Teenagers often have worries and intrusive thoughts that can lead to ongoing anxiety. One of the most common types is Generalized Anxiety. The DSM-V explains Generalized Anxiety Disorder as, “excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities such as work or school performance.” Anxiety can have physical and emotional effects that can feel like an endless burden. As adult mentors, educators, and caregivers, here are tips for how to help a teenager with anxiety.
How to Help a Teenager With Anxiety
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 31, 2022 anger, anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, help for anxiety, mental health, social anxiety, teen anxiety, therapy for anxiety, treatment for anxiety, treatment for anxiety disorder0 comments
Sept 26: Intro to Group: Ice Breaker Activity, Review Rules and expectations
The anxious brain is conflicted as the mind can race, but inversely “blank out.” The frustration of not having a clear mind can lead to poor performance in school. Teens can start to lose concentration after school during homework or at work. Validate some of their worried thoughts by using logical thinking such as separating facts from fiction. Encourage creative outlets after mentally draining tasks. Teens can use journaling and stream of consciousness type writing to free these intrusive thoughts. Make sure there is a safe place for creativity as expression can be personal. Respect the privacy of your teen, but encourage them to share if comfortable.
Anger & Tension
Anger and irritability can unfortunately arrive during anxiety as a result of frustration. As we feel tense with worry, our bodies follow suit. Find what works best for your teen in the realm of movement. Sports are an obvious go-to, but yoga, tai chi and even light stretching can help. Giving your teen a time and space to calm down when angry will benefit you both. Talking about the anger when clear headed will improve your connection.
Sleep & Rest
Since one purpose of anxiety is to keep the brain and body on alert, there is a restless component that comes with anxiety. Frequently one can feel hypervigilant, especially when racing thoughts are added.
As a result, teens with anxiety may feel more tired and lethargic. Sleep becomes more crucial as anxiousness is prone to poor sleep patterns. Teenagers also need more sleep than their adult counterparts. Make early mornings less stressful by sticking to a more relaxing “down time” routine before bed. Find what type of nightly routine and sleep schedule works best. Remember that rest isn’t always sleep; meditation and taking breaks when acceptable can refresh the mind. A “mental health day” off school or work when appropriate can rejuvenate the soul.
One of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a sense of safety. The recent pandemic drastically affected schooling and activities. As a result, teens have had to learn to adapt to change and deal with disappointment. Teens especially crave the consistency of routine. Knowing what to anticipate in advance can help calm the anxious brain. Try to be realistic with expectations and set rules together. If you are uncertain of plans, be honest with your teen and come up with alternatives so that they know what to expect.
Using the 5 senses can be grounding to calm the nerves. For example, making a favorite meal together is comforting and incorporates all senses. Carrying a rollerball scent to smell, a fidget spinner to touch or sour candy to taste can be quick remedies when anxiety starts. Small changes of surroundings can also be refreshing, such as letting your teen rearrange and redecorate their room. There has been a resurgence in sensory items among teenagers. Being playful and letting teens enjoy video games and toys from their younger years also creates a sense of comfort.
There are many disorders that accompany anxious feelings such as Major Depressive Disorder, ADHD, and OCD. Anxiety can also be a result of traumatic events or major life changes.
Social anxiety (social phobia) is common among teens. Based on data from The National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), an estimated 9.1% of adolescents have social anxiety disorder, with an estimated 1.3% causing severe impairment.
Therapy for teens with a licensed professional counselor gives space to divulge these complicated thoughts and emotions. Group Therapy for Teenagers is a unique opportunity to gain skills and new behaviors with the benefit of an expert-led experience while being accelerated through the lens of social learning that can only come from peer support. Group formats have been used to successfully manage a variety of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Remember to practice your own self care when anxious as we are a great influence in their lives. When children see us coping better, they experience positive results firsthand. Normalizing honest conversations about emotions will show teens how to develop into healthy adults.
Group Therapy for Teenagers: Teen Art Group
This in-person Group Therapy for Teenagers runs from September 26-November 14 at 6PM on Mondays. It takes place at our Monroeville location. The group will be led by Licensed Professional Counselor Rachel Taylor, author of this article.
Teen Group Therapy: Teen Art Group will help teens learn Social Skills, Depression Coping Skills, Anxiety Strategies, and How to Handle Anger all within the context of making art.
Sept 26: Intro to Group: Ice Breaker Activity, Review Rules and expectations
Oct 3: Social Skills: Healthy relationships and make bracelets for friends
Oct 10: Depression Coping Skills: Jeopardy game
Oct 17: Anxiety Strategies/Discuss Group Topic choice
Oct 24: *Group topic Choice and craft*
Oct 31: Halloween!-Mask Craft and discuss different “sides” of self
Nov 7: Anger: role plays
Nov 14: Closure *Apples to Apples type game to review Group Skills *discuss future groups
Written by Rachel Taylor, LPC. Rachel is accepting patients at our Monroeville location as well as online. She is leading Group Therapy for Teenagers: Teen Art Group.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.)
Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality ([1st ed.].). New York: Harper.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2021). Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/social-anxiety-disorder
Getting Help Through EMDR
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 12, 2021 social anxiety, treatment for anxiety disorder0 comments
Traditional psychotherapy has been the usual approach to dealing with issues such as anxiety, depression, and addiction. It can involve real and tiring work including reliving uncomfortable memories and feelings out loud for multiple therapy sessions. Historically, this has been the responsible process to identifying and resolving deep issues about thoughts and feelings and functioning in the world. It has been the popular and accepted route to mental wellness. Many people have avoided getting the help they need because they do not want to be subjected to any further stress. They don’t want to do the work.
Happily, there is an alternative.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a new and non-traditional psychotherapy. It uses a patient’s rapid, rhythmic eye movements to lessen the effects of emotionally charged memories of past traumatic events. During a typical session, which can last up to 53 minutes, the therapist moves their fingers back and forth in front of the patient’s face. Sometimes they use an object instead of their fingers, similar to the way hypnotism was portrayed in old movies by swinging a long-chained pocket watch. They have the patient follow these hand motions with their eyes while recalling the distressing event. Eventually the therapist leads the patient to discover more pleasant thoughts, diverting their attention away from the distressing event. The effects of this process are, diminished debilitating memories. This is achieved without talk therapy or medication.
If you are someone who suffers from a specific phobia, such as the fear of flying, EMDR could help you. Replacing negative emotions with positive ones through the EMDR process has provided a sense of security for those afraid to fly. One study which examined a woman who was afraid to fly after the attacks on the United States on September 11, showed positive results quickly. Following only one session she was able to fly on multiple occasions without fear.
If you have had a bad experience at the dentist, studies have shown this non-invasive approach has proven effective in reducing effects of dental phobia. Quoted directly from a study which implemented EMDR: “The most important result of this study was that a high number of patients overcame their avoidance behavior and visited the dentist regularly following treatment.” This study included several 90-minute sessions and proved to be effective in reducing anxiety and changing behavior. Fear of going to the dentist was no longer debilitating.
EMDR is used for a wide range of issues such as panic attacks, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more. If you are someone who suffers from any of these issues or a similar one, this therapy has proven to be successful in eradicating effects of negative experiences. Taking adverse thoughts, memories, emotions, and sensations and rewiring them in the brain has produced a higher level of control and normal functioning.
Although psychotherapy can be stressful, not getting help can also be stressful. If you are ready to seek mental wellness, EMDR is a proven, specific, and results driven approach. EMDR allows negative experiences to become manageable and you to be well.Learn More
Seeking Treatment for an Anxiety Disorder? 3 things to look for in a Therapist to Treat your Anxiety
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 4, 2018 anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, counseling pittsburgh, free therapy pittsburgh, generalized anxiety disorder therapy pittsburgh, licensed therapist monroeville, licensed therapist pittsburgh, searching for a therapist in monroeville, searching for a therapist pittsburgh, social anxiety therapy, therapist in murrysville, therapy for anxiety, therapy pittsburgh, treatment for anxiety disorder0 comments
3 things to look for in a Therapist to Treat your Anxiety.
If you are noticing that there has been a shift in your mood, energy, sleep cycle, appetite, digestion, or overall quality of life, or maybe you have recently been diagnosed with a chronic health condition and have a more recent onset of anxious feelings. You may be wondering if you meet the criteria for the diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, Panic Disorder, or one of the other major diagnosis which make up this category. Sometimes too, an individual may be suffering from one of these disorders but without realizing it because the patterns of thought associate with the disorder have become so entrenched in the sufferers thinking and way of being that the symptoms which perpetuate the disorder are automatic. A professional assessment and then therapy to treat your anxiety is the next step to healing. In searching for a therapist to help you treat your anxiety you will find a variety of options and treatment styles so many that you may ironically become anxious in the process of choosing. A few things to help you choose the therapist or counselor.
- Check their credentials, choose a licensed therapist who has experience in treating your specific potential anxiety disorder. There are lots of people on line who advertise as life coaches coaches, counseling ministers, or counselors without a license. You owe it to your health and wellbeing to treat your anxiety with a well-trained and licensed therapist.
- Expect to pay for services or use your insurance, if a therapist is offering free counseling or free therapy assessments, this is probably not a good sign. Most qualified and licensed therapists who treat anxiety disorders will expect to be paid for their expertise in helping you to recover from your anxiety disorder. Offering free services is a way new therapists might try to get business if they are very slow or new to the business of therapy.
- In your first appointment and all other appointments, pay attention to how the process feels and what you think about their interventions. Do you feel understood? Does the therapist offer skills and interventions that are relevant to your needs in treating your anxiety? If you can answer yes to these questions, then you are likely well on your way to a solid therapy path and recovering from your anxiety disorder.
Be Well Pittsburgh and Monroeville,
412-322-2129 Call to reach a therapist to help you to treat your anxiety disorder.
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh and MonroevilleLearn More