Quote of the day: TEENAGERS

August 3, 2017

TEENAGERS

In your work, you mention seven transitions teenage girls need to make as they enter adulthood. What are they?
I’ve boiled it down to parting with childhood, joining a new tribe, harnessing emotions, contending with adult authority, planning for the future, entering the romantic world, and caring for herself.

How did you come up with these?
I supervise the adolescent cases for graduate students in the psychodynamic course at Case Western Reserve University, and often very green graduate students are required to take on vastly more chaotic and underresourced kids than I see in my cozy little private practice. Because the cases were so overwhelming for them, I started to create a checklist of the challenges teenagers are likely to face in their development. The checklist became a way to organize myself to help the graduate students, and for the graduate students to orient themselves to the work.

How did you and your grad students use this tool?
As a student presented a case, we might say, “This kid has parted with childhood: she has friends—a tribe—but she has no affect regulation, so harnessing emotions is one thing we’ll work on. She gets along okay with adults, but has no plans for the future and is making no progress toward achievement in school. We’re hearing nothing about a romantic life, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem area either. And she’s taking decent care of herself.” This evaluation of those major transitions leads the therapist to focus on the areas of affect regulation and planning for the future. Viewing these cases through a clear model helps the therapist not to get overwhelmed while also helping the parents make sense of the chaos that’s often just normal development.

–Lisa Damour, interviewed by Ryan Howes for Psychotherapy Networker

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