"It is easier to build strong children, then to repair broken men"
- Frederick Douglass
Adolescence can be a confusing time in a young person’s life, when there are many significant physical, psychological and social changes. After puberty an individual starts to develop more autonomy from their parents, their bodies change to take on a more adult form and they try out different social groups and identities to see which one fits them best.
Internal stress can build up and the adolescent may withdraw from the world altogether or act out through risky and self destructive behaviour. During this tumultuous time period, adolescents are also vulnerable to external pressures. These pressures are more pronounced in the modern world, and parents should be aware that young adults are at risk from social dangers now more than ever.
External Pressures on Today’s Teenagers
Children feel pressure from a young age to perform academically. Therefore they often experience a lot of stress regarding their schoolwork, tests, assessments and examinations. Teenagers might feel anxious about their schoolwork, have difficulty sleeping or feel insecure or even frightened when they haven’t received good marks.
Adolescents also experience social pressures because of technological developments that have allowed for advances in communication. Social media has affected how people interact with media and share ideas with one another. This new form of communication is instant and ever present. Various social media platforms have become accessible from any device with an internet connection and adolescents are exposed to ideas from all over the world at the touch of a button. Social media has changed the idea of privacy in communication and a single person can communicate with millions of followers from all across the globe in a second.
Although social media can be used for spreading positive ideas, sometimes this form of communication can cause stress and anxiety in young adults. Images and text on social media platforms are necessarily edited using software tools, however many teenagers believe that what they see on social media depicts reality.
When someone looks very beautiful or handsome in a image shared on Facebook or Instagram, some teenagers may experience intense insecurities because they feel that they do not match up to these standards of beauty. They might feel depressed because they do not look like their more popular peers on social media.
Social media also opens up the possibility of being critiqued by many people and when a teenager reads a negative comment on one of their pages or posts they might feel very despondent.
Teenagers experience many more social pressures today, in contemporary society, which were not present even 5 years ago. Academic stress, peer pressure and social media all add to the stresses that adolescents experience.
Parent’s might not know how to deal with these pressures since they did not grow up in the same world. The stressors in the modern world are new and different. Parents need to understand that adolescents today are experiencing heightened stress and anxiety about issues that might not have concerned them at their child’s age.
A therapist who is trained to work with young adults functioning in the modern world can help the adolescent deal with social pressures. The counsellor will be able to understand the stressors and will help the young adult talk through their problems and develop better means of coping with social difficulties.
Bullying and Cyberbullying
Bullying has long been an issue for both children and adolescents alike. Bullying is a hurtful social behaviour where a certain individual or individuals in the child’s peer group try to embarrass and shame the child either through physical abuse, emotional abuse or both. The abuse might damage, or cause the child or adolescent to damage their body, but the abuse also harms the child’s self esteem and social behaviour. This can lead to the child feeling isolated because they are alienated from other individuals in their peer group.
A new form of bullying, Cyberbullying, is a social threat about which every parent should be made aware. Social media and communication over chat programs are part of modern children's everyday lives. Unfortunately, bullying is a habit which has also transferred over from the real world into the digital world. Children are bullied online through their social media accounts, email or even on their personal blog. The effect of bullying, cyber or otherwise, is the same. Children feel like outcasts, they become withdrawn and develop negative ideas about their natural traits and abilities.
The Counselling Practice is a place where the adolescent can discuss these feelings of humiliation and alienation in a safe environment. In therapy, the child will learn assertive techniques that will help him or her feel more empowered. By practicing these techniques, the teenager’s self-image will improve and their self-esteem will increase.
Adolescent Counselling as a Collaborative Working Relationship
When an adolescent is experiencing any of these issues, it might be best to refer the young adult for professional counselling. A trained counsellor will be able to provide a friendly, nurturing environment. The counselling relationship is a collaborative one and the therapist will work with the adolescent to help him or her establish what their most problematic issues are and develop a plan that creates greater psychological health.
The therapist does not function as an authority figure but rather as an informed, mature and supportive friend. A trained, experienced counsellor will never push a client to speak about anything they do not want to discuss. They will progress at a pace with which the adolescent feels comfortable so that they, the teenager, always feels safe and supported. All thoughts and feelings will be kept confidential to ensure that the adolescent feels that they can speak openly and candidly about their emotional or behavioural problems.
Call The Counselling Practice on 07746 411222 if you, or your teenager, are experiencing any social stress or emotional difficulties.