Do Worry That Your Teen Is Struggling With Relationships?
- Is your teen acting moody, withdrawn or anxious?
- Does your teen seem completely wrapped up in and distracted by issues about friends or romantic relationships?
- Is your teen acting out at home and/or testing established boundaries and rules?
- Are you having trouble connecting or communicating with your teen?
- Do you wish you knew how to best support your teen as he/she/ze navigates the challenging teenage years?
During the teen years, adolescents often face relationship questions and complications for the first time. Your teen may be discovering his/her/zir sexual identity and trying to figure out how to navigate the challenges of dating or falling in love. Your teen may also be balancing the dramatic emotions that come with the relationships with platonic friends. Perhaps your teen always seems to be glued to the phone or computer, and you wonder who he/she/ze is communicating with. Maybe you worry that your teen seems consumed by social issues, and you have noticed a concerning change in sleeping patterns, eating habits and school performance.
You might feel shut out of your teen’s ever-developing world. Maybe you worry that he/she/ze is facing bullying, starting to explore sex or experimenting with alcohol or drugs. Perhaps you want to prevent your teen from spending time with certain people, but your attempts to establish boundaries have backfired into fights and conflict. You may understand that your teen is growing up, but still feel as though you are helpless and unable to offer the support that he/she/ze needs.
Teen Social Issues Are Very Common
Adolescence is a tumultuous time both physically and emotionally. Teenagers experience intense changes in their relationships with their families, friends, romantic interests and themselves. Many teens want to begin individuating and separating themselves from their families, especially if they sense that the adults in their lives don’t really understand or validate what they are going through. While it may sometimes seem like teenagers are hormonal and dramatic, they are going through legitimately difficult and complicated experiences.
Every day at school, online and in other places where they interact with their peers, teenagers are receiving messages from their experience. If they feel left out, bullied or isolated, they may be translating those social messages to mean that they are lesser in some way. Heartbreak, the end of friendships and the struggle to fit in can feel all-consuming and take a real physical, mental and emotional toll. It is very normal for teenagers to resist telling their parents about their teen social issues, especially if they are discovering their sexualities in unexpected or intense ways. But, painful and intense teen relationships can also have harmful consequences if your teen is bottling emotions. If your teen seems to be struggling, it may be time to reach out for external support and guidance.
Therapy Can Help Your Child Navigate Teen Social Issues
For over 20 years, I have worked with teens to help them figure out how to get through the many challenges of teen social issues and become the people they want to be. So many teenagers do not want to talk to the adults in their lives for fear of embarrassment, punishment or judgment. Even if you would not respond in negative ways, it may be difficult for your teenager to understand that. As an experienced therapist who is neither a parent, teacher or other everyday authority figure, I can connect with your teen on a unique level.
Therapy sessions can be a safe place for your teen to express every emotion or experience he/she/ze is going through. While I will not talk down to your teenager or tell your child what to do, I will use my experience to listen for any risk factors for dangerous behaviors. And, as a removed adult, I can give your teen calm advice and guidance. After 20 years of experience, I am shocked by very little, and I will not talk to your teen from a place of morality or judgment. Instead, I will help he/she/ze make healthy decisions, reframe challenging experiences, normalize intense emotions and create new perspectives so that things don’t look so bad. I can also help your teen work through questions of sexual orientation and gender identity, along with general concerns they may have about sexuality.
I can also help you begin to better understand and accept your teenager’s journey into adulthood. In sessions, I help teens become autonomous without breaking their bonds with their parents. It can a bumpy ride, and many teens face conflict and misunderstanding with the adults in their lives. I can help you manage the new expectations you have for each other as your child grows up.
I take teen social issues seriously because adolescent experiences teach so many teens how relationships work. What may seem like puppy love is actually helping your teen figure out what he/she/ze wants from romantic relationships, and these lessons can stick for life. In therapy, I can help your teen identify his/her/zir values so that he/she/ze can build the best possible connections with supportive and loving people. With help, your teen can learn healthy ways to create and enjoy relationships now and in the future.
You may believe that your teen can benefit from therapy for teen social issues, but still may have questions or concerns…
I’m worried that I will be excluded from my teen’s life.
Teenagers are in a transitional life stage, and many of them are trying to figure out how to establish themselves as individuals, distinct from their parents or families. This does not mean that your teen doesn’t love or appreciate you – it’s a healthy part of growing up. Teenagers often feel like their parents just don’t understand. However, therapy can help your teen develop communication skills to use with you as well as with peers. It is important for teens to have a safe place to vent. What your teen shares in sessions will be confidential; however, I will contact you if I am concerned about potentially dangerous behavior.
Will you judge me as a parent based on what my teen says?
Therapy is a place for your teen to share anything he/she/ze wants. This means your teen may talk about you and your relationship. But, this is a healthy way for your teen to work out the best way to become a unique individual without completely separating from family. I will never judge you, your teen or your family for something shared during sessions. Everything your teen says is entirely confidential.
My teen doesn’t want to go to therapy.
Many teens are resistant to therapy until they give it a try. I will never talk down to your teen or act as though his/her/zir feelings and relationships don’t matter. Your teen and I can meet for just five sessions and see how things go. Even if your teen decides not to continue, it is likely that even those five sessions will be helpful.
If you believe your teen is struggling with social issues, I invite you to call me at (415) 294-5007 for a free 15-minute phone consultation to ask any questions you have about teen social issues and my practice.