You’re worried about your teenager. They’re engaging in behaviors that you know aren’t healthy, but you don’t know what to do. When you’ve tried to talk to them about it, they’ve said: “This is the last time.” “I promise I won’t do it again.” Or they totally deny what you’re talking about and they shut down. Does any of this sound familiar?
When we are struggling, we try to find ways to cope, and sometimes those ways can be harmful and unsafe. Adolescents and young adults might do things like use substances recklessly, they might start fights, they might hurt themselves by cutting or burning themselves, or they might have sex with multiple partners without protection from STDs or pregnancy. You feel frustrated and want your loved one to stop these behaviors, and your loved one may feel powerless to stop. Many people who continue to engage in risky behaviors that they know put them at serious risk already feel ashamed about their inability to stop, and they try to hide the extent of their struggle from their family and friends. Sometimes the extent of their struggle feels hidden even from themselves, such as when the behavior is such a part of their everyday routine that it feels “normal.”
Individuals who compulsively engage in risky behavior tend to also be more likely to have depression and low self-esteem (though that may not necessarily be the cause of their risk-seeking behavior). At Take Root Therapy, we work with many clients to better understand their own patterns so that they can make choices that are better for them, and that feel better. Often, the hardest part of healing can be asking for help, especially with an aspect of life that can often be hidden from even the people closest to us in our regular lives. Fortunately, after asking for help, you and your loved one don’t have to figure everything out alone. With the supportive care of a nonjudgmental and compassionate therapist, your teen can gain a deeper understanding of what leads them to make certain choices, and they also get help visualizing what their life could look like instead with new habits. As they gain more clarity on their past, present, and future, our clients also develop tools and coping strategies, so they can confidently start to act as the most empowered and best version of yourself.