It's that time of year again. Seniors in High School are finishing off a major academic chapter in their life and graduating. For many teenagers, this brings feelings of excitement, anxiety, anticipation, and relief.
While this is a major milestone in many a teen and family's life, it can also be a stressful time. Teenagers know that they will be venturing out in the brave new world in some fashion or another.
Many teenagers will be attending college or university and living away from home for the first time. How super exciting is that! And how super nerve wracking at the same time for both the teen and their parents!
Some will be attending trade schools. Here they will be learning a craft that will enable them to achieve life goals. Many will do so from the comfort of their own home. Some will choose to move out to experience independence.
And some may choose to take a "gap year". Some will go on to serve missions, travel the world, and simply take a break from the rigors of academics to see what the big, wide world is like.
Transition From "Teenhood" to Young Adulthood
It is not uncommon this time of year, each year, as a teen counselor, to work with graduating senior through the stress and anxiety of moving on to the next, great chapter or their lives. Regardless of what we are working on in teen therapy, we end up also including how to successfully navigate this next part of their lives.
While the emotions are all very normal, they can seem overwhelming at times. And there are some things that can be done that can help:
1. How do You Eat an Elephant?
I think we are familiar with the saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." Anytime we have a huge task in front of us, it can be hard not to look at the enormity of that task and wonder how we're ever going to get it done.
Yet, if you just take one bite at a time, focus on the small, achievable steps in front of you, and don't focus on the enormity of the task, you will find that you will have accomplished that task in no time. And with much less stress.
Thinking about moving out for the first time, attending college or university, attending a trade school, serving a mission, or traveling the world all carry with is the unknown.
Focus on that next right step that's in front of you. Tackle that step understanding that it is one of many necessary steps to get you where you want to be. Keep your focus on the things of today while you work hard to accomplish those steps to the best of your ability. If you can do this, the future will take care of itself.
2. Maintain Perspective
Attending Elementary School, Jr. High/Middle School, and High School have presented many opportunities to challenge ourselves. Some of those opportunities we were "sure" we would fail at:
I've never sang in front of people before; I can't do that.
That final is going to be so hard; I know I'm going to fail!
The SAT seems soooo hard. I can't get the score I want or need!
What if I'm not as good as the other people on the team. They are going to bench me or kick me off the team.
The vast majority of these opportunities that presented themselves that we were "sure" we were going to fail, we did not fail. The few times that we did not do as well as we wanted, we survived and even learned from that which only helped us be more prepared for the next time.
Stress, depression, and anxiety like to lie to us. They will tell us we're not good enough, smart enough, talented enough. Yet, we have so many experiences that show stress, depression, and anxiety that we are, that through our persistence we prevailed, and have succeeded -- time and time again.
It may not have been comfortable all the time, but here you are a graduating senior with college/university coming up, trade school acceptance, and venturing out to the next chapter in your life.
When you have the stress, depression, or anxiety lying to you, bring to mind ALL the many times you thought you were going to fail . . . and instead succeeded. You have perspective that new things are hard, uncomfortable, but you have conquered. And you will conquer this too!
3. Take a Guide "With You"
There are many people who enjoy mountaineering. Some people set goas to climb the tallest peaks in the world. Those people who are successful and survive those, sometimes dangerous journeys, are smart and wise enough to take a guide.
A guide is someone who knows the terrain. Knows the obstacles to avoid while on that journey. Someone who can help out in times of an emergency.
It is so exciting to think about moving out and gaining independence from your parents. Your parents were excited about this too at your age. We want to prove that we can handle and manage on our own, and you will. But don't go it alone.
Like the wise mountaineers, take a guide "with you". While it is exciting to be on your own and there will be a strong drive to prove that you can do it on your own, be wise and draw on those who have been on this particular mountain before.
You will have your parents a phone call away. Some parents have been to college/university, trade school, and have taken their own "gap year" before. And, even if they have not, they have life experience climbing many various mountain tops in their life.
You will also make friends who are on the same journey wherever you go who you can lean on for support. Make friendships with those who have similar goals, morals, and values where you can support each other.
You will have teachers, professors, student aids, who LIVE on the mountain. They just need to be asked.
Mountaineers are not embarrassed to ask questions about particular routes on the path and how to get there. When they get to a particular point that proves challenging, they'll use supports including their guide. They know enough to know they don't know enough -- yet.
Just know that while you have many answers, you won't have them all -- and it's okay to get support!
Teen Therapy & Young Adult Counseling
There are good reasons why colleges and universities have in house young adult counseling services. Some young adults are going to attend college while also carrying with them the weight of depression, social anxiety, panic attacks, generalized anxiety, trauma, PTSD, ADHD/ADD and other challenges. Make use of your guides and supports.
If you are a teen who still have a year or so to go before you transition into young adulthood and struggle with these challenges now, it can be so helpful on your life journey to overcome and learn to manage with them now. Don't wait. The teen years really is the time to address these challenges.
Teen Counseling & Young Adult Therapy: Katy Teen & Family Counseling
If you are ready to start your therapy journey, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Let us help you overcome obstacles to your happiness
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide a variety of therapy approaches that are supported by research and shown to be effective. Some of the teen therapy and young adult counseling we offer are:
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
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.
Couples Therapy & Marriage Counseling
It can be stressful parenting a struggling teen or young adult. More than anything we want to be able to help them. Sometimes couples may disagree about how to do so. This can inadvertently create stress in a relationship.
And there may be times where the actions of you or your spouse or partner has damaged the trust in your relationship. You want to reestablish the trust in a relationship you have worked hard for over the years.
Relationships are complex and take work. It can be helpful to have an objective, third party who is also experienced in marriage counseling and couples therapy. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we also provide couples therapy and marriage counseling.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker - Supervisor (LCSW-S), Board Certified in Neurofeedback, EMDR trained, and a Certified Brain Health Professional through the Amen Clinics. He has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003 and is the Owner & Lead Clinician at Katy Teen & Family Counseling.
He specializes in leading teams of high performing therapists who also specialize in teen therapy, family counseling, and counseling young adults.
Jason is also a leader in the field of teen, young adult, and family counseling providing coaching and technical assistance to teen Residential Treatment Centers across the country.
Jason is also a regular contributor to various magazines and publications lending his expertise to various mental health related topics. You can check these articles out on our "Featured Articles" service page on our website.
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