Therapy with Adolescents
According to recent data from the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, up to half of U.S. children and adolescents meet diagnostic criteria for at least one mental disorders by age 18. This research came from the first nationally representative, face-to- face survey on the topic. The data, released in October 2011 by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, also showed that many of these disorders emerge early — with an average age-of-onset of 6 for anxiety disorders, age 11 for behavior disorders, age 13 for mood disorders, and age 15 for substance use disorders. The percent of youth who meet criteria for mental illness is as follows: 31% Anxiety disorders, 19% Behavior Disorders, and 14% Mood disorders. Unfortunately, many of these disorders are left untreated because the symptoms and early warning signs are not recognized. Research also supports the idea of early intervention; the sooner you treat an emerging disorder, the better the outcome.
When To Seek Help For Your Teen
- Changes in mood (ie. crying often, irritability, angry outbursts)
- Declining grades and academic achievement and/or missing school
- Anxiety or fear regarding activities or certain events or situations
- Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Isolation, withdrawal or lack of social contact
- Extreme bullying at school or cyber-bulling
- Refusing to go to school or fearful of going to school
- Physical or verbal confrontations, aggressive behavior
- Changes in appetite, either eating more or eating less, or noticeable fluctuation in weight
- Significant changes or events in your househould (divorce, death, loss of a loved one, moving to a new area)
- Compulsive thoughts or behaviors
- Dangerous or reckless behaviors (use of drugs or drinking, reckless driving, sneaking out at night)
If your family is experiencing a great deal of high level conflict, it may be beneficial to seek help for family counseling in order to support your entire family.
I view my role as multifaceted. First and foremost, I work to build trust with the teen, and seek to understand their point of view as fully as possible. For families who want help in addressing communication barriers in the family, we will include family sessions aimed at fostering healthy communication. During family therapy, communication is facilitated in a safe, structured format that works towards accomplishing shared goals. For more on communication with your teen, read my article about How to Get Along With Your Teen: Talking, Rules and Conflict.
- What process do I use to make decisions or choices?
- What type of peer relationships do I have? Am I satisfied with these relationships?
- What do I hope for myself? For my future?
- When do I feel happiest? When am I feeling my worst?
- What are some important events that have happened recently in my life?
- What are my fears, my concerns?
- What is my communication style — how do I let people know what’s on my mind?
- If I could change things, what would I change?