“What’s Wrong With Me?”
A few years ago, a teenaged girl came to me for counseling. She felt pressure to get good grades, cultivate perfect Instagram posts, and please her parents. Anxiety, harsh self-judgment, and unrealistic expectations weighed her down. She was so overwhelmed she had panic attacks that drove her to isolate herself in the school bathroom and break down in tears.
Her parents were out of solutions. On the outside, she seemed to be doing ok. But on the inside, she felt worthless and alone.
As a mental health expert, I’m seeing these kinds of cases more often. Despite the fact that we are living in an increasingly connected world, teens (and people in general) often feel isolated and alone in their experiences. They feel inadequate and they lack a sense of genuine connection.
This is not new.
Take a minute and think about yourself as a teen. How did you see yourself? What were your struggles? Your insecurities? Do you remember the angst and insecurities that plagued these years?
Regardless of your outward presentation, whether you were shy or outgoing, you likely remember these types of feelings, because they are perfectly normal!
Despite the fact that this is a common issue among teens, it is rarely discussed at school or with friends. This can create a negative spiral of isolation, negative-self talk, anxiety, and depression, and often contributes to family and academic struggles.
If you were lucky enough to have a strong support system where you could discuss the challenges you faced during your adolescence, you know how valuable that was.
Teens need a safe place to be able to discuss the challenges of being a teenager as well as the opportunity to learn the tools necessary to navigate these waters effectively!
Creating Community Through Group Therapy
This is why I started Teen Groups at Elevate Counseling. A group therapy experience gives teens the opportunity to share their thoughts, give advice, receive support and feel a sense of community and belonging under the supervision and direction of a licensed professional.
How can group therapy help your teen?
Groups are really valuable for teens because they are at a developmental stage where connecting with each other is a priority and it provides a powerful place to learn and practice new skills in a safe environment in order to catalyze change.
If Your Teen:
- Seems Anxious or Depressed
- Is unnecessarily hard on themselves or limits him or herself due to fear of failure
- Feels that they are different than their peers
- Needs an active support system
Group Will Help Them:
- Cope with difficult feelings in a healthy way
- Feel comfortable taking appropriate risks and recognize that “readjusting” does not mean “failure”
- Create and maintain healthy relationships
- Begin to challenge irrational thoughts and shift inflexible thinking
- Connect with other kids who understand the challenges and frustrations of being a teen today
Opening up the lines of communication with peers and learning ways to manage stress can be a quick and effective way to shift thought, gain perspective, and make lasting change.