coping with overwhelming change

Adolescence is one of the more challenging phases of life as they experience so much change all at once. Hormones trigger physical growth; academic and social pressures increase; expectations change at home and at school; dating and sexuality emerge; and a more cognitively, emotionally mature sense of self begins to develop. Teens are discovering their personal power for the first time, and often struggle with how to effectively use assertiveness to communicate their needs, resolve conflict amicably, and make beneficial choices. At the same time, parents have new demands placed on long-established roles, and often struggle to adjust their parenting approach. The entire family shifts as the adolescent develops and strives for autonomy, making for one of the most challenging stages in the life of any family.

Engaging teens in therapy requires a casual, respectful, and honest style.....a style they can relate to. Teens typically expect therapists to be extensions of their parents with similar parent/child dynamics. Because we specialize in working with teens, we are able to establish rapport that feels natural to them, establishing a collaborative and productive therapeutic experience. Therapeutic models that incorporate music, athletics, art, movies, and other client specific interests help to create a relatable context for teens to progress, heal, and grow. Find out when to consult a teen therapist.

Teen Therapy


ADHD impacts systems in the brain that involve executive functions responsible for judgment, inhibition, working memory, organization, attention, focus, planning, and time management. ADHD affects the front part of the brain (frontal lobes) which are under-active during activities involving problem solving, memory, concentration, and decision-making. Learning and integrating new information become problematic as attention quickly fades in and out.

Self-esteem is an important treatment focus as teens with ADHD receive a great deal or corrective feedback, which can erode the self-esteem and manifest in sadness, anger, defiance and anxiety. Repeated daily messages like your late again; how does a smart kid like you get C’s and D’s; no homework again; don’t you have a test to study for; detention for talking in class again; you lost____again; how many times to I have to tell you....; and seems like all you do is play video games can affect your teen’s mood and how they feel about themselves. Teens that have ADHD are more likely to use marijuana and to be drawn to underachieving peer groups.


Inattentive Symptoms:

  • Forgetful
  • Often loses things
  • Poor time management
  • Short attention span
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Poor organizational skills
  • Easily distracted
  • Excessive daydreaming
  • Unable to complete multi-step directions

Hyperactive/Impulsive Symptoms:

  • Can’t sit still/fidgets
  • Needs to be constantly moving
  • Interrupts and blurts out answers
  • Excessive restlessness
  • Difficulty with taking turns
  • Difficulty during unstructured activities (recess, PE)
  • Overly talkative
  • Poor social problem solving skills

How We Help:

As children grow, the hyperactive piece of ADHD starts to wane giving way to a more ADD presentation where attention struggles are prominent. By high school, many of the jumping bean guys have become more sedate and are not overtly hyperactive. Despite a reduction in hyperactivity, school problems persist and parent/teen stress begins to rise. Through our assessment process we can help to identify attention difficulties as well as employ a plan to help teens find success and grow. Here are the steps:

  1. Meet with parents and teen to assess past and current academic, developmental, and behavioral functioning.
  2. Identify strengths as well as difficulties that need remediation and therapeutic focus.
  3. Collaboratively with parents and teen: establish daily structure and routine; set realistic yet challenging expectations/goals that will promote progress; set clear boundaries that will encourage responsible choices and sound judgment; and improve communication to foster positive communication skills and conflict resolution.
  4. Ongoing evaluation of goal achievement to ensure positive change and progress.
Social Difficulties
Teen Depression
A close-up of many hands in a circle clasping together in a sign of unity.

common therapeutic goals for adolescents

  • Managing anxiety, depression, and mood swings
  • Enhancing educational performance and motivation
  • Improving anger management and frustration tolerance
  • Dealing with social pressures and joining healthy peer groups
  • Improving judgment and making positive choices
  • Developing positive coping skills
  • Effective ways of handling peer pressure
  • Improving positive and clear communication
  • Improving compliance at home, school, and in the community
  • Developing a healthy and positive sense of self

Solution Focused Therapy for Personal Growth