Samantha Malfitano, M.S. and Lynne Henderson Welsh, M.S. have worked with teens for a collective 30 years. Their interactive and engaging approach is such that teens feel involved from the start. Sam and Lynne both practice psychodynamically to look to the root of the problem whether that be emotional, biological or a combination of the two.
The magical age for adolescent girls for mental health issues to emerge is 14 years old. At this age, any and all traumas, repressed feelings, issues from their childhood, and any genetic predispositions to depression or anxiety will begin to surface. As the overall climate at school becomes more about social dynamics, social media, and dating, the teen begins to feel any and all insecurities that were able to be managed when these issues were not front and center. At this age, parents often say to us "I lost my daughter, she used to be so close to me and so sweet and innocent". The parents may see the introduction of drugs, alcohol, self-harm, and obsession with boys, and/or eating disorders. This is also the time when girls tend to devote a lot of time to their image on social media, which is not a true reflection of theirselves, resulting in feeling very far from herself. At the same time all of this is happening, parents recede into the background as friends take precedence. Not a good combination.
The treatment required is for her to begin to understand who she was before these issues surfaced. For her to go back and identify the issues she was dealing with before these things turned into bigger issues. These girls have to learn to feel and not to act and to find coping mechanisms for the big bad world out there where their parents are not with them. We help them learn to remain themselves even when others are doing everything to impress everyone and are growing further from themselves.
First things first, we encourage communication between adolescent girls and their parents. We work to strengthen the girls to return to parent-oriented kids and not peer-oriented. These girls have detached from their parents and are taking their lessons from their peers. In today's world these same peers may not be being parented themselves and not the best advice is being given. The same teen who they shared sadness about breaking up with their boyfriend the day before, may see said "friend" walk away with their boyfriend the next day. The betrayal is very deep. The teen is left with overwhelming feelings that they cannot tolerate. Hence, leaking into anxiety, depression and many other things.
With social media the pressure is on. As parents when we were younger we did not have to watch a party be posted all night that we were not invited to...our children have to do that. And it creates tremendous anxiety and hurt feelings. We want them to come to us, their parents, to talk about how it all feels.
Our therapists will work with your daughter to process these issues. We will help them learn to feel again and not to act. We will help you talk with them the way we are talking with them, without judgment, with open ears, and with a supportive heart. Parents often want to teach their children lessons when they share their inner most pain. What they need is to be listened to, heard, and be able to feel whatever is it they feel. We can't take the pain away but we can allow them to express it which in time will take it away.
Our therapists can help you manage social media and what is too much at the appropriate age, This is a grueling process as we cannot take away that which we have given.
The therapist, the teen, and the family create a team to help the teen heal and feel like their truest selves once again.