"And then she turned 14 and grew horns...."
Childhood often takes an unexpected turn during adolescence. It is not uncommon for a therapist to hear these words, or something like them:
"All she does is sit in her room and text."
"What happened to my sweet little boy?"
"We used to be so close...."
The emotional and behavioral changes that adolescence brings may hit parents by surprise. These can include normal relational or behavior problems, or more serious issues with long-term consequences. Depression and anxiety are often diagnosed during the teen years, along with other mental health problems.
It is important that issues be addressed as soon as they become problematic. A healthy parent-child relationship is crucial during this stage as children must navigate social pressures, face educational stressors, and are often overwhelmed by emotional/hormonal changes. Parental support is crucial but, at the same time, they are often trying to push their parents away in their journey toward independence.
Parents cannot always help their child on their own. Teens often can talk more openly with someone who is not their parent. Having another person on their "team" is very helpful for parents.
Typical adolescent problems may require only a few sessions. Other more serious issues need long-term counseling. Common adolescent issues include:
gender identity confusion
problems related to social media
cultural conflicts with family values