individual who doesn’t see a value in his or her life. This portrays major signs of depression and with depression comes suicidal tendency; this can be a life or death situation.

Whatever this adolescent is going through or has gone through is being suppressed; pushed down and not processed instead of being expressed and released. This person needs therapy in order to uncover the pain, face it and unblock its toxic hold. If I saw this I would politely talk to this young adult to see if he or she is responsive. If not, I would offer support information to both the individual and parent. I would talk about the national epidemic of teen depression. Yes, this may seem pushy but it is still worth a shot and, even though my inquiry or couple minute discussion may be unwelcomed, it might surface a discussion between the parent and the adolescent and plant a seed of concern. Of course, if this pair were walking into my counseling office asking for help we would strategize a course for healing but in a public setting when help isn’t asked for, it is a stickier situation.

Perhaps you should raise an eyebrow if friends and family exhibit odd behavior such as dressing funny, or even feeling angry or sad but if they are feeling or expressing, it is a good thing. It is a way they are coping with hardship. Be supportive.

If you see someone who isn’t feeling or expressing, he or she is numb to life; be concerned and reach out. Support them in getting help. Offer them a lifeline; get involved and extend your hand, it may save their life!

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