Jungian Psychotherapy For Adolescents
Teens are not adults yet, but they are not children. It is an in-between place, which is a difficult place to be. It is their job to differentiate from their parents and that is hard enough. There are additional pressures to excel in school, make friends and have a social life. Teens struggle with accepting, or even listening to their genuine concerns and feelings especially when who they are does not seem to fit or comply with outer expectations. Teens are challenged to navigate their time and energy constructively while still having fun, being creative and exploring their interests — the seeds of vocation. There are often extreme academic pressures, family pressures and challenges, and peer problems, which can over burden even the most earnest teen-ager.
Teens often vacillate between needing parental support and pushing any help away, sometimes taking risks and behaving in ways that are alarming and infuriating. That in-between place is hard on their parents, too.
Psychotherapy can be a potent intervention! It is hard to remember that while teens may look, and sometimes act, grown up, their brains are not fully developed, and they simply cannot perform as adults yet since their executive function is, literally, still developing! Therefore, part of the treatment is to help the teen understand and become more aware of their internal and external stressors and coping strategies, and provide more constructive, and life enhancing, internal and external resources. In time, the teen learns not to get so flooded by emotions. It is a process of cultivating a sense of agency, cultivating self-esteem, and alleviating the burden of performing. Psychotherapy helps the teen to be real. Being oneself is the best way to proceed on the threshold of adulthood.
Young adults leaving home for the first time often go through a transition period that is exciting and challenging…they may feel helpless and alone, overwhelmed in college, struggling with their first living situation away from home; or coping with a new love interest, or relationship; or friendship tensions; or a new job or unemployment; or social anxiety or home sickness, and more. Leaving home for the first time is naturally a confusing and strange time! In psychotherapy the teen-ager and young adult will find a safe place to dwell in some of the challenges. Having a person to talk to who is able to listen and to invite creative ways to deal with stressful problems can be very helpful in the process of growing into adulthood.
A Note on COVID
The pandemic has introduced new familial stressors, as well as collective and cultural barriers to healthy emotional development. During the pandemic people have suffered social deprivation. Learning from a distance, or in school with many constraints, and sometimes un-named fears, constricts the teen and young adult from cultivating their peer family, a process that is vital for self-esteem and sense of belonging.
Young people often do not have as much support at home with parents and siblings also coping and trying to adjust. Young people often do not have the psychic armature or skills, to deal with so much loss, adjustment and sense of alienation.
Psychotherapy is an optimal setting for the young person to sort out their feelings, and grieve what some might not even realize they’ve lost. While the situation is bigger than us, and we cannot make it go away, young people can find help understanding what is happening inside, and develop ways of coping creatively with the cultural trauma, and myriad communal and familial effects of COVID-19.