Children & Teenagers

Navigating Through Childhood and Adolescent Years

Anyone who is raising a preteen or teenager or who has been around them long enough has likely seen the emotional rollercoaster that comes with the teenage years. Sometimes this rollercoaster is pure joy and brings excitement, pride, and thrill, whereas other times the rollercoaster is not so fun and can bring anxiety, anger, and frustration. The period of adolescence brings on many challenges for the teen and in turn for the family around them. Hormones are raging, their bodies are going through a crazy transformation, their brains are developing, they are trying to figure out how this world works and what their place is in it, all at the same time having to live and abide by the rules of their caregivers and society. In addition to the physical aspects they are faced with also comes substantial peer pressure, academics, relationships, identity issues and learning to drive - just to name a few. 

Any of these normal components of development can cause a teenager to develop behavioral or emotional issues. When you combine any of these components of development with any additional stress or trauma, some teens are unable to handle it and they develop an array of emotional challenges such as isolating, acting out, drug use, talking back, eating disorders, hanging out with negative peers, self harm and so on. In some instances these behaviors can develop over time and in other instances they develop suddenly. Sometimes the underlining cause is evident, such as a death in the family or divorce, and at other times a family can rack their brains to figure out what is going on. In any case the emotional challenges can cause significant distress for the teen as well as for the entire family.

Individual and or family therapy can help to decrease the emotional challenges and the rollercoaster ride. Where a teenager will always be “moody” at times or want to withdraw at times due to the normal processes of development, when these behaviors begin to significantly impact the youth or family, support can be helpful. I have been working with teenagers and their families and understand first hand how challenging it can be when teenagers experience emotional difficulties. I love working with teens and believe that the teen years are one of the most exciting times in development. 

The types of emotional challenges I have treated in teenagers has varied substantially and include severe emotional disturbance, academic issues, depression, anxiety, abuse and trauma, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual acting out, self-injurious behaviors, peer challenges, self esteem issues, family conflict, running away, isolating behaviors, destruction of property, and school refusal to name some. I have worked in a variety of settings with teenagers including community based programs, residential programs, community college settings, clinic settings, and outpatient programs. I believe that a child or youth has the best chance for success if their parents or guardians have involvement in therapy and therefore I believe in family therapy in conjunction with individual therapy for the youth or child. 

Contact me to set up a consultation to see how I can support you or a loved one at 805-427-5183 

​© 2023 by Lousie Barnett