What’s Going On With My Teenager?
The adolescent and teenage years seem to go hand in hand with struggle. This is understandable, as these years are a period of growth (both mentally and physically), and exploration. Your adolescent is going thru the last BIG change in their developmental life. They are facing major changes in their physical, emotional and cognitive development. This is a time when the Pre-Frontal Cortex (where all the executive functioning) has the biggest growth spurt ever. This area of the brain is connected to all other areas of the brain’s neural structures. This part of their brain is responsible for their impulse control, judgment, decision making (considering consequences), and empathy/compassion for others.
Parents find it difficult to know when it is appropriate to seek outside support for their child because some level of struggle is natural. As a parent, you are experiencing your teenager’s need to separate and being away from home more. Your teen is moving towards being more of an individual, experimenting with authority, values and limits. You may be experiencing the very natural opposition, defiance withdrawal, self-centeredness and arrogance that comes with their development.
It’s even more difficult if your teen is struggling with something you don’t understand, such as identity issues. If your teen is questioning their gender identity, and shows any of the following signs of distress, then it may be time to identify outside mental health support.
- Withdrawing socially or social isolation
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Increased irritability or other mood changes
- Changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns
- Expressing ongoing lethargy or exhaustion
- Increased restlessness and/or anxiety
- Expressing hopeless of suicidal thoughts
- Ongoing physical symptoms such as a headaches or stomach aches
These reasons alone make therapy a challenge; therefore, finding the RIGHT therapist is Imperative.
Gender Dysphoria/Sexuality and Identity
It’s even more difficult if your teen is struggling with something you don’t understand, such as sexuality or identity issues.
During the teen years, people often find themselves having sexual thoughts and attractions. For some, these feelings and thoughts can be intense and seem confusing. That can be especially true for people who have romantic or sexual thoughts about someone who is the same sex they are. “What does that mean,” they might think. “Am I gay?”
Being interested in someone of the same sex does not necessarily mean that a person is gay — just as being interested in someone of the opposite sex doesn’t mean a person is straight. It’s common for teens to be attracted to or have sexual thoughts about people of the same sex and the opposite sex. It’s one way of sorting through emerging sexual feelings.
Some people might go beyond just thinking about it and experiment with sexual experiences with people of their own sex or of the opposite sex. These experiences, by themselves, do not necessarily mean that a person is gay or straight.
WHAT IS GENDER DYSPHORIA?
Questioning Gender Identity, also known as Gender Dysphoria is a feeling of distress, either emotionally or physiologically as a result of the sex or gender an individual was assigned at birth.
When a teen is uncomfortable or feels unhappy with his or her physical sex, the are likely suffering from gender dysphoria. This condition often manifests in children as young as two (2) to four (4) years of age as a desire to be, or a belief that he or she is of the opposite sex.
In many cases, the feeling of having the wrong physical sex will continue into adulthood. A transgender teen will feel increasing discomfort, even disgust with his or her body as sexual development begins.
Knowing When to Seek Help…
If your teen is questioning their sexuality or gender identity, and shows any of the above signs of distress (or the ones below), then it may be time to identify outside mental health support.
There are many symptoms & signs associated with gender dysphoria. These signs may be physical, mental, or behavioral in nature. A teen suffering from gender dysphoria may exhibit a range of feelings and behaviors that are confusing to parents.
These patterns typically develop in early childhood. They can also start to emerge as the adolescent grows into a young adult. Below are a few indicators that show your child may be suffering from Gender Dysphoria:
- If you notice your child is avoiding school.
- They are engaging in behavior typically associated with the opposite sex.
- They refuse to participate in sports or activities traditionally associated with their at-birth gender.
Who We Treat
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Anxiety and Panic Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Trauma Related Disorders/ Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Self-harm/Self-Injurious Behaviors
- Emerging Personality Disorders
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Gender Dysphoria
- Attachment Related Disorders
- Grief and Loss
- Substance and Eating Disorders
What Makes Us Different?
Your teenager may have been to therapy before, or maybe they hate the idea of coming to therapy. At Waves Counseling Services, LLC, we use expressive arts, play, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy approach, sand tray, and other modalities to help teenagers engage and be successful. We know their resistance, their use of denial, their distrust of adults, and their need for control are what make verbal therapy difficult, lengthier and less successful.
Teens who are seen at Waves Counseling Services, will…
Hate the idea at first
Love coming eventually
Grow and develop
Be affirmed and referred to in their chosen pronouns
Play, create and express
Improve decision making
Express themselves in healthier ways
Improve their self-esteem and self-worth
Explore who they are
We believe in the power of creating and helping others in order to find one’s true calling and sense of purpose. Teens are given an opportunity to express themselves via a variety of mediums. People learn and digest information in differing ways
Our clients benefit from proven, evidence-based treatments. These treatments help begin building their new foundation of lasting recovery. Each client is different. Our Clinicians utilize multiple therapeutic modalities and highly personalized care. This approach helps improve outcomes and reduce the chance of relapse. Our goal is to reduce or eliminate the root cause of the destructive behavior. This is achieved by providing troubled adolescents with lasting recovery. This includes foundational tools they can use for the rest of their lives.
Evidenced Based Practices
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
- DBT (Dialetical Behavioral Therapy),
- ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy),
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Re-Processing),
- Trauma-Focused CBT,
- Sand Tray,
- Expressive Arts
The First session will consist of an assessment with parent (s) and teen. This can last approximately 1-1.5 hours.
Subsequent sessions are typically 45-55 minutes in length. Your teenager needs to know their confidentiality is protected at the level yours is. During the first session, we will engage in activities that will help us to get to know one another. Any information that is shared will require the permission of your teenager. At Waves Counseling Services, LLC we are LGBTQIA affirming.
At Waves Counseling Services, LLC we strongly believe parents, caregivers and family need to be involved and are the experts. For your teenager to be successful it is important that you and your therapist communicate, partner and collaborate. Teens need you more now than ever; although, they will not tell you this. This is the time where they need you to help them find their way into adulthood. There will be times you will meet independently of your teenager, and other times where family therapy will be most appropriate. Your therapist is here as a resource and support.
Teen Mental Health Facts
- 20% of adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder.
- Suicide-For young individuals ages 15-24, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
- 15-18% of teens experience a mood episode by the time they are 18.
- 30% of teens with depression develop a substance abuse addiction.
- 80% of teens with anxiety disorder and 60% of teens with depression didn’t receive treatment in 2015.
- 1 in 5 young people struggle with a mental illness. Only 4% of our health care budget goes toward mental health support.
- Strong Bonds
Adolescents who have a strong bond with a caring adult are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.