Whether you’re a teen yourself or the parent of a teen, welcome!
Adolescence is a complex time. A lot is happening — you’re gaining more independence, figuring out who you are in the world and what’s important to you, and exploring new types of relationships.
It’s also often a time that is full of challenges. Renegotiating roles and responsibilities with your parents can be difficult. You may want more independence in some areas of your life but still need to depend on mom and dad in other areas.
Social relationships can be sources of excitement and joy, but also stress, confusion, and disappointment. Insecurities and self-doubt run high, and you may feel pressure from different people in your life to fit into their expectations of you, even if these expectations don’t quite fit with who you really are. And as if that weren’t enough, academic pressures may add to the already long list of things you have to worry about.
While some of these challenges effect teens everywhere, when you’re a teen living abroad, you may have some additional challenges to face. Wondering where you really belong, whether your friendships back home will have changed after time apart, how you will fit into a strange and different social scene or understand a different school system are common sources of anxiety.
Moving abroad can also impact your relationships with parents and siblings, highlighting new tensions or making you feel more dependent on mom and dad — just when you were starting to explore your independence.
While experiencing challenges during your teen years is quite common, it can be helpful to have someone to talk to as you move through these challenges.
Friends and family can be great to talk to, but sometimes our relationships with these people actually get in the way of our being as open as we might want to be. And sometimes their relationships with us make it hard for them to see the situation as clearly or objectively as we’d like.
As a counselor, my job is to help you navigate whatever challenges you’re facing — whether it be anxiety, overwhelming emotions, difficulties in social relationships, insecurity and self-doubt, or difficulties in your relationships with parents and siblings.
Whatever you might be struggling with, my first goal is to understand your experience. I want to hear and understand your perspective on the challenges you’re facing and how you feel about them and to work together collaboratively to come up with solutions that feel right for you.
What Will Counseling Look Like?
Good question, but unfortunately there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. This will really depend on what brings you in to counseling and what you’re looking for.
Early on, I’ll probably ask you a lot of questions to try to better understand what’s going on and how you feel about it. We’ll talk about what’s important to you and what you hope to get out of our time together.
We might talk about things going on in your day-to-day life or things that have happened in the past that continue to impact you. We’ll probably talk about the important relationships in your life (e.g., with friends and family), how you communicate with these people and how well you feel your needs are getting met in these relationships.
I may make some suggestions for things you could try to pay attention to or work on between our sessions to help with the challenges you’re facing. If you’re having trouble managing difficult emotions or knowing how to handle an interpersonal situation, we may work on developing certain skills or problem-solving together.
From time to time, I’ll check in with you about how you’re feeling about our conversations and whether you’re finding them helpful. If there are things that you want to be talking about that I’m not asking about, or if anything we discuss makes you uncomfortable, I hope you’ll let me know. You’re in the driver’s seat. I’m here to offer my expertise and to point us in directions that I think will be helpful, but you’re the expert on your own experience, so it’s important that you let me know if you feel like we’re going down the wrong track.
What If I Don’t Know What to Talk About? Won’t It Be Awkward?!
If you’re not sure what to talk about in our sessions, that’s ok. Part of my job is to help you figure that out by asking questions that point us both in the right direction.
Some teens worry that if they’re not sure what to say when talking to a counselor, it might feel awkward. That’s ok too! Talking to a stranger can feel awkward at first. If it does, we can talk about that — and maybe even laugh about it together!
Remember that if you’re unsure of what to say or where to focus, it’s my responsibility to help you figure that out. So there doesn’t need to be pressure to come in with anything planned (unless, of course, you want to).
Will You Tell My Parents What We Talk About?
The short answer is no, but there are a few exceptions, and we’ll talk about all of these in detail as we get started.
At the beginning of our work, we’ll talk about the types of communications I might have with your parents and how much you feel comfortable with them knowing. In most cases, I will communicate only very general information to them and only with your explicit (and written) permission.
Of course, if you want your parents to be included in our discussions, that’s completely fine — but it’s your choice. It’s usually helpful to include them in some of our initial conversations, although only if you’re comfortable with that. Sometimes it might be useful for me to talk with them about ways I think they could help you, but, again, I would only do so with your permission.
I take your right to privacy very seriously. I appreciate how important it is for you to know that the things we talk about will remain confidential, so we will spend time making sure that all of this is clear at the outset. In the rare case that I need to communicate with your parents without your explicit permission (for example, if I am concerned for your immediate safety), I will always let you know and we will talk about it together in advance, if at all possible.
Ready to Get Started?
I look forward to hearing from you!