The rates of pre-teens and teens developing addictions to alcohol and other drugs is steadily increasing. When a teenage uses drugs it alters their brain development and impacts their overall well-being. Substance use often times begins with experimentation and the desire to "just want to have fun with my friends."

teen substance

Part of what our licensed mental health therapist do with our work with teens is educate them on the impact of a negative peer group, dangers of trying out substances, alcohol poisoning, and how addiction is a disease that requires a life long recovery process. We also enjoy working with parents to learn how to detect and prevent substance use and abuse. It should be noted that the use of alcohol and drugs is often combined with other risky behaviors such as truancy, unprotected sex, prostitution, increases the risk for unwanted pregnancies, unsafe driving practices, sexual misconduct, stealing, as well as health issues as they mature.

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Identity Development

Being a boy or a girl, for most children, is something that feels very natural. At birth, babies are assigned male or female based on physical characteristics. When children are able to express themselves, they will declare themselves to be a boy or a girl (or sometimes something in between); this is their "gender identity". Most children's gender identity aligns with their biological sex. However, for some children, the match between biological sex and gender identity is not so clear.

teen identity

Symptoms of Identity Development

When your child discloses his or her identity to you, respond in an affirming, supportive way. Understand that although gender identity and sexuality are not able to be changed, the way people identify their sexual orientation or gender identity may change over time as they discover more about themselves.

Accept and love your child as they are. They will need your support and validation to develop into healthy teens and adults.

Stand up for your child when he or she is mistreated. Do not minimize the social pressure or bullying your child may be facing. See How You Can Help Your Child Avoid & Address Bullying.

Make it clear that slurs or jokes based on gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation are not tolerated. Express your disapproval of these types of jokes or slurs when you encounter them in the community or media.

Connect your child with LGBTQ organizations, resources, and events. It is important for them to know they are not alone.

Support your child's self-expression through choices of clothing, jewelry, hairstyle, friends, and room decoration.

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Academic Challenges

Academic Challenges often significantly impacts the student's feelings about him/herself and hopes for the future. Professional counseling helps your underachieving child cope with and overcome lowered self-esteem, anxiety, and depression due to academic challenges. Professional counseling can help you get past blaming and feelings of helplessness in assisting your child to achieve better academic results.

teen academics

Symptoms of Academic Challenges

Failure to complete or turn in homework in a class that does not involve the student's disability.

Lack of motivation or disinterest in school, along with a tendency to make excuses for school failure, are additional signs.

Refusal to accept blame or responsibility for his own achievement.

Daydreaming or socializing too much and making school work the lowest priority indicate underachievement as well.

Students with falling grades and who take no satisfaction or pride in schoolwork likely suffer from underachievement too.

The same goes for students who see themselves as having no chance to succeed so behave as if they're already defeated rather than try to perform well.

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common behavioral disorder that affects about 10% of school-age children. Boys are about three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with it, though it's not yet understood why. Kids with ADHD act without thinking, are hyperactive, and have trouble focusing. They may understand what's expected of them but have trouble following through because they can't sit still, pay attention, or focus on details.


Although one of our experienced and qualified therapists must diagnose ADHD, here are some Symptoms:

Has trouble staying focused; is easily distracted or gets bored with a task before it's completed

Appears not to listen when spoken to

Has difficulty remembering things and following instructions; doesn't pay attention to details or makes careless mistakes

Has trouble staying organized, planning ahead, and finishing projects

Frequently loses or misplaces homework, books, toys, or other items

Constantly fidgets and squirms

Has difficulty sitting still, playing quietly, or relaxing

Moves around constantly, often runs or climbs inappropriately

Talks excessively

May have a quick temper or "short fuse"

Acts without thinking

Guesses, rather than taking time to solve a problem or blurts out answers in class without waiting to be called on or hear the whole question

Intrudes on other people's conversations or games

Often interrupts others; says the wrong thing at the wrong time

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Emotional Disturbance

A student with an emotional disturbance has the inability to learn in school which cannot be explained by other factors, as well as the inability to build or maintain good relationships at school. These students display difficulties with behavior or feelings, and may be generally unhappy or sad. They may develop physical symptoms or fears that affect home and school.

teen emotional disturbance

Although one of our experienced and qualified therapists must diagnose Emotional Disturbance, here are some Signs & Symptoms:

Hyperactivity (short attention span, impulsiveness).

Aggression/self-injurious behavior (acting out, fighting).

Withdrawal (failure to initiate interaction with others; retreat from exchanges of social interaction, excessive fear or anxiety).

Immaturity (inappropriate crying, temper tantrums, poor coping skills).

Learning difficulties (academically performing below grade level).

Distorted thinking.

An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.

An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.

Inappropriate types of behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances.

A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

Low self-esteem and poor social skills.

Individual strengths and areas of challenge with academic tasks.

Difficulty adapting to home, school, and community environments.

Often use inappropriate ways to get attention, such as talking back to adults, refusing to do work,or making jokes.

Abnormal mood swings.

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Depression is a type of mood disorder. A main indicator is when kids are sad, discouraged, or upset for weeks, months, or even longer. Another sign a child might have depression is negative thinking. This includes focusing on problems that are mostly critical and self critical and can interrupt energy, concentration, sleep and eating habits. Children with depression may loose interest in school, seem tired, give up easily, or withdraw from friends or family.

teen depression

Although one of our experienced and qualified therapists must diagnose Depression, here are some Signs & Symptoms:

Withdrawal from friends and family

Unexplained aches and pains

Increased sensitivity to rejection

Thoughts of death or suicide

Changes in appetite -- either increased or decreased

Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness

Vocal outbursts or crying

An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.

Difficulty concentrating

Fatigue and low energy

Changes in eating and sleeping habits

Irritability or anger

Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests

Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

Sadness or hopelessness

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