Adolescents are inspirational. They are just beginning to ask some of life’s biggest questions and many have already lived several lifetimes by the time they are only 13. I’m constantly in awe every time I sit across from someone like this. They teach me more about life sometimes than I could ever learn on my own. I find myself forced to come to therapy with teens with an open mind and an even more open heart because that is what they need. They’re beginning to brainstorm what the purpose and meaning to all of this life stuff is and I get to have a first row seat to their philosophical ponderings.
So much of the time, adolescents don’t even realize the amazing philosophers and thought leaders that they already truly are. They speak with wisdom that so frequently surpasses their years and I feel my own knowledge to be expanded.
Not to mention that they still have a love of playfulness and silliness that I sometimes forget to have. Having been a bit uptight and serious my whole life, I love when adolescents remind me to laugh because sometimes that’s what keeps us alive. It adds a zest to the soul that we otherwise might never know and adolescents constantly remind me that we, as humans, have a need for fun. It’s okay to let go and not be so serious all the time. Even in the context of therapy, it’s okay to laugh and be silly simply for the sake of it instead of some therapeutic agenda (although of course, I would argue that laughter is incredibly therapeutic).
Moreover, I am constantly challenged by adolescents. Simply because I am the therapist, I better have sound logic for the things I present. Does it all add up? Does it all make sense? Why do I advocate for these things? When did I learn them? How did I learn them? Do they work for me? Why? All these things and more are addressed in my time with teens and I love being kept accountable to my education. Moreover, adolescents catch me in what I don’t know and force me to be honest. It’s okay because we can look it up and learn it together. That is much more powerful than just having all the answers all the time.
Most importantly, adolescents remind me to be always authentic and genuine. There is no amount of therapy BS that will win the heart of a young mind. I must come to sessions as myself. My geeky, awkward, so often still feeling like a teen at heart in my own way self. Together we become the great brainstormers. Me the expert of therapy and my adolescent the expert of their life and expanding knowledge. And therapy suddenly stops becoming a space to fix things or correct behavior. It becomes a rich space of artistry where we learn more together and challenge ourselves in what we thought we knew life to be.
To any adolescent or teen reading this article, especially if I have worked with you, thank you for your constant inspiration and joy that you bring to my work without even an effort. Your resilience, energy, and curiosity are contagious in ways you can’t even imagine. You are wonderful and strong and have fantastic power that holds the ability to shape the very world in which we live.
Thank you for sharing the space with me where you allow me to get a glimpse into your hopes, dreams, and ambitions for your life. I know that things might be unbearable right now and that you feel like you’re going to break, that nobody understands, and you are all alone. You are not alone. You can find help and I urge you to reach for help as soon as you can.
It is my goal that, while psychiatric hospitals can be wonderful places of healing, you need never go to an ER for mental health. Summon your courage and be brave. Asking for help sucks and I’m not sure it ever gets easier especially when we’re worried about what our parents and friends might think. But please reach for help sooner rather than later if you should need it. You have a beautiful mind, soul, and spirit and this world is better having you as a part of it. Your life has only begun and you need to continue to see your story through to the end because you have the ability to shake the foundations of all we know and we need you.
Suicide or self-harm are only temporary fixes and you are worth time and dedication to having someone walk through your story with you as long as you need.
I am incredibly grateful for every adolescent client that allows me the honor to hear their story and I leave feeling inspired by their resilience. Hold on so we can read your story through to the end.
If you are a parent and reading my blog, please remember. Your love for your child is not negated simply because your child is suffering from mental health issues. Let’s get them the best help that we can as early as possible to get them the support that they need. You are not a mental health professional and it’s okay, as a parent, to ask for help in these matters. It does not make you a bad parent!! It shows you care!! Adolescence, no matter what time we grew up in, is weird and difficult for everyone. Thank goodness we now live in a time that doesn’t force us to sweep our issues under the rug!
Let’s work to help and restore hope again together.