Many teens are feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the shutdown BUT many are not. Some teens with intense social anxiety or who are bullied are feeling relief. Relief from being consumed with a fear of being judged…from being picked on…or from having to face their social fears.
One parent described her teen as being “happy as a clam.” Another told us that her teen “hasn’t been this calm in years.”
WHY ARE THERE THESE PARENTS WORRIED?
You are probably wondering what the problem is? Happy as a clam seems great. What’s the problem?? Well, though not planned avoidance, the very act of avoiding discomfort is what actually creates more discomfort!! The more we avoid our distress, the more we experience intense problematic behaviors as the cycle of avoidance continues.
Anxiety naturally limits interactions and healthy risk taking that develops our confidence. Parents are worried about the long-term effects of social distancing because this forced avoidance actually increases anxiety.
What will happen when school shutdown ends?
* “How will I get her back to school whenever this is over?”
* “How do I get him to socialize and make friends after this if he already struggles?”
* “Will he lose all the progress he was making in therapy because of social distancing?”
These concerns are valid and real. Exposure therapy helps treat anxiety because it is the opposite of avoidance.
As teen specialists, we are seeing two types of teens right now.
- For some teens it is torture not being able to socialize and see their friends. They never thought they would miss school and structure, but they do.
- For others, it is heaven. No more constant worrying, exhaustion, stomach aches, and more. They are relaxed. BUT this will end.
If your teen is socially anxious and suddenly thrilled to be home, it is time to REFRAME social distancing. Rather than looking at this time as avoidance, help your teen to view this as a time to reset.
If your teen needs additional support to reframe or reset their thinking, online therapy can help your teen develop skills to expose themselves to their anxieties and experience managing them successfully!
Let’s face it! With the onset of the Coronavirus outbreak, the temptation to cancel your teen’s therapy is easy to give in to, even when online therapy is offered as an alternative. We are entering a new world and this virus, however inadvertently, will be changing how our health care is delivered. Analysts are talking more and more about the advent of telehealth. Believe it or not, the therapeutic field has been utilizing this option years before this pandemic. For example, many residential facilities for adolescents have out-of-state patients whose parents’ participate in family therapy with their child long distance with video conferencing.
BUT WHAT ABOUT CONNECTION??
Parents who are not familiar with online therapy have a hard time imagining the dramatic break-throughs that can happen with video or telephone conferencing. The old argument used to be that if you aren’t in person, you cannot connect with them, but that is a fallacy. In fact, sometimes the opposite occurs because by not being in person, the therapist is listening in a more focused manner: a sudden intake of breath, a whisper of a choked back sob, all speak volumes to the therapist. Not only that, but many teens are actually more relaxed and open when they are sharing from the comfort of their bedroom rather sitting in an office, feeling like a bug under a microscope.
IS IT EFFECTIVE???
Research shows one form of delivery, face-to-face, phone or online is not better than the other. In fact, online therapy is shown to be just as effective for treating anxiety, depression, and trauma in teens as in person sessions. Why? Because the delivery is a tool, and a tool is only as good as the therapist utilizing it. Just as CBT, DBT, EMDR are not cure-alls but are tools that only an experienced and competent therapist can utilize effectively. In the hands of a bad therapist, all the tools in the world, all the office space, nice furniture, fancy beverages, other luxuries, or anything else will not make a difference to the well-being of your child. AND afterall, the well-being is the goal, creating a life worth living!
Contact us today to learn more about online sessions with one of our teen Specialists at Mindful Healing