Counseling TEENs: Phoenix, Arizona, Teen Counseling and therapy.

David R Abrams MAPC provides counseling expertise, coaching, consulting, and therapy for children, teenagers, Adults, and parents for over 15 years in Phoenix, Arizona, Paradise Valley Arizona, Scottsdale Arizona, Arcadia, Biltmore Arizona.

Many practitioners label clients with a disorder be it ADHD Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Autistic Spectrum Disorder counseling, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder etc.

One of the main reasons for a diagnosis for a disorder is for insurance reimbursement. A practitioner submits a code with the disorder for reimbursement. The medical model for medication providers is similar a disorder with a code is submitted and a medication that is matched with the disorder is now prescribed.

In my professional experience I identify the challenges and behaviors and issues that are going on with and adult or child or teen without giving the individual a “label”or a “disorder”. Labels and disorders can be self fulfilling prophecies in that an individual believes they have a disorder and can NEVER improve. Individuals who are given labels feel: defective, disabled, and damaged and the reality is this is not remotely true. 

I have seen individuals that came into my office with all sorts of society labeled disorders . Many were able to manage their challenges without having another stigma of a label placed on their forehead.

I have seen adults and children learn to manage: depression, anxiety, tantrums, rage, addictive behaviors, relationship challenges, and much more.

I have seen Autistic labeled youth excel socially, and obtain employment as well as improve family relationships and have great success at college.

It is vital to take the time and not only look at the challenges that are out of balance today and also look at how the individual got off track before the current challenges. Simply labeling the tip of the iceberg does not look at the depth of the iceberg that goes deep into the ocean. It is vital to look at the roots of the Tree and not only the roots of the tree but the soil, water, sunshine, vitamins and more. This is vital to create balance in health in humans!

There are many big behaviors that are important to address and look deep into why these behaviors are happening with your child or teen.

Your child may rage and have temper tantrums. This eruption of emotions is seen as the child or teen is now out of control. Some reasons these behaviors may be occurring are un resolved: pain, grief, loss, anxiety, control issues, or sensory issues. The inability to communicate thoughts and feelings to a parent are also a potential reason for anger filled raging behaviors.

Escape is another behavior when a child is not dealing with emotions. It is important to find out why they want to escape.

Children and teens may refuse to do something be it a chore or coming to the dinner table or getting off their video games.

Verbally badgering a parent is a behavior that is learned where the child knows if they keep asking the parent they will eventually break them down and get what they are asking for.. This can lead to frustration,  arguing, and aggression.

Refusal to do chores or do homework is also a common behavior seen in children and teens that create challenges for parents at home.

Verbal aggression and raising ones voice in tone is often used to control a situation and manipulate a parent’s behavior. Verbal aggression is a big red flag because verbal aggression tends to increase in families and it can often lead to physical aggression. Many times verbal aggression is the inability to communicate or could be a sensory issues that is going on with your child or adolescent teenager.

Aggression is a huge issue in schools and at home with siblings as well as with parents. Sometimes aggression is self directed , however, when adults get involved it oozes out onto the parents or adults in charge.

Not following directions is an issue at home and can be an issue at school as well. An example of this would be completing homework, completing a task on a job, completing tasks at home like chores.

Bullying others at school at home is also an issue. Bullying can be verbal, emotional, and physical or just some of the above mentioned. This creates physical or emotional harm to others. This can include: put downs, contradicting adults, getting others to laugh at expense of others, deliberately annoying someone, name calling, blaming others. Two kids of equal power arguing w each other may not be bullying the circumstance would need to be assessed.

Anxiety and panic reactions can also be the cause of negative acting out behaviors. This behavior can be seen as oppositional  and it is important to understand your child’s anxiety to understand their behaviors.

There may be a variety of reasons why a child or teen’s behavior is seen as defiant or angry or aggressive.

Adolescent teens may feel a need to escape. Escape could be do to feeling inadequate, gain control over self and the environment. Teens escaping may be to get attention or get an emotional need met. Escape can be daydreaming or using electronics.

