Helping Teenagers – Anxiety and Depression

Teenage years can bring change and significant stress. As the body is changing so is school and expectations from peers and teachers. As a parent you hope the time and energy you have invested in them can help them buffer the rollercoaster teenage years.

For some parents it is a completely new experience parenting a teenager compared to a child. Teenage years are a rapid time of change in biological development, social context and role in the family. Teenagers also learn to think more abstractly and critically.

Teenagers shift gears to become more autonomous and form stronger friendships with their peers.

It can be during this time parents question their role and responsibility.

I want to reassure you that it is absolutely necessary as a parent you are available and ready to talk to your teenager. They will turn to their peers but still require your support in growing up, particularly in times of need or distress. To manage this period successfully a few elements are required.

These include:

  • Family flexibility to successfully negotiate new rules and expectations
  • Responsiveness and availability. Research shows if teenagers feel their parents are responsive and available they will more likely co-operate when resolving problems
  • Love and respect from parents is essential for the teenager to co-operate resolution of day to day problems and negotiate autonomy.

In times of significant distress for your teen, not only can you be involved helping your teen with depression or anxiety – you need to be involved. This can be a frightening idea for some parents, you might feel life is already full of stress, to do lists and, not to mention, the guilt we all carry as parents at times feeling we have not done “well enough.”

I want to reassure you it is possible to work on your relationship with your child. In fact, I think it is that important we make it a goal. Often I see parents and children who work through disappointment and failures that are marked by anger and distrust in the relationship.

At See Hear Speak Psychology we offer Attachment Based Family Therapy (ABFT) for parents and teenagers experiencing anxiety and depression.

Parents learn their role is less about solving their children’s problems and increasingly about supporting them as they learn to master the challenges of growing up.

In the ABFT approach, teenagers and parents also have an opportunity to manage conflict differently. It is a process in therapy that helps you and your teenager express emotion and allow you to negotiate matters in “growing up” with guidance and support.

If you would like to know more please enquire with us at admin@seehearspeak.com.au or on 0416 190 434.

Dr Andrew Wilkinson
Clinical Psychologist