Illustration of teen sitting on bench under stars

Therapy for teens: helping adolescents discover more about who they are and their desired place in the world

As a teen therapist, I am aware of how the emerging desire for autonomy, struggles to discover his or her place in the world, changing family and peer relationships, questioning of gender expression and sexual orientation, can all be a part of an evolving self-identity. Teens, especially younger ones, are in a middle stage of leaving childhood and having to take on more responsibilities, while not yet able to determine their own desired path independently. Teens are faced with middle and high school, as they can leave behind a simpler and more familiar social network and place in the family. In today’s world, teens also have an ongoing relationship with social media and can experience both connection and isolation that are created from these intense, virtual interactions. The way others in their world accept and recognize a unique, developing sense of self can be crucial in building a teen’s positive self-concept.

Illustration of boy looking at sun through trees

Increasing self-identify through talk and art therapy: using creative forms of expression to celebrate strengths and highlight self-competency​

Therapy with teens can take the form of mostly talk therapy, or art therapy can also be used to encourage a safer and at times more preferred way to work through and express emotional conflicts. Within the art process and opportunity to discuss afterwards, it is up to the teen how much is to be shared. Art therapy can be a way to acknowledge strengths and uncover successful ways of coping that resonate with personal goals. I enjoy engaging with teens in expressive arts therapy as well, and we can use storytelling, music, writing, and other creative means of expression in order to define obstacles and reinforce the desired qualities and choices of the person he or she aspires to be.

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