The teen years can be tough for both parent and child. Teenagers are under stress to be liked, do well in school, navigate through peer relationship challenges (bullying, peer pressure, making appropriate choices), get along with their family, and make important life decisions. Most of these pressures are unavoidable and worrying about them is natural. But if your teen is feeling extremely sad, hopeless, or worthless, these could be warning signs of a mental health problem.
Mental health problems for teenagers often have significant impacts on their daily lives. They can lead to school failure, loss of friends, trouble with authority, and family conflict. Some of the signs that may point to a possible problem are listed below.
If you are a parent or guardian of a teenager, pay attention if your teen…
is troubled by feeling:
- very angry most of the time, crying a lot or overreacting to things;
- worthless or guilty a lot;
- anxious or worried a lot more than other young people;
- grief for a long time after a loss or death;
- extremely fearful, having unexplained fears or more fears than most kids;
- constantly concerned about physical problems or appearance;
- frightened that his or her mind is controlled, or is out of control.
experiences big changes, for example:
- does much worse in school;
- loses interest in things usually enjoyed;
- has unexplained changes in sleeping or eating habits;
- avoids friends or family and wants to be alone all the time;
- daydreams too much and can’t get things done;
- feels life is too hard to handle or talks about suicide;
- hears voices that cannot be explained.
is limited by:
- poor concentration, or can’t make decisions;
- an inability to sit still or focus attention;
- worry about being harmed, hurting others, or about doing something “bad”;
- the need to wash, clean things, or perform certain routines dozens of times a day;
- thoughts that race almost too fast to follow;
- persistent nightmares
behaves in ways that cause problems, for example:
- uses alcohol or other drugs;
- eats large amounts of food and then forces vomiting, abuses laxatives, or takes enemas to avoid weight gain;
- continues to diet or exercise obsessively although bone-thin;.
- often hurts other people, destroys property, or breaks the law;
- does things that can be life threatening.
When working with teenagers, our skilled mental health clinicians develop therapeutic experiential activities and lead discussions and dialogs that focus on topics most meaningful to each teen’s treatment goals.
Parents are encouraged to be active participants in their teen’s treatment here at Common Threads. Oftentimes teens are ready to “break away” and “separate” from their parents even within therapy. When and if this happens, our clinicians work hard to bridge communication so that parents are aware of and feel connected to the treatment their teen is receiving within our center.
Best Friends is the name of our therapeutic dyads for adolescents ages 12-17 years old. This program brings together two teens who are at the same stage of emotional regulation, relationship development and capacity with others, and social skill development, in a therapeutic social setting based upon their strengths. Individual treatment plans for each child within the pairing are developed by the family and the therapists facilitating the dyad.
Skills often addressed:
- attaining and maintaining a “focused and alert” state with which to begin and sustain interactions
- flexibility within activities
- social appropriateness
- the importance of compromise within relationship development
- understanding social cues and social rules
- sharing space and control with a peer during activities
- initiating and sustaining conversations
- taking a break when needed, with the support of an adult, and rejoining engagement with a peer
- identify how one’s interactions impact another
- identifying appropriate behavioral choices
- emotional regulation
Teen Therapy Groups
Our teen therapy groups are organized from a strength-based approach, and engage teens in discussions and activities that support and facilitate forward movement within each teen’s treatment goals and plans. Topics regarding peer pressure, bullying, making friends, building self esteem, learning strategies to manage anxiety, and dealing with intense emotions such as anger are often highlighted within each teen group. These therapy groups provide an opportunity for teens to relate to others through shared experiences, building self-confidence, and celebrating individuality, while increasing coping strategies that will support their success across environments.
Teen Guys Mental Health Group
Within this group, skilled mental health clinicians will develop activities and lead discussions that focus on topics most meaningful to group members. Some of those topics have included peer pressure, bullying, making friends, learning strategies to manage anxiety, and dealing with intense emotions such as anger. This therapy group provides an opportunity for teens to relate to others through shared experiences, build self-confidence and celebrate individuality, and increase coping strategies that will support their success across environments.
Teen Girls Mental Health Group
Get ready to try out some new skills while sharing together in this creativity fostering environment! With movement, art, and activities as the modality for building group interaction and cohesion, teens in the therapeutic group will meet new friends and build social skills. The teens will build self-confidence and celebrate their individuality while engaging in positive peer relationships. This group will navigate the world of unwritten social rules and practice skills to generalize in other situations.
Teen Guys Social Skills Group
The teen guy’s social skills group provides a safe, comfortable environment where teens can come together and engage in fun, experiential activities that promote learning and understanding about social situations they encounter each day. The teens will build self-confidence and celebrate their individuality while building positive peer relationships, recognizing and developing skills to manage peer pressure and navigate the world of unwritten social rules.
Teen Understanding Anger Group
A teen perspective to understanding anger, the difference between anger and aggression, and developing effective coping skills.
Common wisdom suggest that talking about emotional stresses help us cope and regulate. But for some individuals, this kind of expression is difficult! Sessions carefully planned by licensed mental health therapists take this into account and facilitate groups that focus on understanding behaviors (aggression, avoidance, perseveration) as failures of regulation, rather than purposeful actions.