JUST NOT FITTING IN?
Psychiatrist for Teens
Teenagers are developing the building blocks of their adult selves.
What Teens Need
During a teen’s journey to becoming an adult, increasing independence, self-expression, experimenting with different identities, rapidly shifting interests, and varying responses to constraints are normal but frequently challenging aspects of their exploration. It’s important that they have freedom, permission and encouragement to explore and express themselves, yet because their brains are not fully developed they need gentle, yet firm, guidance along the paths they choose. Teens need a lens to the options and opportunities, as well as awareness of the pitfalls and traps they may encounter.
Challenges Teens Face
The teen years are also a time of greater independence which can rapidly lead to significant environmental hazards and exposure. This independence can paradoxically lead to situations where exploration can feel overwhelming and teens may detour to concerning changes in behavior. These changes can be secondary to mood and/or anxiety conditions, excessive risk taking, or substance use. Trauma related to prior life events can often come more to the forefront at this time. Teenagers may also experience distress from traumatic experiences with peers, illness or loss of friend and family members.
My Approach as your Teen’s Psychiatrist
I have found that working with teenagers requires much sensitivity. Establishing a therapeutic relationship requires balancing the confidentiality which is at the forefront of many teen minds with the appropriately concerned parents and families who are often asking for ‘full disclosure’. Successfully negotiating this balance requires experience, sensitivity and patience. The therapeutic relationship with teens also requires a great deal of knowledge of their current popular culture, and the ability to put the cultural norms and fads into an appropriate context.
Teenagers are complex individuals. Treatment options for teenagers are broad and may include different focuses of psychotherapy as psychodynamic, short or longer term, cognitive-behavioral, or mindfulness based approaches. It can be helpful or necessary to also work with schools to review assessments and establish collaborative educational plans. Additionally, as this is a time in life that is highly vulnerable to the onset of clinical depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder and other clinical anxieties, or identification of ADHD, medication may be discussed.