The need for attention by an adult is another reason why behaviors may arise. The need for attention from a peer. The teen is looking for emotional attention. Attention to have a sense of belonging. Attention to cover up feelings of inadequacy.

Basic needs and physical needs and sensory needs are a category of why a behavior may be arising.

Children and adolescents may be in emotional pain . Emotional pain impacts are thoughts, feelings and actions even though the pain source may not be visually apparent.

Children that do not honor their parents are on the rise . Children and teens feel it is ok to call parent’s name, scream at them, be verbally abusive and emotionally abusive. Many children and teens are running the house and parents are allowing themselves to be victimized by their children. It is not healthy for the child and it is not healthy for the parents. Family values and respecting mom and Dad must be paramount! By focusing more on achieving an ‘A’ you are teaching your child that how you treat me and how you talk to me is not important in life. When parents negotiate disrespectful behavior without firm boundaries and without following through with a consequence daily this lack of action means something to the individual child that they are saying basically you can continue walking all over me because I am not going to set a boundary or a consequence with this disrespectful behavior. Consistency daily is vital.

. Children that do not treat others with respect are not treating themselves with respect as well. No child that abuses their parent’s verbally feels good about their emotional well being.

Parents have great intentions. They want their children to excel in academics and sports and extracurricular activities however family must come first. If not you are putting time and energy into a situation that will not support your family or create long term love. Your child may go to a good college however he will not have success in all areas of his life specifically relationships and working with others. 

Children and adolescent teenagers are using their smartphones and video games and electronics and TVs and iPads on average of 60-70 hours  per week.  This is not healthy and there is great amounts of research to support limiting electronics. No child should have his or her smart phone is his or her room as well as: tv, iPad, Video games. Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics state this and most experts worldwide on children and teens support this fact.

Family time and family communication is vital. Spending time discussing your day and communicating feelings and thoughts without electronic devices is crucial. Having dinner without phones and TV is needed. Talking in the car with your children without ear buds in and texting is very important. Discussing family activities, chores, events, expectations, values, and how to communicate and treat others is essential.

STRESS, Depression and anxiety are on the rise not only during the COVID 19 crisis. Mental health Disorders are on the rise over the past ten years and yes there are many factors that are contributing to the rise in teen anxiety and depression.

There has been an increase in depression and anxiety among teens at the rate of almost 19.5 percent. Suicidal thoughts and suicidal thinking increased the most among teenagers in the USA.

Look for changes in your child or teens behavior for signs there may be a mental health issue present with your child or your teenager. An example would be your child or teen always gets grades of B or higher and now grades are C and below this is a red flag. Another example would be your child or teen used to come out of their room and spend time with Mom and or Dad and now is spending time in their room and it is not due to extra homework or studying.

Many parents use logic and are spending a lot of time problem solving for their child. Most children and teens brains are not fully developed until after 23 years old. It is important that parents listen to your child and teenagers emotions and feelings and allow them to express themselves without problem solving. It is essential to show empathy and validate your child and teens feelings daily. If not your child will stuff these emotions and they will ooze out into mental health issues such as: depression, anxiety, substance abuse, paranoia, lack of motivation and more.

Many parents and some very highly educated with graduate degrees believe that mental health issues are a quick fix. Some child and teen mental health disorders can be fixed in a short time, however, some take more than a handful of sessions. Counseling and psychotherapy are complex and there are many variables and experiences from the past that create the present situation.

For example I have had client’s that are straight A students that are in the 95 percentile on their SAT , however, they are struggling with homework and motivation and there are grades are slipping. They are suffering from a great deal of anxiety as well as depression . The anxiety as well as the depressed mood has built up over years. If your child or teen has been thinking distorted or unhealthy thoughts for lets say five years then that would be almost Two Thousand two hundred days of unhealthy cognitions throughout the day and it will take some time to untwist these unhealthy “knots’ and elevate mood as well as to learn to manage their anxiety. Each child and teen is unique so there is not a standard number of sessions. Parents will see positive changes in behavior and mood over time and will know their child is back on track and feeling balanced.

