Adolescent + Young Adult Psychotherapy

Adolescents don't always know or can't express what is wrong. From a developmental standpoint, they lack the cognitive and emotional maturity to verbalize their experiences. One way they are able to tell their story is through action or reacting to the environment. Sometimes, adolescents shut down, avoid, act out or develop other unhelpful coping mechanisms in an effort to manage their distress. Many things can go wrong as adolescents, young adults and their families struggle with many issues related to this difficult transition including: separation and individuation issues, needs for closeness vs autonomy, attachment and relationship challenges, identity exploration, confusion about goals and direction and concerns about education and career. All of these concerns can lead to conflicts and symptoms such as anxiety, depression, substance use and abuse, addictions and self image issues.  

Family therapy and or individual sessions can provide early and effective intervention leading to significant improvement in adolescent and young adult emotional and social functioning. When young people experience stress, confusion, chaos, depression, anxiety, trauma, parental discord, bullying and loss, they show their anger, fear and sadness through mood and behavior changes. Parents frequently assume these symptoms will resolve with time, but often, problems compound or escalate, leading to more maladaptive behaviors. The developing adolescent or young adult is able to benefit most when encouraged to express their feelings in an open and safe environment. The therapist helps the young person develop enhanced self-awareness, increased acceptance and comfort with their developing "self," learn healthier coping skills, receive guidance and support and learn to modify unhelpful thoughts and behaviors as needed.

Common distress indicators in teens, adolescents and young adults:

  • Mood changes - anxiety and depression can manifest as aggression, isolation, irritability and sadness
  • Physical complaints - emotional issues often manifest in physical complaints such as headaches, stomach problems or other somatic complaints
  • Behavior changes - teens and adolescents may isolate, seem less interested in usual activities or show increased or decreased activity level
  • Difficulties with concentration - young people in distress may have problems with impulsivity and focusing
  • Academic decline - a drop in grades in school or college may indicate emotional distress or learning issues
  • Eating problems - emotional distress often takes the form of refusing to eat or restricting food
  • Sleeping problems - this is frequently a sign of excessive worry, a mood-related problem, circadian rhythm sleep disorder or a health issue and should be evaluated by a professional
  • Separation issues - may indicate distress in the environment or earlier unresolved developmental issues
  • Behavior problems - teens and adolescents act out becoming aggressive and oppositional with family members, peers and teachers
  • Substance Abuse - experimentation is normal with teens and adolescents, however substance use that interferes with functioning is an indication of poor coping skills and emotional distress

I have expertise working with the following adolescent and young adult concerns:

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Self-harm
  • OCD
  • Self-esteem deficits
  • Perfectionism & inhibitions
  • Bereavement & loss
  • Substance use/abuse, behavioral addictions
  • Sexual & identity issues
  • Body image
  • Trauma
  • Sexual abuse and trauma, PTSD
  • Eating disorders
  • Anger
  • Social skills deficits
  • Divorce & family conflicts