Adolescent Developmental Challenges

The professionals at 26Health have genuine respect and affection towards adolescents, as well as a therapeutic understanding of the challenges of cognitive development in adolescence. Teens can suffer from a wide range of symptoms–behavioral risks like substance abuse, unsafe sexual practices, underachievement in school and work, and sometimes even criminal behaviors–which can be indicative of underlying issues like trauma, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and more. Poverty among youth exacerbates these risks. Gender questioning/gender dysphoria/gender diversity and sexual diversity can also increase risky behaviors.

With all these potential landmines, healthy cognitive development in adolescence can be challenging. The transformations in body, brain, and behavior that occur during adolescence interact with each other and with the environment to shape pathways to adulthood. To smooth out those pathways, 26Health asks:

Does your teen need therapeutic help?

Is it a developmental issue, or just a mood?

Let’s face it: teens can be moody. All teens, seemingly all of the time. But that’s where you need to monitor your teen’s behaviors. Teens can be remarkably expressive even when they’re not expressing themselves verbally.

Pay attention to sudden changes in behavior and ongoing “moods” that last longer than a few weeks. Look for other signs like:

Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities

Withdrawal from family or friends

Extensive disruptions in sleep patterns, such as sleeping way too much or way too little

Changes in appetite

Roller coaster-like emotions

Isolation, anger, defiance, lashing out

Changes in appearance

Signs of substance abuse

Signs of cutting or other self-harm

Secretive or paranoid behaviors

The persistence of these symptoms is key. If you can’t see them coming out of the “mood” or if you notice repeated patterns of risky behaviors or negative emotions, it may be time to seek support. Engaging with teachers and other adult figures in your teen’s life can also help you distinguish between a mood and a developmental issue.

How 26Health Can Help

26Health offers a range of resources to support emotional and physical development in adolescence for both the adolescent and their family. These include talk therapy, counseling, family counseling, and support groups. There may also be environmental components contributing to the behavior. It may be hard to admit, but those components may include:

  • Dysfunctional parenting due to a lack of role modeling from your own parents
  • Socioeconomic problems that are distracting from good parenting or creating anxiety around the fulfillment of basic needs like food or shelter
  • Parents’ health, work, or other challenges that bleed into the home and make the teen turn to negative behaviors
  • Lack of healthy family activities, like family dinners and engaged and proactive parenting, that check-in with the teen on how life is going

Teens are challenging, so this isn’t a judgment of your parenting, but rather a tool to help you see if therapy can help you and your teen communicate better and positively resolve issues of adolescent development.

Your teen’s problems might also not be in the home. They might be suffering the impact of:

  • School bullies
  • Poor authority figures in teachers, coaches, or other adults 
  • Gender identity issues such as dysphoria
  • Peer pressure–it’s real
  • Exposure to violence
  • Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Early pregnancy and childbirth

These issues can lead to threats to cognitive adolescence development that can cause memory loss, lack of attention and reasonable judgment, delays in complex decision making, language problems, and more.

We can help you identify the sources of these developmental challenges and make a plan to manage your teen’s interactions with them to stop or prevent loss of cognitive function.

Multiple Paths to Success

Teens respond differently to types of treatments. That’s why 26Health offers multiple services to help your teen successfully transition into adulthood:

  • Individual counseling sessions for adolescents
  • Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) who specialize in working with adolescents and have additional training in adolescent cognitive dysfunction and trauma
  • Individual counseling sessions for the parents of struggling youth 
  • Family counseling with a marriage and family therapist
  • Sex education resources for physical development in adolescence
  • Alcohol/drug abuse resources for adolescents

We are also developing a support group for LGBTQ+ youth and a support/education group for the parents/guardians/families of LGBTQ+ youth to better understand their children and how to support them.

Unconditional Positive Regard

Unconditional positive regard is the term we use to ensure that teens are starting with a clean slate with us. No matter what has happened in the past, we are here to help them build a positive future. We create a judgment-free zone that allows the teen to be completely honest so we can help identify solutions using all therapeutic processes: talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, support groups, family counseling, and medication when necessary.

Can we help your teen grow up healthy and well?