Teenagers

Growth occurs when individuals confront problems, struggle to master them, and through that struggle develop new aspects of their skills, capacities, views about life. - Carl Rogers.

According to Dr Gordon Neufeld, the teenage years represent a time of bridging between the two different stages of childhood and adulthood.

A time of becoming an adult but still having the needs and psychology of a child. It is a time of turbulence and transition which is accompanied by alarm, sadness and aloneness. These feelings have been interpreted by our western culture as problematic, but according to Dr Neufeld, are simply rites of passage and a natural part of becoming a unique, separate person.

The challenge for the adolescent is to embrace the vulnerability that these feelings invite and to fill the void that is experienced as a result of this separation, with the self, one's own ideas and curiosities, with the emergent energy that springs from within.

 

However, the norm in western society today is to shut down to the vulnerability that is felt and therefore to one's own feelings and one's unique individuality.

 

The costs are significant and can play a part in some of the unhealthy behaviours that some teenager's might engage in, including drug and alcohol use, self harm and a lack of interest in life.

Through therapy the vulnerabilities experienced by teenagers can be normalised and the teenager invited to discover, explore and express their uniqueness. An opportunity to author their lives according to their desires, values and hopes and reunite with an interest and curiosity in life.

When working with teenagers I use an eclectic use of therapies including Narrative therapy, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness, Neuroscience and Person-centred therapy. 

What's the greater risk? Letting go of what others think - or letting go of how I feel, what I believe and who I am?” - Brené Brown  

Session Structure:

Session One - 1 hour

  • Problems have an uncanny way of trying to define us and can hide our skills, gifts, hopes, values and the many facets of us that make us who we are. They can try and convince us that we are not good enough or that life isn't worth living. In this first session after acknowledging why they are here, we will put the problem to the side so that we can discover the uniqueness and resourcefulness that makes your teenager who they. 

Session Two - 1 hour

  • Having established your teenager's resources and unique qualities, we can now explore the difficulties or problem(s) that they are experiencing, without the problem trying to define them.

  • Together we will be curious about and develop an understanding of the various facets of the problem.

  • We will look at the neuroscience and psychology behind it and thus normalise and gain an understanding of it's presence.

  • Your teenager will get to evaluate whether its ok that the problem holds the power that it does in their lives. Or would they rather be making decisions themselves about what they want for their life? 

  • This helps develop a sense of motivation and courage to stick up for their preferences in life and to take steps towards claiming their lives back from the grips of the problem. 

  • The presence of a problem can be representative of something that is valued or needed that has gone amiss. A protest against something which has offended our values, a negotiation of a transition in life, or simply the eager workings of a mind that has been designed for survival. As such, problems can act as a signpost that expose your teenager's values, beliefs and desires and that highlights the workings of a mind that is wired to ensure protection. 

Session Three - Six -1 hour

  • These sessions will be about...

  • exploring, storying and developing your teenager's unique resources that could be helpful in influencing the presence of the problem. 

  • This might include...

  • educating the problem using their knowledges, wisdom and experiences

  • demonstrating to the problem that they've got what it takes to live life without the problem trying to take control.

  • Enlisting the voice of those people who know them well and who can vouch for their skills, values and knowledges

  • or those people they admire who would stand with them in what they believe and value.

  • Adopting additional techniques that have been proven to influence the presence of various problems

  • Looking at what life could look like if their own values, beliefs, skills and desires were at the centre of their decision making rather than those of the problem.

Benefits: 

An opportunity to work on...

  • Establishing unique strengths, resources, skills, values, beliefs, ideas, hopes and dreams that can get hidden by the challenges and problems that arise.

  • Making decisions and choices (including behavioural choices) and working through conflicts and difficulties, guided by the above.

  • Improved self-awareness, self-esteem, resilience, belief in ones self - a clearer sense of 'this is the me who I choose to be' - establishing a preferred self. 

  • Improved emotional regulation - ability to reduce the negative influence of problems that arise and improved self control.

  • Opportunity to establish support networks and acknowledge those who would stand with them in what they believe and value.

  • Improved relationships

  • A normalisation of the effects of the problems they might encounter.

  • A sense of empowerment and an increased drive, interest and curiosity in life.

Helen Huston Therapy, Whangaparaoa, 021 422 045

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