What is going on?!
If you’re a parent of a pre-teen or a teen, you may be asking yourself:
What is happening?
Am I going crazy?
Are they going crazy?
What happened to my sweet child?
Will things get better?
What am I doing wrong?
Why won’t they listen?
Why do they make these decisions?
Well, you are not alone! And most likely, both you and your teen are not going mad. So, take a deep breath, and let’s talk teens:
First, let’s start with some brain science in the video below (don’t worry, this is interesting)
It’s all about their brain chemistry! Specifically, dopamine.
Dopamine- is a neurotransmitter and helps with the release of other hormones. (Brainstorm, Dan Siegel). It’s the manager of the reward and pleasure department in your child’s brain. The teenage brain gets a surge of dopamine, leading to impulsiveness and hyperrationality (looking at facts without the big picture).
So, what do we do during this time and how does therapy help us through this time?
Through the therapy process, we work towards encouraging the development of the higher centers of the brain to help redirect urges, regulate through tough emotions, and encourage their authentic selves to come through.
It’s important that teens feel they can trust their therapist, that the therapy is about what they want to work on or talk about, and that the therapist ‘gets’ them.
So what are you doing in therapy with my teen?
We are AUTHENTIC: we are ourselves and create a genuine trusting, non-judgmental relationship with them. This encourages them to move toward their own authentic selves and build intuition and confidence.
We MODEL REGULATION: We listen to what’s going on in their lives, what’s important to them, and we model ways to regulate through tough emotional experiences. We get a felt sense of that it’s like to be them from their perspective.
We assess their EMOTIONAL AGE as well as their chronological age. An individual’s emotional age is actually even more important than their chronological age. We use that information to make appropriate therapeutic interventions to help them address their emotional needs.