"How do I weather my teenager's behaviour when I'm so worried… and/or so angry?"


Psychotherapy helps adolescents learn to process more of their emotions, thoughts and struggles, and to take responsibility for the direction they are taking. Psychotherapy strengthens and develops the adolescent’s skills and strategies for managing life. Psychotherapy can also provide support for HSC preparation and exams.


Adolescence is a time of significant cognitive development, body changes and developing sexuality. The teen seesaws between childhood and maturity: amidst grief for what is lost and fear of what is ahead. There is a desire to differentiate oneself from parents and develop a sense of identity. The external environment includes academic, peer, media, and society pressure, with cultural and counter-cultural messages relating to sexuality, body image, drugs, alcohol and ‘outsider’ behaviour. Typically there are times when there is more happening in the adolescent's life (internally and externally) than he/she is able to process. Moodiness and/or provocative behaviour results. It can be a turbulent and chaotic time.


Modern adolescence has been likened to as a long, circuitous, car journey from childhood to adulthood, as opposed to the shorter, predictable, more-controlled train journey characteristic of adolescence a couple of generations ago. This modern car journey provides more freedom and less structure in which some adolescents creatively experiment and grow. For some there are break-downs and wild detours, depending on who is in the car with them, the engine they have inherited and the supplies they have managed to load into the car before they started on this trip. The parents' influence is still very significant but now somewhat indirect. Communication back from the teenager is hard to read. Sometimes, teenagers communicate by evoking in you the very emotion that they would be flooded with if they weren't so skilled at passing it over to you. Is your teenager making you feel extremely anxious or angry or scared? Then maybe he/she is feeling anxious or angry or scared. Your emotions may, in fact, be a good barometer of how he/she is traveling and of whether intervention is warranted.


Mood swings, heightened anxiety, risk-taking behaviour, self-harm, shaky self-esteem and poor motivation can be products of the interaction between the adolescent’s internal world and external pressures and the lived experiences to date.


Working with parents is always a part of the treatment process when working with adolescents. See the section on “Parents”.