Janette Berne is a Licensed Professional Counselor
Given the rapidly changing role of technology, high stakes testing, changes in family roles, increases in school violence and eco-anxiety, our teenagers and young adults need more support than those of times past. I give adolescents a safe place to talk about whatever they are finding problematic. Different people have different paces when it comes to tackling their problems, and this pace is honored as well. Specific therapeutic techniques that I find especially helpful for this age group are primarily talk therapy with an emphasis on discovering how my client is perceiving their issues. Sometimes these perceptions need to be examined to see if they are serving the teen or harming them. Occasionally creative approaches like art therapy and mindfulness can help as well.
Hopefully, soon, our society will see relational aggression as a serious and pervasive problem and take steps to remediate these destructive patterns. Until then, our girls and young women need counseling to prevent these growing pains from turning into emotional scars.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
has been getting a great deal of attention recently because of its efficacy in treating many different emotional and behavioral problems. However, no form of therapy is a one intervention fits all endeavor. I customize CBT with my clients over 10 by examining the role of self-talk and how it affects mood. Self-talk can be a running internal commentary where we evaluate and judge all that is going on around us and what’s happening to us. Most people talk to themselves almost constantly. Unfortunately, most of us don’t do a very good job of it. Sometimes our thoughts take specific forms such as judgement-laden, self-critical self-talk. After making a common error they are likely to have self-talk like “I must be perfect” or “I should have known better, this is all my fault”.
Another category of harmful self-talk involves all-or-nothing thinking, like “I did poorly on one test this week. That proves I must be a complete idiot”. Quite often the client will not be aware of these negative self-appraisals, so bringing them to the surface to examine whether they are helpful or hurtful can be a transformative experience. The way we think about our circumstances typically translates into how we feel and behave about it. It is possible to think your way into better feeling and behaving. Investigating and changing self-talk is a helpful tool that I use with most of my clients over 10. Regular therapy can help your teen express their experience, leading us to problem solve in a collaborative way.
“ADOLESCENCE IS NOT A PERIOD OF BEING ‘CRAZY’ OR ‘IMMATURE.’ IT IS AN ESSENTIAL TIME OF EMOTIONAL INTENSITY, SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT AND CREATIVITY”
DANIEL SIEGEL, M.D.
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Dunwoody, GA 30350