Adolescence, a period marked by rapid physical growth and psychological development, can be challenging to the individual, parents, and other caregivers. The main task of this period is the development of a stable sense of self and purpose.
Coupling the natural shedding of a dependent self and the emergence of a unique interdependent self with rapid physical, physiological, and neural changes can bed disorienting, anxiety-provoking, and overwhelming. It is little wonder that mental, personality, and substance use disorders have their onset in adolescence.
I work with adolescents from a developmental perspective to help them better understand their experiences, especially the ambivalence toward their parents and caregivers. The emergence of a stable self is critical to mental health, interpersonal relationship, and optimal functioning. Therefore, I use the lens of identity development—individuation (self) and differentiation (uniqueness)—to help adolescents work through their challenges.
Areas of focus to support the emergence of an integrated, socially interdependent self-identity include:
- Stressor management (e.g., self-awareness, initiative, responsibility)
- Positive self-perception (e.g., self-worth, strengths orientation, achievement)
- Self-acceptance (e.g., positive beliefs about self, self-validation, self-empathy)
- Emotion-regulation (e.g., self-awareness, empathy, self-soothing, altruism)
- Self-regulation (e.g., aspirations, goal setting, intrinsic motivation, delayed gratification)
- Self-enhancement (e.g., values, purpose, boundaries, self-care)
People experience challenges when the demands new or existing situations place on them exceed their ability to respond appropriately—to manage. Challenges do not signify weakness or a flaw in a person. The inability to manage life’s situations can result from lack or loss of energy, underdeveloped skills, or self-defeating beliefs.
That people seek counselling attests to an inborn tendency toward growth and development. Seeking help implies a commitment to achieving worthwhile goals and an awareness of a barrier to one’s progress. It means dissatisfaction with the present state and commitment to what lies beyond the barrier—the implications of achieving worthwhile goals.
People have strengths and can learn new skills. I work with people to help them identify their strengths, cause of energy drain, the skills and resources they need to better respond to their situations, and self-defeating beliefs. I help people learn how to increase energy levels, and develop skills, resources, and self-enhancing beliefs to improve their ability to manage.
Areas of focus to increase the capacity for managing life’s situations include:
- Self-identity (i.e., differentiation, individuation, values, purpose)
- Self-worth (e.g., self-acceptance, self-validation)
- Presence (e.g., mindfulness, openness, acceptance)
- Self-skills (e.g., self-awareness, emotion-regulation, self-regulation, intrinsic motivation)
- Adaptation (e.g., flexibility, ‘elasticity’, resilience)
- Beliefs (i.e., self-enhancing beliefs about self, others, world, future)
- Self-talk (i.e., self-affirming, self-empathy)
- Energy development and conservation (e.g., nutrition, sleep, exercise, relaxation)