I have worked with youth and families for over 15 years in mental health counseling, coaching, and consulting. It is vital to help your child and teenager find balance in all aspects of their lives. A child or teen that obtains great grades is excellent, however, the child may need more balance as far as social skills, self esteem, friendships, exercise, family relationships, extracurricular activities, as well as being balanced with integrating their thoughts as well as their feelings.

Developing rapport is a huge piece in working with youth and understanding their world. I spend a lot of time learning about my client’s world. Learning about the books they read, the video games they play, the web sites and apps they post on, the social media they are involved with, what movies they enjoy, what tv shows they love, what sports they enjoy, what type of art they find interesting be it Animae or sketching etc, what hobbies they love, and what their favorite foods or restaurants are, and more. It is vital to understand each child’s unique world and each child and teens individualized personality traits.

If you are feeling: stress, depressed, anxious, frustrated, take time to journal your thoughts and feelings as well as talk to a loved one or best friend or see a professional in the field of counseling psychology and or mental health providers.

Stay active physically this means exercise daily. There are free applications on line as well as on your smart phone where you can do many activities included and not limited to: dance, cardio, cycling, weight training, strength, Boxing, MMA,running, yoga, meditation, stretching, bootcamp, walking and much more. Spending time doing intense and vigorous activities will help you with anxiety and depression during a time of isolation and uncertainty during this COVID 19 pandemic.

Teens are facing a great deal of challenges that are real and challenging. Adolescents are exposed to many struggles from the inside to their environment. Teens are experiencing hormonal and physical body changes. Youth are searching for their own identity and want to fit in as well as find friendships. Many teenagers feel overwhelmed and stressed out concerning their grades, their future, college, a career path and more.

Some of the most common problems teens are facing today are: relationship issues with family and friends, stress, bullying, anxiety, depression, addiction to Electronics: social media, instagram, snapchat, video games, you tube, Netflix, the internet, texting, TV, and other electronic media, body image, peer pressure, drinking and smoking, drugs, self esteem, social skills, academic and school stress, family communication and healthy life skills and habits.

All of the above issues are interconnected and must be addressed to create healthy life choices and healthy behaviors at home and at school as well as socially for your child’s success and happiness.

For example if your child has a few friends he might be suffering from anxiety and stress. He or she might also have a low self esteem and negative thinking about his or her ability to be liked and fit in with peers. Many youth are highly critical and judgmental of themselves and their image of their body is negative. Many teens compare themselves to media and celebrities and feel inferior or un attractive.

Bullying is a huge issue in the school system. Children and teens can be cruel in person and via smartphone and internet. Bullying is real and has impacted millions of children and teens. A child that is being bullied is suffering great emotional pain and this must be addressed asap. Many children have committed suicide and have stated in their suicide notes that is was due to being bullied. Bullying impacts your child’s mood, academics, and social lives and this is vital to be addressed for your child’s mental and physical health.

Depression is one of the worst problems teens are struggling with and can lead to more problems in the future. Depression can arise from: low self esteem, negative self talk, poor self image, struggles academically, grief and loss, poor social interactions, family challenges, bullying, being out of balance, poor sleep, and other unhealthy habits.

There are many symptoms of depression in your child. It can be : dropping grades, changes in sleep, sleeping too much, lack of sleep, lack of interest and motivation in activities they once enjoyed, isolating in their room, crying a lot, not communicating feelings, avoiding family interactions, isolating, suicidal talk, feeling hopeless, worthless, criticizing themselves.

Teen problems are interrelated and for example depression will not improve unless negative self talk improves, self esteem changes, social interactions change, eating and sleeping habits change, family dynamics change etc. A holistic approach is best.

Lifeworksaz.com David Abrams MAPC, LPC CAGS has worked with children, teens and families for over fifteen years. His specialty is youth and families working with : depression, anxiety, ADHD, ASD, Bullying, electronic addiction, family issues, academics, motivation, social skills, self esteem, mood regulation, stress management, and more. David has worked with youth and families providing teen counseling in: Phoenix, Cave Creek, Scottsdale, Tempe, Goodyear, Buckeye, and Gilbert.

Articles are not to be taken as a substitute for professional advice or counseling.