Natassa Pursey MSc (Psy) MBPS
"The purpose of Psychotherapy is to set people free" Rollo May
Psychotherapy for Adolescents:
Adolescence is the transition period from childhood to adulthood involving numerous physical, cognitive, social and emotional changes. It is the time for preparation to adulthood characterized by physical and sexual maturation, identity development, abstract reasoning and independence. While this is a time of remarkable growth and potential, it is also a time of tremendous stress and high risks.
The enormous developmental tasks that adolescents are faced with, can leave them with poor self-esteem, anger, substance abuse, eating disorders, depression and loss of direction. The therapists who work with adolescents should understand their world and the changes they go through. They should be flexible but most importantly like and respect them while at the same time be in touch with their own adolescent self. The potential of these young people can be enormous and I get an immense satisfaction helping them reach their full potential and get ready for adulthood.
According to the American Psychological Association,
“It’s Normal for Adolescents To…
- Argue for the sake of arguing. Adolescents often go off on tangents, seeming to argue side issues for no apparent reason; this can be highly frustrating to many adults (Walker & Taylor, 1991). Keep in mind that, for adolescents, exercising their new reasoning capabilities can be exhilarating, and they need the opportunity to experiment with these new skills.
- Jump to conclusions. Adolescents, even with their newfound capacities for logical thinking, sometimes jump to startling conclusions (Jaffe, 1998). However, an adolescent may be taking a risk in staking out a position verbally, and what may seem brash may actually be bravado to cover his or her anxiety. Instead of correcting their reasoning, give adolescents the floor and simply listen. You build trust by being a good listener. Allow an adolescent to save face by not correcting or arguing with faulty logic at every turn. Try to find what is realistically positive in what is being said and reinforce that; you may someday find yourself enjoying the intellectual stimulation of the debates.
- Be self-centred (Jaffe, 1998). Adolescents can be very “me-centred.” It takes time to learn to take others’ perspectives into account; in fact, this is a skill that can be learned.
- Constantly find fault in the adult’s position (Bjorklund & Green, 1992). Adolescents’ newfound ability to think critically encourages. them to look for discrepancies, contradictions, or exceptions in what adults (in particular) say. Sometimes they will be most openly questioning or critical of adults with whom they feel especially safe. This can be quite a change to adjust to, particularly if you take it personally or the youth idealized you in the past.
- Be overly dramatic (Jaffe, 1998). Everything seems to be a “big deal” to teens. For some adolescents, being overly dramatic or exaggerating their opinions and behaviours simply comes with the territory. Dramatic talk is usually best seen as a style of oration rather than an indicator of possible extreme action, unless an adolescent’s history indicates otherwise.”