If you were given the chance to go back in time and revisit your high school experience, would you? I can hear my teen clients saying that going back would be “cringe”. With the school year upon us, I have found myself reflecting on the number of parallels I share with my teen clients as they begin yet another year of school. Reflecting back on the challenges of graduating high school and then college, entering the job market after a recession and again graduating from a Master program only to enter back into the work force during a pandemic. Each school year comes with its own set of challenges and teens may not be able to understand or articulate their needs very well.
Teens do, however, have dialogue within themselves and amongst their peers. They are often fearful or ambivalent about having these conversations with the adults in their life. Parents, caregivers and teachers may find this disconnect between needs and solutions to be very frustrating. If your teen is not talking to you, it doesn’t automatically mean that you are doing anything “wrong.” Having worked with teens in a variety of settings I have witnessed that social and emotional growth occurs in waves. Each teen has their own unique ebbs and flow on their journey toward adulthood; demonstrating in their own way what they’re doing to change the narrative on emotional and mental health. Sometimes a teen can get stuck on the journey and the work to change may leave them retreating into themselves, shutting out those closest to them. A parent knows their child best and opening up lines of communication can be hard work. Professional health with a therapist can aide in avoiding deeper issues that come with depression or anxiety.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I leave you with this quote by Frida Kahlo, “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” May this school year, for all families, be one of evolution, flexibility and inspiration as you and your family navigate it together.
Stay tuned this month as we launch a support group for teens, adol-SENSE: Trying to make sense of their worlds.
Leana Gutierrez, MA, AMFT #123536 focuses on integration of intersecting identities and political/social issues that arise in all families. Leana can be reached at 805.991.2351 or email@example.com.
Leana is supervised by Kimberly Prendergast, LMFT #37448