Stress responds well to counselling and psychotherapy, when combined with a practical toolbox. Your child could come out with more confidence and an approach to stress to last a lifetime
It’s tempting,sometimes, to think back to those years of being an adolescent or teenager, reminiscing about the exploration of alcohol at beer-soaked parties, those early and fumbling first sexual experiences and the sense that life was going to an everlasting upward curve, where bad things only happened to other people.
It’s easy to forget that those times were also a period of great uncertainty, fear and trepidation. Being a teenager is probably one of the most difficult phases of life to deal with and my practice is heavily populated, every week, by adolescents and teenagers, in Reading and Oxford, for whom it can often seem too much to bear.
I also offer counselling and psychotherapy for stress online, using vsee, whatsapp, zoom. Please get in touch for details.
Teenagers and adolescents are physically changing and as they do so they look around and compare themselves to others. ‘Am I pretty / handsome / thin / tall / athletic enough?’ What if they discover that their body’s shape and size doesn’t match up to modern fashions or isn’t quite as good as his or hers?
Genitals change, secondary sexual characteristics develop. Are they normal? Nobody dares ask and yet everybody looks for clues, anxiously scanning those around them for clues as to precisely what normal might be.
It becomes a competition wherein those who hit puberty earlier than others feel different to the rest. Those who mature later feel different to the rest. It’s all about judgement, fear, self-critique and the worry that bodies will never be a source of comfort and security as they were when younger.
Infants find that their bodies are interesting things to explore. Toddlers begin to master the different possibilities which having a body brings them. Yong children in the ‘latency’ phase (7 to 11, approx) generally enjoy the sensory and physical fun which knowing how to use their bodies brings them. Puberty brings with it the possibility that the body can be a source of shame, embarrassment and inadequacy. It’s tragic but it’s true.
Therapy can help them to overcome such a thing but it’s a real shame that it has to be this way at all.
Along with the physical changes comes the reorientation of the child’s attachment patterns from parents and towards friends and romantic partners. Again, this is a minefield of rejection, fear and inexperience. Friends are as full of fear, emotional volatility and the perceived need to compete for popularity, prizes and partners as the teenager him or herself. Hearts are broken, friendships are threatened and bullying can be rampant. Teenagers and their fragile sense of self can find this an utterly fearful time to be alive. Where in the pecking order do they stand and, if too low, how do they escape?
Then there’s everything else as well
There are the constant references to exams which students are informed will decide their future for better or worse. There’s the growing sense of psychological independence contrasting with continued economic dependence and a complete lack of control over their own lives – at least during term-time. University courses have to be chosen in the knowledge that a sea of debt awaits them. They may also be aware that the prospect of owning their own home is moving ever further beyond the means of people in their twenties.
Social media means that home is no longer any refuge from the endless comparisons, fears, social pressures and, potentially, bullying. Parents, of course, bring their own problems, being hopelessly out of touch, controlling and knowing absolutely nothing of any value about anything at all. You know how that goes…
Siblings can be critical and hurtful competitors, knowing way too much and being indiscreet with the power this gives them. Unhappy parental marriages, divorce and split, then blended, families are other sources of stress and anxiety. It’s being so close to adulthood that you can taste it and yet you’re never quite allowed to experience it properly. Everything and everyone stands in the way. It’s like having a car and yet not having a licence, all the while trying to bat away the inconvenient knowledge that you don’t yet know how to drive it anyway.
The media tells teenagers that these are the best years of their lives. Shiny, happy and successful teenagers are beamed onto their screens 24/7. Everything tells them that these years should be the peak of what it is to be alive. There’s a conspiracy of silence because very few of their peers will ever be courageous enough to be the first to say: “I’m finding this bloody difficult!” They all put on the mask and think that everybody else’s mask is the real deal they ought to be feeling and living for themselves.
Resolved! Counselling for Children could help them
Get in touch to find out how. I could help your son or daughter to find ways of managing stress, to compare themselves more kindly to others around them and to take greater pride in their strengths than shame at those things they haven’t quite mastered, yet.
What’s more, I can combine all of the child and adolescent approaches commonly used with practical, solution-focused toolkits which teach them to manage, accept and thrive within the stressful environment in which they find themselves. They can begin to feel as if they can swim, rather than being condemned to believe that they must surely sink.
If you live in or around Oxford or Reading (or have older children happy to work online) and if you’d like to find out more of how I work, give me a call on 07786123736 / 01865600970 / 01183280284. Alternatively you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form in the footer of this page.
I look forward to hearing from you.