The Adolescent Tunnel
Adolescence is a period of life that is difficult for them and their parents. It is a challenging developmental stage which can be characterised as intensely psychological. During this period, adolescents, no longer children but not yet adults, experience inner turmoil, confusion, a sense of loss and heightened anxiety which can easily overwhelm them.
The Adolescent Brain
Also during adolescence, the Cortex, a part of the brain needed to prioritise issues, sort through problems, good judgement, planning and other essential functions of adulthood, is still under construction. Because of this, adolescents use more primitive parts of their brain to manage their emotions and are more likely to react rather think things through.
Adolescents are generally more vulnerable to stress and thus prone to act out and engage in risky behaviours. Not all adolescents act out, some go through this turbulent period quietly, others suffer with debilitating anxiety.
Parents contact me when their Adolescent has Developed One or More of the Following Symptoms:
- social phobia, excessive shyness
- fatigue, depression and isolation
- chronic stomach and headaches with no underlying medical causes
- defiant and ‘I don’t care’ attitude masking a deep fear of failure
- conduct disorder
- obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours
- poor self esteem
- eating disorders
- addiction to alcohol and drugs
- self-harming, as unconscious attempts to release emotional suffering through physical pain
- suicide attempts, overdose, as an unconscious way to express deep seated anger and or feeling of hopelessness and despair
- difficulty adjusting to life events including divorce, physical handicap, chronic illness, death.
Working with adolescents who present with one or more of these symptoms, I seek to help them name feelings linked with their emotional suffering and help them explore and make sense of their inner turmoil. I also seek to help adolescents explore their thoughts, feelings and what they want for the future. This in turn enables them to develop a better understanding of themselves and empowers them to make healthy and authentic choices.
However, it is important to note that it is not possible to work in therapy with an adolescent who has not asked for help and does not think that he or she needs it. Equally it is not possible to work with an adolescent who is not concerned about his or her behaviour and or emotional state.
First Meeting with the Young Person and their Parents
If possible, I usually ask to meet with both parents and the adolescent for the first meeting. However, if you are an adolescent and wish to come on your own I will work with you like an adult. I will tell you how I work and you can decide if you wish to proceed with therapy. Your parents can contact me by telephone if they wish to get in touch with me.
If you attend our first meeting with your parents, together we can establish who it is that needs therapy. I will then encourage you to meet for a further two meetings after which it will be up to you to decide if you wish to commit to therapy. Below is what will happen in the sessions you attend without your parents.
Your sessions are confidential. This means that what you talk about will not be shared. However, if you or someone is likely to be harmed it is my duty of care to share information with your parents and other professionals. I will only do this after I have informed you that I plan to share information about you. This way you don’t have to worry about people talking about you without you knowing.
Psychotherapy is not a quick fix. It requires patience and commitment.