Adolescents and children are facing numerous new stresses, and it is having major effects. Over 50% of children 4-17 have a mental health disorder, with 21% having a severe disorder. Roughly 30% of teens have an anxiety disorder and 15% have a mood disorder. In the US, 11% of children 4-17 years old are on ADD medication.
The good news is that with support and good information most teens can thrive personally, academically, and socially. But they and their parents need guidance on navigating the numerous challenges, such as screen time, social media, cyberbullying, academic pressures, access to substances, and the hookup culture. When adolescents learn how to navigate these difficult issues in their teens, they typically thrive as they launch into adulthood.
I begin with a comprehensive assessment that includes not only standard DSM diagnosis, but also consider specific brain-based subtypes of depression, anxiety, ADD; family, school, and peer dynamics; and hormones and other physical factors that may contribute to the presenting concerns. Beginning with a comprehensive understanding of the psychological, relational, and physiological factors ensures that treatment is focused on the right issues.
Initially, my focus is helping the teen address their presenting concerns, often mood or anxiety, as well as ensuring they are functioning well at school and at home. Adolescents typically respond quickly to treatment, getting their presenting issues under control within 4-8 weeks.
Solidifying a Bright Future
Once the initial presenting symptoms have been addressed, I work with teens to ensure future success, which may include issues such as family relations, peers, dating, self-motivation, self-validation, career goals, life goals, and generally making good choices as they enter adulthood.
I begin with a comprehensive assessment that includes an interview with the parent(s) and child(ren) together and typically at least one session with the parent(s) alone. I also conduct an assessment of child and family functioning to address key relational issues and rule out psychological or physiological issues that may be a significant factor in the family dynamics. Beginning with a comprehensive understanding of the psychological, relational, and physiological factors ensures that treatment is focused on the right issues.
Addressing child behavioral issues is typically brief. Based on the assessment, there are often just 1-2 areas that needs adjustment, and usually on the part of the parents. Depending on the family's issues, I use a combination of education in specific parenting strategies as well as ensuring a loving bond between parent and child. I then mentor parents on how to make the strategies work with minimal effort in their family.
The behavioral issues are often resolved in 4-8 weeks, at which point I help parents in preparing for challenges of their child(ren)'s next developmental phase and creating at-home routines and rituals that will enable the family to better navigate the next phase.
The Whole Brain Child provides parents with the latest understanding of childhood development, emphasizing what children need for optimum social, intellectual, and neurological development. The book provides practical parenting advice to help parents learn how to set healthy limits while also developing social skills and facilitating optimal brain growth. It is an outstanding guide for parenting in the 21st century.
Magic 1-2-3 is an essential guide for any parenting struggling with children’s behavior issues ages 3-12. If you happened to not start off particularly good at setting limits, this is your essential guide to getting children to listen without drama. And, it ALWAYS works if you can do it calm, without drama, and consistently. It is a very gentle approach to regaining control. If your child has impulse control issues, including ADHD, this book is a must.
Based on positive psychology research, Raising Happiness teaches parents how to raise their children in a way that promotes a lifetime of happiness. Much of the advice is not intuitive and may not be shared by the Jones’ down the street. But in a nation where anxiety and depression are epidemic in children and adults, it is well worth some time to consider these evidence-informed guidelines for raising children who know how to maintain their own happiness, even when life does not go their way.
For parents of teens and soon-to-be-teens, Brainstorm provides a brain-based understanding of these often challenging and painful years. Dan Siegel provides a new way to think of the teens changing brain and how it relates to risk-assessment, motivation, and identity develop and offers parents useful suggestions for how to deal with this frequently turbulent time.
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child provides parents with an development understanding of emotional intelligence and provides guidance on how to promote it a various stages of a child’s development. As most parents quickly discover, compassion, empathy, kindness, friendship, manners, and civility are not inborn—but taught. And today’s society creates many challenges for parents to do this easily and successfully.
Boys are failing to launch and thrive at alarming rates. In Saving Our Sons, parents learn how to help their boys thrive during a time where they are more and more likely to underperform in school, lack emotional maturity, and struggle with forming healthy relationships.