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Adolescence is a period of rapid changes.  Between the ages of 12 and 17, for example, a parent ages as much as 20 years. - Anonymous

To be a teenager is to be in the midst of a truly difficult phase in life, and to be the parent of a teenager is that much harder!   Teens have their own special challenges when it comes to their emotional health.  They are dealing with the pressures of peers, school, and hormones, and are searching out who they want to become in the world.  Often their relationship with their parents changes and becomes more difficult, when they behave in ways that are hard to understand, and seem to be unwilling to communicate how they feel, leaving adults feeling frustrated, helpless, and worried.

Therapy with adolescents often involves a kind of translation between parents and teens, so that if communication has broken down, it can start up again.  Sometimes therapy gives an adolescent an alternative perspective on their own life; a place to air grievances, and to be understood; and sometimes it is simply an adult who does not bear the label "parent" expressing the same sentiments of concern and interest that a parent does (but which are rejected by the teen because of their need to feel 'separate' from their family).  

Sometimes the problem is obvious, and sometimes parents know only that they are worried about their teen's behavior or moods.  I work with adolescents who are experiencing all types of difficulties, including:    

Depression and Anxiety: including teens who have difficulty with mood swings, excessive sadness, worries, difficulties with self-esteem, and cutting and other self-injurious behaviors.
Trauma and Post-traumatic Stress: including loss and grief, car accidents, and sexual assault.
llness or Injury: Difficulties coping with diabetes, HIV, cancer, and  adherence to medical regimens.

I work with teens and their families using a variety of techniques, including talk therapy, play therapy, sand tray and art therapy interventions, depending on the client's presenting concern and individual style and need.  For adolescents, playing, drawing, and imagining, in addition to talking, are often important ways of sharing feelings and resolving problems. 

For more on how psychotherapy can be helpful to teens:  www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/what_is_psychotherapy_for_children_and_adolescents

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