It’s rare to meet someone who would unequivocally describe their adolescent years as easy or painless.
From my own experience, the words awkward and difficult first come to mind. I frequently hear today’s adolescents summarize their experience with one word: stressful. I don’t remember my peers using that word during those formative years, which says something about the pressure that modern adolescents find themselves under at home, in school, and in the smorgasbord of extracurricular they now have to choose from.
When parents ask about difficulties their children are experiencing (and how they’re expressing it), the first thing I remind them is that sadness, confusion, and anger are normal reactions for children in their adolescent years. Unfortunately, these emotions can complicate the significant physical, mental, emotional, and social changes that happen during these developmental years. That’s why it’s so important for parents to get help for their children when need it, and why I sometimes hear from adults wishing that their parents had gotten them help when they were younger.
In October, my colleague, Cate Riihimaki, and I are starting two new therapy groups for adolescents, one focusing on stress management and the other targeting children of divorce (see Referral Corner below for more on the divorce group). These groups are designed to provide a safe, supportive, and encouraging environment to work through the mental and emotional hardships experienced during adolescence. Support at this critical age can have lasting effects on identity and individual and relational well-being.
Group therapy is particularly beneficial for adolescents because it allows them to bond with and learn from peers who are experiencing similar hardships, while also giving them the opportunity to experience and practice healthy relationships with the group leaders. Cate and I believe that adolescents greatly benefit from working simultaneously with a male and female therapist. Importantly, we strive to address the needs of group members in the larger context of the family dynamic. An important part of the group process involves hearing from and offering feedback to parents in intake sessions and in optional parent sessions.
Please let us know how we can help your child and your family!
For more information on the Children of Divorce or the Stress Management groups for adolescents, please contact Nathan Gehlert at 202-449-3789 x716 or Cate Riihimaki at x704.