Teenage/early youth is an Aeon when people face a lot of physical, mental and emotional switches, as their reactions are emotional and hormonal. This might bring forth concerns and issues of mood swings, anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse or body image issues.
Reasons for developing such issues
Academics: Family and social pressure on today’s youth to opt for certain subject or to get admission in specific school or college increases the risks of Anxiety, Depression and Low self-esteem among youngsters. As getting through this competitive word is the sign of intelligence.
Trust me students who don’t rack-up, and don’t seem bothered to teachers at school and colleges or to parents at home, does worry intensely about their marks and grades.
While most teens struggle with self-confidence issues at one time or another, some experience serious self-esteem issues. When those issues are left unaddressed, teens are at a higher risk of problems such as substance abuse and academic failure.
Comparisons: Comparing teenagers and youngsters for things like position at school, in class or at workplace, comparing body type that leads to issues such as body image or body dysmorphia (though different culture promotes an impossible body type) or comparisons because of race and skin colour.
In this era of social media comparison in the name of followers and subscribers are making it even more stressful for today’s youth.
This again results in developing self-doubts and low self-esteem.
Peer Pressure: Pressure of belonging to certain group in school, college or workplace or strain/exasperation of recognition or image development among peers as they always want to be viewed in a perfect/certain light.
This forces youth to do things that are not right and may harm/damage them physically and mentally both, likewise substance abuse, smoking, intake of alcohol, self-harm.
Teenage and adolescence is an age where in children experience a lot changes in their relationships too. Getting into intimate relationships brings in a lot of excitement accompanied by stress, thrust towards sexual relationships and grief of breakups.
Career: Choosing a choice of career and getting into jobs that interests today’s youth is another challenging aspect. It makes it really distressing for them to make a choice between the type of carrier their parents want/expects/wishes them to opt for and the kind of carrier they themselves wish to get into.
Choosing among the two of these choices makes it very difficult for them to regulate their emotions which enables/leads to many cognitive distortions.
Family discord or sibling rivalry: Conflicts between parents, extended family or sibling rivalry also gives a hard time on the mental status of a teenager or youth. They might seem revolving around their own world and not bothered about what’s happening in their surroundings, however they are aware and find that daunting and vexatious.
Parental and family support can help individuals to cope up. Listening to them without judgement or advices gives them chance to mellow their worries and anxiety.
Though some times their psychological resilience gets affected which then need to be looked through a professional aspect.
However, altering events or serious mental health problems through a professional help of a therapist in a group or individual therapy can prevent minor issues from turning into major concerns.
INDIVIDUAL COUNSELLING THERPAY
Teenage and young adulthood is that time phase of our life span wherein they are skeptical about sharing their deepest feelings, because they feel adult world that has already let them down. And we all could relate to this in some or the other way as most of us might have gone through this at some point growing through our young age.
Being unable to express their feeling in an atmosphere where they could trust and not being judged drives them into a stage of distress, which might give birth to many issues such as addiction (alcohol, smoking, drugs or even gamming which is becoming very common in adolescents and teenagers these days specially during the time of pandemic), depression, anxiety, eating disorder and many more.
Seeking individual therapy helps them to be able to share their thoughts, ideas, feelings in a safe environment with their therapist. But it may not be easy for them to trust their therapist at the first place. Many teens are skeptical about sharing their deepest feelings with an adult they don’t know or trust, however they might also view their counsellor or therapist as a representative of an adult world, who might have let them down.
Individuals during these years of their life are at vulnerable stage of emotional and psychological development, and however their sense of identity is not yet fully formed. Specially during the age of 10 to 19 years old that is the stage of adolescents, brain that control judgment and decision-making are still developing, while the areas in charge of risk-taking and impulsive behaviours are dominant.
The professional therapist as well trained to understand this venerability providing an empathetic atmosphere to their client. Giving them their free and safe space in a one-to-one session and also importantly moving ahead only with the client’s pace helps the young clients to show trust towards their therapist or counsellor. In their individual therapy session individuals are able to work through painful or embarrassing issues.
Although the stigma surrounding mental health can still come up, yet more young individuals are becoming comfortable with talking about their mental health options with their therapist in an individual therapy session that provides them a confidential and a non-judgemental atmosphere.
The therapist of a teenager or an adolescent may also involve the family or parents of their client only with their client’s consent, which may also help the parents to learn to interact with their child in ways that support long-term, healthy social and emotional development or even create strategies for strengthening the attachment between you and your child.
Psychotherapy/ counselling sessions can help individuals to heal and learn more constructive ways to deal with the problems or issues within their life. It can also be a supportive process when going through a difficult period or when under increased stress, such as starting a new career or going through a breakup specially during the teen-age or early young adulthood.
Many studies support the significance of groups in adolescent, teenage (youth) treatment.
Brainstorming using Holistic approach through variety of modalities in a group therapy or individual therapy is well known to be effective among people specially teenagers and youngsters.
Being heard and listening to other group members gives them an insight and reassurance that they are not the only ones. The feeling of being among the others shows them a ray of light and enthusiasm to over-come their difficult situations which might seem hard/difficult or overwhelming before.
A group therapy or a psychoeducational group therapy can address multiple issues of youth such as:
- Anxiety disorders.
- Eating disorders.
- Substance abuse.
- Personality disorder
Having a safe space to address issues with peers in the safety and structure of a professionally led group, creates the chance to gain insight and learn new life strategies. Peer interaction in a Group therapy is the most powerful tool for facilitating individuals to recover, as we cannot deny the power of peers during these years of this lifespan. The cumulative experience among the participants can help all individuals no matter what stage they are in. They also provide a sense of responsibility among each other, making a commitment to work through these issues, together.
As teens progress in their treatment, it promotes self-esteem and gives them a barometer of their own personal growth.
Handing over teens, the chance to evaluate another person’s struggles from an external perspective, therefore group therapy sessions also give individuals a chance to notice the discrepancies of thoughts and beliefs in other members, that might be present in themselves as well, though less notable.
As we discussed above (in our ‘reason’ section) due to peer pressure during these years of life, social conflicts or difficulties with peers, contribute to aggravate the stress into mental illness. Being able to be open about their experiences and being honest about their struggles and emotions in a non-judgemental environment and acceptance from their peer members help them to take the edge off.
Hence these group therapies are formed/organized to facilitate youth with educational preparation and community coalescence. These groups provide the support by encouraging them to build self-esteem, skills and confidence, using psychoeducation and therapeutic activities that focuses on their social and emotional skill building in the presence of professionals who are trained and supervised to facilitate growth and development in all the group members.
Some of the examples of youth group and topics addressed:
- Anxiety Group
- Substance Abuse
- Developing positive self-image
- Anger management
- Understanding appropriate boundaries
- Conflict resolution
- Relationship management.
- Psychoeducational group.
How- to do well out of Group Therapy?
Every member in a group holds a mirror which allows each individual to see their own reflection through other member’s eyes which helps to uncloak/root-out the unseen.
Listening to other members journey gives; motivation, encouragement and a ray of hope to other individuals. Experiencing through their successful stories’ individuals get to identify their cognitive distortions and make plans to challenge their own problems and issues.
Meeting different people of the group facilitates individual to improve their social skills and come out of their isolation and also give the opportunity to practice re-engaging with people.
Groups motivates to contribute. However, it is believed even during days when a person doesn’t want to share or talk, making their share of contribution by participating helps them to gain insight. As it is believed and said the more you contribute, the more you’ll get out of it.
Gunjan Arya (Counselling Psychologist)