Parenting adolescents is no easy task, especially with so many outside influences competing with the knowledge, skills, and values that parents are trying to pass onto them. Unless a teen-ager specifically requests therapeutic interventions, we normally limit our work with the parent(s) and teens together to help them navigate this very challenging life stage and stage of family development. Using a trauma-informed, trauma-sensitive approach, we never ask teenagers about what is wrong with them, only about what has happened to them. We believe that adolescence, in and of itself, can be very traumatic for so many of our youth and for their families. We can help with this.
But adolescence can also be an exciting and fun-loving time, a time of tremendous learning and developmental momentum, a time of possibilities when so many very important decisions are made. It is also a time of opportunity for those who know how to recognize and use the opportunities that are available to them. It is a time to discover and take ownership of strengths and also work on any weaknesses that have been holding one back. We help a number of families make the best of these very special, but turbulent, times.
Adolescence is the start of a lifelong period of identity formation, the formation of a personal identity that hopefully will contribute to helping make the world a little better place just because one is a part of it. Frequently this is done within the context of one's career-choices and work-life, but also through parenting, peer-relationships, cultural and community involvement.
To do this, earlier traumas have to be processed and used for growth. New traumas need to be avoided, if possible, or at least interrupted as quickly as possible with immediate helpful interventions. Inside troubles related to depression, anxiety, confusion, sadness, jealousy, boredom, anger, disappointment, frustration, guilt and shame, ignorance, loneliness, and fatigue have to be addressed in constructive ways. Outside troubles, especially those involving bullying, conflict with teachers/peers/parents, academic requirements, cultural and religious expectations, and community involvement need to be managed in ways that do no harm. We can help with all of this.
Transitioning to adulthood is such an important part of life, but some of the struggles involved in this can be overwhelming to teens and/or their parents. Something as simple as navigating the transition from high school to college or vocational training or immediate employment can be so much more complex than it was a generation ago! At the other end of the spectrum is the teen who isn't going to transition to adulthood, by choice, by circumstance, or because of a disability. We have professionals available who can help to guide teens and parents through this web of complexity and through the ambiguity that so often creates a smokescreen covering up dangers associated with this transition to adulthood. Teenagers and parents are very vulnerable.
Most children carry within them a strong love of their parents, but this love is based on dependency and a need for attachment. As the teen transitions to adulthood, that dependency need weakens or disappears altogether. Some develop a dangerous type of pseudo-independence, rejecting parental guidance and transferring those dependency needs onto other people or groups. Some attach to individuals or groups that confuse and discount what parents tried to teach and the values parents tried to transmit. Others introduce new ideas and ways of doing things that parents might want to consider. All of this requires excellent communication skills as teens and family members decide how their relationships are changing or need to change. Mistakes are inevitably made. Forgiveness is important but many people don't have a clue about what forgiveness really means and how to go about it. Let us help with this.