Adolescent & Young Adult Counseling Los Angeles
Counseling for Teens
Teenagers and adolescents go through different things on a daily basis than adults do. Because of this, it can be difficult to actually counsel them if the same strategies are used as with adults. Understanding this difference is important for any therapist that wants to be effective with teenagers. Physical maturation, emotional changes and a wide range of hormonal shifts are happening during the teenage years. To top it all off, they are undergoing identity changes and trying to figure out what level of independence they should take about their family!
That’s a lot! I have years of experience working with teenagers, adolescents and young adults – and taking all of these points into consideration.
The brain of a teenager is not fully developed until around 26 or 27 years old. The prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain involved in emotional regulation, is still growing and taking shape for adolescents and young adults. Impulses are still being regulated, and teenagers are often trying to make sense of where they stand in the world and what their purpose is. While these existential topics may seem a bit heady for a young person to grapple with, they are going on nonetheless! Understanding how to work within these boundaries to help teens come to grips with these difficult questions while learning to coexist in harmony with the world is what I specialize in.
Counseling for Young Adults
The transition to adulthood can be confusing and overwhelming for many young adults and can take some time to sort out. Major depression and anxiety are very common with this age group – one of the reasons that counseling can be so beneficial.
Much of the counseling that takes place with young adults can center around their relationship to their parents and how they frame themselves in the context of their family unit. They are always testing behaviors and methods of interacting with the world around them – usually unconsciously.
Giving them the time to explore their identity in a safe and empathetic environment allows this growth to happen in a healthy direction.
Issues that Young Adults Face
Young adults face a variety of matters that therapy can help with. Some of these include
● Major Depression
● Social Anxiety
● Eating Disorders
● Body Image Disorders
● Lack of Motivation
● Fear of Failure
● Pressure to Succeed
● Academic Difficulties
● Peer Pressure
While every teen is different, having a helping hand to navigate these difficult issues can make all of the difference when it comes to growing into a healthy, well-adjusted individual.
Integrating the Family Unit
One of the biggest struggles that teenagers often face is the issue of conflict within the family unit. Parents often find teens to be unresponsive and unwilling to engage. Coupled with potential substance use and a lack of communication, this can make for a very noisy home environment. Learning to coexist not just peacefully, but harmoniously, is one of the goals of adolescent and young adult therapy.
When the whole family gets on the same page, things go a lot more smoothly! Working with a young person to first begin examine their feelings and behavior allows them to become more emotionally cognizant and get in touch with their internal environment. After this takes place, it is much easier for them to integrate into the family unit and begin participating with the family as a whole.
This process can take time, but having a therapist that can identify, relate to and demonstrate support, gives young adults a healthy degree of emotional independence while helping them develop more effective coping skills and determine where they fit into the family as a whole.
Healthy Boundaries and Expectations
Teens and young adults are also at the stage in their lives when it is important to start learning how to set healthy boundaries. Many of their behaviors are heavily shaped by the people that they surround themselves with an outside of the home, and self-esteem is strongly influenced by the opinions of their peers. One of the goals when working with this age group is to help them to develop this sense of strong self-esteem and learn how to stand up for what they believe in, setting healthy boundaries in the process.
Navigating their expectations from life and working towards defining who they are through passionate work and exploration helps them to live a healthier and more peaceful life. Sometimes there can be a lack of boundaries inside of the home, demonstrated through negative behaviors and a demanding or entitled attitude. Helping teens to look at their behaviors and perceptions allows this turbulence to subside gradually.
Effective Communication Skills
Communication skills are critical for anyone of any age. Teenagers and young adults in particular, though, often struggle verbalizing what they are feeling and what they need. It is also common for them to lose control of their emotional responses, resulting in conflict inside of the home – especially with parents and siblings. Learning how to communicate and take the needs of others into account can be difficult for teenagers because of the ego-centric view that they often look at the world with while developing.
Therapy helps teenagers to learn and practice effective skills for learning to communicate while becoming conscious of their actions and the other individuals in their lives.
Keeping Parents Involved
While client confidence is key, effectively healing the family unit is a group effort. Bringing parents into the mix and helping young people develop strategies for incorporating their parents into their lives helps everyone in the household. Ultimately, through collaborative effort and therapeutic growth, the entire family can benefit and stay involved with one another.