During the developmental years of adolescence,
it’s safe to say that life is ruled by stress. Whether it’s the stress of academics, the stress of group drama or the stress of relationships, stress seems to be the recurring
theme in everyone’s life. For teens, it seems that dealing with the stress recklessly is almost socially acceptable—people get involved in drugs or drinking because of stress factors and it’s almost okay because it’s an outlet. But did anyone ever consider simply talking to someone?
According to Liz Pollock, a family and adolescent therapist at Potomac Psychiatry, while teen therapy has been associated with people who are mentally unstable, it can also be for high school students who just feel overwhelmed from time to time and need someone to vent to.
“It helps organize your life,” said senior Maria, who asked to remain anonymous. “At this age we have a lot of stress. It helps to talk to someone with experience who brings that stress down and makes suggestions.”
According to Maria, she originally did therapy as a fourth grader to help with anxiety issues but restarted at the beginning of high school.
“I started in high school again to keep things together,” Maria said. “It helps get weight off your shoulders; it helps you figure things out.”
There are a variety of issues teens can go to therapy for, and since teens are more likely to develop certain disorders such as mood disorders and eating disorder, therapy can be effective.
According to clinical social worker and therapist Jonah Green, many teens come to his practice for depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol issues, divorce, family issues, conflicts and other problems
including learning how to develop better social skills.
“Teenagers are a fairly large part of my practice,” Green said. “I see teens and families, young children and adolescents.
I try to help people generate healthy relationships.”
Therapy has been proven by various doctors to help improve the quality of life for many teenagers.
“It’s an immense help,” Pollock said. “Adolescent therapy is immensely successful.
It’s a unique experience. You can talk to friends and other adolescents, but to talk to a therapist is different.”
According to Pollock, teens commonly show progress after undergoing therapy.
But many teens don’t consider therapy as a method to deal with pressure because of the negative connotation it carries.
“It represents a more vulnerable part of the teenage world,” Green said. “Teens want to have an image—strong, tough, good looking. The first association
with therapy isn’t like that. It’s more like ‘What’s wrong?’ and ‘Why are you going there?’”
Because of this misconception, teens often overlook therapy. However, by not considering it they can be impairing their ability to develop and mature.
“With the right therapist it can be very effective,” Green said. “People who go to therapy have a leg up on those who don’t because they’re willing to face the issues and talk.”
Therapy can be particularly beneficial for teenagers because of the stress one typically endures as a result of the high standards of academic and extracurricular success students
are held to in Montgomery County.
“I think CHS is a place where kids would tend to be stressed,” Green said. “Anxiety is a big concern and a lot of emphasis is placed on academic and external success. That’s not a nurturing environment for a kid to grow up in.”
One of the benefits of talking to a therapist is also developing a healthy client-therapist relationship. According to Pollock, a healthy relationship
and effort from the patient is necessary for success.
“I got lucky with a good therapist,” Maria said. “I talk to my therapist about things I couldn’t tell my parents.”
While many teens may not necessarily
need therapy to cope with their issues, it can be a healthy outlet for teens unable to deal with the problems in their lives.
“I feel a lot better,” Maria said. “It’s effective. You might not always agree with your therapist, but you feel relieved afterwards. Therapy’s really helped.”