Attitude is Key: Helping Your Teen Accept Emotional Responsibility
As a teen therapist, I have found that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective methods for treating anxiety and depression. The specific form of CBT that I use is known as Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT).
A core principle in REBT is that teenagers are ultimately responsible for their own emotional life.
The founder of REBT, Albert Ellis, once wrote:
"The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own emotional destiny.”
What does it mean to take responsibility of one's emotional life? It means that a teenager acknowledges and even embraces the idea that they are primarily responsible for the way they feel through the attitudes that they hold towards the events in their life.
When accepting emotional responsibility, attitude is key. A teen's attitude refers to the underlying framework or lens (e.g., belief) that influences how events are interpreted.
Inflexible Attitudes in Teenagers
In REBT, an attitude can be flexible or inflexible. An inflexible attitude is considered an unhealthy attitude. In an inflexible attitude, a teenager's beliefs and thoughts are rigid.
Inflexible attitudes include the belief that things must go a certain way or else a disaster has happened. An example of an inflexible attitude is a teenager that believes he must have a girlfriend to be happy and ok with himself. Inflexible attitudes usually come across like demands:
I must have x, y or z or I'll be miserable.
I need x, y or z to happen or I'll be depressed.
Inflexible attitudes create unrealistic expectations for teenagers.
Flexible attitudes still include desires and preferences, but they do not make demands. They also acknowledge that something negative could occur or that something positive may not be possible.
A teen boy with a flexible attitude may prefer to be in a romantic relationship. He may desire this and see the positive benefits of a relationship. However, he also recognizes that there are factors in a relationship that are out of his control.
I need a girlfriend. If I don't get one I'll be miserable and a loser! If a girl rejects me I don't know how I'll keep going.
I'd like a girlfriend. I recognize that having a girlfriend is not a guarantee. If I'm rejected by a girl, it will sting but it doesn't have to impact my sense of worth or happiness.
Accepting Emotional Responsibility
Psychologist Walter Matweychuk writes that we accept emotional responsibility by recognizing that the attitudes we hold are in our control. Teenagers are going to face adversity and disturbance. Teens will experience negative emotions including sadness, frustration, concern and remorse.
These emotions are natural and automatic, not really in a teen's control. What creates real despair and emotional struggle is the inflexible attitude a teen brings to a difficult situation.
If he/she interprets what happens to them through the lens of a rigid belief, they will likely struggle emotionally. We can help our teens by helping them to see how they are contributing to their own struggle through their inflexible attitudes.
Teen Therapy Can Help
One of the most effective ways to help your teen challenge their inflexible beliefs is by signing them up for teen therapy. A teen therapist is trained to help teenagers gain a firmer grasp on their core inflexible attitudes.
A teen therapist can work with your teen to change their attitudes and develop a more flexible approach to negative situations.
Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Specialists in Teen Counseling in Katy, Tx & Houston
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we utilize those teen therapy and family counseling approaches that are supported by research.
With teen and young adult mental health reaching national emergency levels according to the American Association of Pediatrics, there has never been a greater need for therapists who specialize in teen counseling and family therapy.
If your teen is struggling and you are ready to meet with a specialist in teen therapy, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC.
Meet with one of our teen therapists
Draw on our expertise to help your teen learn to thrive again!
Other Teen Therapy, Family Counseling, & Young Adult Therapy Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we also provide other counseling and therapeutic services. We have therapists who also specialize in marriage counseling and couples therapy.
While not intended, it can be stressful parenting a teen who is struggling. We want the best for our teen and to see them hurting causes us to hurt as parents. As a result, it can sometimes create strain on the relationship. Our marriage counselors and couples therapists can help.
We also provide other counseling and therapeutic services for teens, young adults, & families at our Katy, Tx location:
Board Certified Neurofeedback
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
About the Author
Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Quique specializes in teen therapy and helping teens build upon their innate strengths while developing skills and tools to overcome trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD, and more.
Quique views each individual through that lens and provides therapy for the family system which includes: teen therapy, young adult counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling & couples therapy.
Quique also has a passion for helping teens, young adults, and adults who may be on the Autism Spectrum. He has a talent for connecting with and helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
If you're ready to start your healing journey in teen therapy, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.