Adolescence is typically defined as the years between ages 14 and 19, and it is considered the transitional stage from childhood to adulthood. Pre-teens, or “tweens,” are typically considered to be those between ages 11 and 13. In addition to the many physical changes that occur during adolescence, it also tends to be a time that is emotionally challenging and daunting. For teenagers, this transitional period can bring up issues related to independence, self-identity, family relationships, peer relationships, academic and social pressures, romantic relationships, and sexual identity. It is also not uncommon for those in this age group to experience difficulty with decision-making, controlling their impulses, and engaging in high-risk behaviors.
In addition to the concerns listed above that are common during adolescence, many teens in this age range will also experience a mental health issue that significantly impairs them at school, at home, and among their peers. These include, but are not limited to:
- Depression — including sadness, loneliness, irritability, and hopelessness
- Anxiety — including extreme fears, worries, nervousness, or obsessions
- Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or coping with trauma
- Eating Disorders
- Grief and loss
- Self-harming behaviors
- Suicidal ideation
- Substance abuse
- Low self-esteem or poor self-concept
Through therapy, adolescents have the opportunity to explore current and past issues that are causing them difficulty in various aspects of their lives in order to gain clarity and alleviate symptoms. Therapy also allows adolescents to explore all types of relationships to resolve conflict and determine whether or not they continue to positively serve them. With the guidance of a therapist, adolescents are able to learn new and effective coping skills to deal with difficult emotions and reduce the likelihood of harmful behaviors. This work is done within an environment that is confidential and safe, thus allowing for growth and lasting change to occur. Through participation in therapy, the hope is that adolescents will achieve personal fulfillment and the capacity to thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and within their families.