The Silence of Teen Boys: Helping Teenage Boys Open Up About Their Inner Life
Henry David Thoreau once said that men lead lives of quiet desperation. In my work as a teen therapist, I have experienced the truth of this quotation time and time again.
Countless teenage guys are leading lives of quiet desperation. They are overwhelmed, anxious, depressed and grieving without feeling like they can talk to anyone about it.
3 Reasons Teen Boys May Struggle to Talk About Their Inner Experience
In teen counseling, we see more teen girls in counseling than we do see teen boys. There is a fair number of teen boys but historically, there are more teen girls.
It's not because teen girls experience more emotional challenges that teen boys do. It's because teen boys are given messages growing up that make it more of a challenge to ask for help and to seek out therapy.
I see three reasons for this sad state of affairs.
1. Private Silence
In his book Invisible Men: Men's Inner Lives and the Consequences of Silence, Dr. Michael Addis writes about the difficulty men experience with vulnerability and the expression of negative emotions. While Addis' book is written about the experience adult men, I believe it applies equally to teenage boys.
The first reason teens struggle to express their emotions is what Addis calls private silence. Private silence refers to a teen's inability to identify exactly what he is feeling.
Addis points out that many males experience a psychological condition known as alexithymia. Alexithymia is a term that means "without words for mood." On average teen boys have a difficult time putting what they are feeling into words.
This is one of the important benefits of teen therapy. In therapy a teenage boy learns how to identify and label what he is feeling.
Neuroscientist and psychologist, Dr. Feldman Barrett has coined the phrase emotional granularity. Emotional granularity is the ability to label and identify a wide range of nuanced emotions instead of sticking with broad (and unhelpful) categories.
Research indicates that one's ability to differentiate emotions at this level helps increase long-term health and well-being.
2. Personal Silence
The second reason Dr. Addis gives for a male's struggle with vulnerability is personal silence. In personal silence, a teenage boy may understand what he is feeling, but he chooses not to talk to anyone about it.
It is common for parents to lament the fact that teen boys no longer open up and talk about their problems. When teens struggle to open up, the underlying issues build up and spill out in undesirable ways. In light of unprocessed teen depression, a teen may experience:
A drop in grades,
Physical issues, or
An increase in risky behavior in light of unprocessed depression.
Another benefit of teen therapy is the opportunity for a teenager to open up about their real struggles. While many teen guys have a hard time talking to their parents, many will open up to a nonjudgmental therapist.
If the teen feels safe to open up, there's a greater chance they will process their negative emotions and learn positive coping strategies.
3. Public Silence
The third reason Dr. Addis gives for a male's struggle with vulnerability is public silence. Public silence refers to all the gender norms, roles and expectations that most males learn from an early age.
Expectations about not showing weakness, high levels of performance, and attitudes toward relationships are a few of the thing's males pick up from the culture. These gender norms often limit how a teenager can express themselves and leads to feelings of shame, inadequacy and worthlessness.
A benefit of teen therapy is the psychoeducation involved in the counseling sessions. Psychoeducation refers to the process of providing education and information to those seeking therapy.
Every day I have conversations with teen boys about the nature of gender norms and expectations. We talk about the positive and negative aspects of modern masculinity.
Psychoeducation is a crucial part of therapy because it empowers teens to understand their environment and to navigate their struggles with better understanding.
Katy Teen & Family Counseling: 70+ Years of Combined Experience in Teen Therapy in Katy, Tx
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we specialize in teen counseling. Our therapists have 70+ years of combined experience in providing teen counseling and helping teen boys through the emotional challenges that stand in their way of success and happiness.
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:
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Group Therapy for Teens
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Support Group for Parents
Parents of teenagers and young adults face unique challenges. The "Parents Supporting Parent's" group at Katy Teen & Family Counseling provides a place where parents can meet with other parents of teenagers and young adults who may be struggling.
Parents will walk away from this group with a greater feeling of support, actionable skills, and even friendships.
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.