Teenagers today struggle with issues of independence and identity, parents and peer relationships, looks, succeeding, as teens always have. But today there’s often more permissiveness, more drugs, more sex in their environment. Frequently, even when they say they like this freedom, it leaves them more anxious, and confused about what they think, what they want, and how to feel okay with themselves.
Eating disorders, cutting, disrupted family relationships, even the death of peers is part of what teens deal with today.
Most teenagers I work with need a safe place to talk and to sort things out, a place where they don’t feel afraid of evoking reactions.“I couldn’t tell my parents this; they would get too upset,” is not uncommon for teenagers to say. Often the work I do with teenagers is to help them get some clarity about their relationships and needs, and to define goals that are meaningful to them.
I meet with parents to get their perspective but I try to give teenagers a chance to speak in confidence. I discuss exceptions to this practice with the individual teenager and his or her parents.