empowering teens

The Simple Way I Empower Teens in Therapy

Last week I was chatting with a teen client at the beginning of session and we slogged through the whole, “how’s the week been, what has your attention today” routine. Schoolwork is a recurring topic and I wanted to guide us to more empowering work that fosters a sense of self-knowledge and self-worth.

It’s not uncommon for me to hear comments like “just because I’m a teen doesn’t mean I don’t have valuable experience to share,” or “adults think that because I’m young, my problems aren’t real.” Dis-empowerment in this way leads to feeling of helplessness, low worth, frustration, confusion, and invalidation. Yikes! No wonder so many of our teens voice experiences of depression and anxiety.

Fortunately, it doesn’t always have to take extreme measures to turn this around and help our teens feel empowered. During therapy sessions, I have two simple words I like to use with teens that helps foster their knowledge, agency, and self-worth.

Those two words?

Teach me.

This teen loves yoga and running, so I asked her to teach me about postures as well as proper running technique. We stood up, pushed the furniture aside, and embarked on a conversation (as well as movement) that led us to the question “what would yoga say about enduring school? Or what would running tell you about it?” We practiced various poses and postures while she explained technique and positioning. I did my best to imitate her movement and grace.

Having this teen share her knowledge with me, and specifically asking her to do so, said to her, I have knowledge and experience that I can share with others, they want to hear it, and it’s important.

When we consulted yoga and running for wisdom on how to endure and approach these issues with schoolwork, we found that she was already familiar with taking on these problems in other areas of her life. In fact, she could be considered an expert on some of them, and if other people were to consult her, she’d have the answers!

It all came down to two simple words that started an active, engaged conversation based in empowerment rather than problems: teach me.

To sign up for a counseling session with Megan, call us at 720-441-3714.

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