Adolescent psychology is concerned with the special mental health requirements of teenagers (defined as individuals between 10 and 19 years of age).
Many people have a preconceived notion of what traditional talk therapy looks like with adults, and they may have a preconceived notion of what play therapy looks like with young children. Adolescents are a separate group, no longer children but not yet adults, with particular requirements.
Working in adolescent psychology entails taking into account the unique demands of a person whose brain has progressed beyond childhood but has not yet fully evolved into maturity.
The History of Adolescent Psychology
Adolescence is a relatively recent term, having just been acknowledged in the United States in the late nineteenth century. Adolescents were once regarded as “miniature grownups.”
Decades of studies have demonstrated that teenagers experience considerable brain development, which influences their behavior and functioning throughout this stage. As a result, some important psychologists created ideas regarding teenage development and the psychological demands of this age group.
What Is Typical Teen Behavior?
“How do I know what is typical teen behavior?” is a common question for parents. Although it is normal for teenagers to question their parents, push back on limits, and go through “growing pains” as they establish their sense of self, it may be difficult for parents to recognize what goes beyond of that spectrum of normal development.
Parents may struggle to strike a balance between maintaining appropriate limits and cultivating positive relationships with their teenagers.
There is no set criterion for seeking more assistance. “Rebellious conduct” may indicate that the kid is seeking assistance but lacks the communication skills to do it. The primary care physician is a good resource for developing appropriate behavior as well as referrals to an appropriate therapist.
If a parent is unsure if therapy could be useful, or if an adolescent has requested to visit a therapist, it may be advantageous to schedule an initial session with a therapist to address these concerns. There is no set criterion for seeking more assistance.
Therapy With Adolescents
Because teenage brains differ from adult brains, adolescent treatment does not appear the same as adult therapy.
Parents should keep the following things in mind if their adolescent is in therapy:
Relationship is key. The most critical aspect of any therapy interaction, especially with teenagers, is trust and rapport with the therapist. This implies that the adolescent must have a therapist in whom they can put their faith and with whom they get along.
Privacy and confidentiality are essential. Many parents are curious about what happens during their teen’s therapy sessions. Curiosity is normal; but, insisting on the teen or therapist disclosing material from sessions can frequently cause more harm than good. The laws differ by state, but parents may have access to this information. In this scenario, assuring the teenager that their parent would respect their privacy will allow them to participate in and profit from their sessions.
The therapist will address safety concerns. Therapists are mandated reporters, which means they must report child abuse. Therapists must also reveal whether a client is actively suicidal or intends to harm another person. A combined session at the outset of treatment can be beneficial in addressing the limitations of confidentiality and determining exactly what information will or will not be shared with parents.
Therapy with adolescents is different than therapy with adults. Parents may be anxious that their adolescent is “simply talking” with the therapist. Because the therapeutic relationship is so vital, any issue that is relevant to the teenager should be discussed in their session. As a result, “simply talking” does not exist. Allowing kids to pick the subjects covered frequently builds the framework for them to “go further” later on since they feel secure with their therapist. Similarly, depending on the adolescent’s developmental stage, they may form relationships in their sessions by playing games. All of this is appropriate and therapeutic.
It is OK if your teen needs therapy. No parent is perfect, and no parent can control everything that occurs to their child. Recognizing that the teenager need counseling and assistance from professionals other than the parents is part of successful parenting and does not imply that the parent has “failed” their child in any way.
Adolescents’ requirements differ from those of younger children and adults. It is critical to understand their specific stage of life and meet them where they are when identifying their psychological requirements and offering appropriate treatment.