Adolescent Counseling

Counseling for Adolescents in Medina and Fairlawn Ohio

 

During the adolescent years, crucial mental, social, and emotional developments occur which lay down the groundwork for healthy behavior patterns in life as an adult. We usually associate adolescence with normal teen behavior such as irritability, moodiness, and changes in social behavior. Though these are common markers of going through adolescence, they can also be signs of a more serious mental health disorder.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one in five adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder, and more than one in four show mild symptoms of depression.

As these mental health warnings signs can be difficult to distinguish from normal adolescent behavior, we need to be exceptionally diligent as adults and monitor our teens closely. Because their brains are still developing, and because of the hormonal changes they are experiencing, they are more susceptible to mental health issues, such as depression. Adolescents are also more likely to utilize unhealthy or dangerous coping mechanisms to deal with their feelings, like drug use, self-­mutilation, or engaging in risky sexual behaviors. The short-­term side effects of an untreated mental health disorder in teens can be poor grades or tension within the family or other relationships. Some effects however are much more serious and irreversible. Suicide is the third highest cause of death for teens in our country. For many individuals dealing with a mental health disorder as an adult, symptoms first emerged in the teenage years.

Learn how to recognize warning signs in your teen and help them get their mental health needs met. With the right treatment and support they can develop the positive coping skills and resiliency they need to make it through adolescence and pave the way to healthful adulthood.

Avenues of Counseling and Mediation, LLC has many clinicians trained in adolescent counseling in both the Medina and Fairlawn offices.

 

 

Signs Your Teen May be Depressed:

 

  • Feeling sad all or most of the time and the feeling does not go away
  • Frequent crying
  • Feeling guilty for no apparent reason
  • Loosing self­-confidence; feeling they are ‘no good’; being overly self­-critical
  • Feeling that life has no meaning or purpose
  • Feeling nothing good will happen; feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Having negative attitude most of the time
  • Self-­blame
  • They seemingly have no feelings
  • Failure to enjoy things that used to bring enjoyment
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions
  • Getting irritated frequently and easily
  • Getting angry easily; increase in aggressive behavior
  • Being overly sensitive to criticism (especially in high achievers)
  • Changes in eating habits (loss of appetite or weight loss; overeating/weight gain)
  • Changes in sleeping habits: insomnia, sleeping too much, not feeling rested
  • Feeling tired most of the time/fatigue/lack of energy
  • Physical pain
  • Social withdrawal/becoming withdrawn from family
  • Sudden loss of interest in personal hygiene
  • Self harm including excessive use of drugs and/or alcohol*
  • Thoughts about death, feeling like he/she is dying, wishing to die, increased talk about dying, preoccupation with death
  • Having thoughts about committing suicide or making suicide attempts

 

 

Treatment for substance abuse should be obtained if:

  • Use has resulted in a failure to fulfill responsibilities
  • Use has resulted in being placed in dangerous situations
  • Use has resulted in legal action
  • Use has continued even though problems have resulted from use

 

 

Cutting and Self Mutilation in Teens

 

A large misconception in our society today is that teens who cut or self mutilate are trying to kill themselves. Self mutilation is a deliberate act to harm one’s own body, without the intention to cause death. The act is often followed by a sense of immediate relief, but even when the stressful situation is removed from one’s life, the tendency to self ­mutilate is not alleviated.

Those who attempt suicide actually have the intent to kill themselves with accompanying thoughts of death and dying. Suicidal teens also tend to improve when they are removed from stressful situations, whereas self mutilators do not.

The basic characteristics of self mutilators are also different from those who attempt suicide. Self ­mutilators are typically adolescent females, middle to upper middle class, and of above average intelligence. Those who attempt suicide are from all socioeconomic classes and a wider age range. Females more typically attempt suicide, but males generally have a higher success rate.

 

Common conditions that indicate self ­mutilation in teens are:

  • Cutting, burning, biting, hitting body parts with objects or against a wall
  • Castration, amputation, bone-breaking, hair pulling, or picking at sores
  • Using knives, cigarettes, lighters, safety pins, earrings, fingernails, barrettes, pencils, pens or razor blades to hurt oneself
  •  Attending school with long sleeves and pants on a hot day, or if more attention-seeking, rolling up sleeves to show classmates the self-mutilation
  •  Difficulty expressing emotions
  •  Dislikes self and body

 

Treatment for teens who self-mutilate includes a combination of:

  •  Physician involvement
  •  Psychiatric evaluation
  •  Individual and group psychotherapy

In addition, family therapy is essential to assist parents in dealing with their teen’s behaviors and learning how to communicate better with each other.

 

 

Teenage Romance: Puppy Love or Addicted Love Disaster?

 

Do you remember those adolescent years when you felt so in love for the first time? Many adolescents get caught up in what they believe is romantic or “puppy love”, and before long the relationship could bloom into either a nurturing love (aka healthy relationship) or a more powerful, unhealthy cycle commonly called “addictive love”, (aka abusive relationship).

 

Romantic Love

 

In romantic love, everything about the relationship and the other person seems perfect. Both partners usually try to show their better sides, and unattractive traits are not recognized or are redefined to seem like positive characteristics. Often the early warning signs of controlling behavior, extreme jealousy, and possessiveness are misunderstood as a sign of love and devotion.

In most cases, reality sets in and eventually both partners begin to see each other’s faults. At this point, the relationship can grow into a nurturing or addictive relationship.

 

Nurturing Love

 

Nurturing love is when romantic love matures into a deeper, more intimate relationship. Both people appreciate the other’s positive qualities but also recognize and accept each other’s limitations. Both partners want the other to grow and develop to her or his fullest potential. They encourage each other to have close friendships outside the relationship and get satisfaction from independent activities. If one person ends the relationship, the other will experience sadness and grief but will not be devastated to the point of being self destructive, threatening to the other, or unable to function.

 

Addictive Love

 

When the desire to be together every minute turns into a feeling of extreme need for the partner to be constantly available, romantic love has turned to addictive love. One or both partners says things like “I’ll die if he doesn’t call me,” or “I can’t live without her.” Addictive love is a learned behavior, and males and females often show their addiction differently because of their learned gender roles. Women will appear emotional and needy, while men will not appear this way, but when feeling desperate to keep the woman, he will try to control her. The man often does this by putting her down, calling her selfish, threatening to break up with her, etc.

In a male-female couple, the way a male shows his addiction is through criticism, which may lead the female to believe the problems are her fault. She may believe that he doesn’t need her, thus becoming insecure about herself and the relationship. She narrows the focus of her life to concentrate on pleasing him.

Your teen is just now jumping into the dating pool, help guide them in making good choices and how to spot relationships that may not be healthy for them.

 

 

Adolescent Counseling Clinicians