adolescents and young people (ages 12 - 24)
why is adolescence and young adulthood
Teenagers and adults often don't see eye to eye, but now we are beginning to understand why with the help of the latest brain imaging techniques. Scientists once thought that the brain's main development ended after the first few years of life. Current findings, however indicate that important brain regions undergo refinement through adolescence and at least into a person's twenties. Neuroscientists can now map brain tissue growth-spurts and losses (also called "pruning"). This has allowed us to understand that an adolescent or young adult's brain is very much in a process of flux which in turn can cause many dramatic and difficult issues for that young person and their family.
Although adolescence is often characterised by increased independence and a desire for knowledge and exploration, it is also a time when brain changes can result in high-risk behaviours, addiction vulnerability, and mental illness, especially whilst different areas of the brain are maturing at different rates. Teenagers can often become confused about this natural urge to separate from their parents.
Atypical brain changes and behaviours can also appear in adolescence. Many adolescents are reported by their parents to suffer from severe emotional or behavioural difficulties at and around the onset of adolescence. These difficulties may persist throughout development and if left untreated, can lead to more serious and prolonged mental illnesses.
working with adolescents and young adults
As with younger children, our approach varies depending on circumstances and age. Much of the time, adolescents and young adults wish to have sessions without their parents being directly involved. Sometimes though, parents do get involved either with separate sessions or they are invited into sessions by their son or daughter after discussion with me. Whichever way we work, we often make connections with the young person's wider network, including teachers and other adults involved in their care.
why do adolescents and young adults come to therapy?
Young people come to therapy for many different reasons; they may for example, feel worried, depressed, or angry. However teenagers often feel simply confused, irritable or begin getting into trouble in or outside the home or can start to exhibit self-destructive behaviour. Young people may refer themselves for therapy or their parent, school or doctor will refer them.
materials and activities
The materials we use with this age group are very similar to those with younger children (click here to go back to the child 4-11 section to see what those materials are) although of course what is produced is often more complex and sophisticated.
what is psychotherapy about?
Similarly to our work with younger children, we try to help adolescents and young people find a way of expressing and vocalising their feelings and at the same time, enhance cognitive functions. Creative activities can really help thinking, exploration, rehearsing possibilities, discussion and questioning and creative, metaphoric work can be a way of feeling at a "safe" distance (not too far and not too close) from overwhelming emotions which may have produced anxiety, anger, sadness and depression or confusion. Alongside all the changes going on in an adolescent or young adult's brain, the ability to think becomes clouded and difficult and feelings can seem at times impossible to bear. I try to make more sense of those feelings by helping to make links between feelings (emotions) and thoughts (cognitions).