Adolescents and Young Adults

Adolescence and the transition to adulthood can often be challenging, especially if a young person has had to contend with significant losses or stresses during their early life or has not experienced a secure sense of belonging or the support and encouragement to prosper. The experience of these kinds of hardships -- whether debilitating life experiences or the absence of adequate  nurturing -- can compound the existential and developmental challenges that are often experienced in the transition to adulthood.

Even without other complicating factors, this transition may evoke insecurities -- not only for young persons, but for their parents. Concerned with questions such as "Am I preparing my child adequately to be successful, to avoid hardship and protect themselves?" parents often rely on and try to enforce prescriptions for "success" they've derived from their own lives. Since the path to adulthood is often influenced by factors such as a child's temperament, interests or needs, these prescriptions, however well intended, are not always helpful.

Sensing that their parent’s guidance may be compelled by anxiety, rather than a desire to help them pursue a life based upon their own wishes or predilections, a teen may withdraw to retain or preserve a focus on themselves, or reject their parent's guidance. This can lead to painful fissures in family intimacy, or a rejection of a parent’s unbiased support, even among children and parents who are close.

Some teenagers approach early adulthood eagerly. Other fear  the responsibilities becoming older, especially those still learning to manage the basic aspects of their daily lives. Compelled by either the urging of their parents or “maps” they have adopted from others that stress the importance of academic, vocational or economic achievement more than personal aspirations, some teenagers may pursue goals for themselves that are dictated much more by others than their own dreams for their lives. If they depart from the expectations of their families in the process of individuation, they may experience relief, but also anxiety and confusion. Simply following others directives may also become problematic.

Whatever your child’s needs, psychotherapy can assist him or her to respond to these difficulties with more ease and confidence. Psychotherapy can focus on your adolescent’s needs, providing them with the spaciousness they need to reflect on their choices, process their feelings and develop strategies for resolving any problems they are experiencing in their lives. It can also provide a therapeutic forum for your family if needed.

If you are seeking assistance for your child or for your family, I would welcome your call. If I cannot assist you, or meet the needs of both your adolescent and family, I would be pleased to help you in identifying other clinicians in San Francisco, Alameda or the East Bay capable of providing the support you are seeking.