Some of my earliest clients in my Teen Therapy practice are now 30 years old.
Since I have an open-door policy, previous clients have continued to return as they have encountered new developmental challenges; like leaving for college, their first apartment, their first job, and their first love.
Over the span of 15 years, I have noticed a growing trend that I find concerning. Many young people are getting burnt-out, over-stimulated by the bombardment of information and constant connection available through technology. Add to this the concerted effort they just put in to create the perfect college application, SAT scores, essays and grades, and you have a recipe for them shutting down, or tipping over, as they enter or leave college.
I’ve often seen bright college students, who successfully completed AP courses and got accepted to top name schools, failing out of their first year. Unfortunately, they never cultivated the social and emotional coping-skills necessary to thrive, as they were too busy to truly examine what wasn’t working in their lives, and how they might respond more effectively. Pushing to always “do” more, they lost their ability to self-reflect along the way.
So they turned to drugs, video-games, binge-watching Netflix, and casual sex to distract themselves from their stress. They then carried these incomplete coping skills into their college classwork, relationships, and jobs. Now, they can’t tolerate the boredom of a repetitious task. They don’t have the patience to wait for a desired outcome. They don’t know how to communicate their wants and needs in a graceful manner, so they blow-up relationships with bosses, coworkers and friends, or worse, they suffer in silence.
Clearly, this is not true for every young-adult. But there are many who are suffering. If you are a parent reading this, you know what I’m referring to. Life is not the same as when you were growing up. Children are expected to prepare for college starting as early as middle-school. After-school sports no longer teach team-building skills for the average athlete, but are instead gateways for athletic scholarships. Summers are used to pad college applications with internships, jobs and advanced classes. Kids are being pushed to excel just to earn a chance at a college admission.
In my experience, it’s clear that today’s youth are missing out on opportunities that help cultivate their character strengths, social, and emotional intelligence. This is what I am advocating. This is what I’m offering. This is why I say that there isn’t a young person in America today, who wouldn’t benefit from working with a mentor, coach, or therapist.
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Taking the Trouble out of the Teen Years
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