Forces Affecting Our Youth

The teenage years can be an extremely challenging time in a family’s life. Parents and teens can become distanced, and angry outbursts may be common.

This is a stage of life called “individuation” (Schafer, November 16, 2017). This is a time when teenagers begin to separate from their parents and solidify their own identities and ways of being in the world. This can cause conflict, especially as peer groups become more important than parents and family. Add to that the physical changes of adolescence, and it can be a time of confusion and conflict for many families.

Adolescents today live in a highly complex world where information technology and social media are at the forefront. They are challenged to keep up – academically, with extracurricular activities, with friends, with family, and are often facing the pressures of trying to get into good universities and colleges upon high school graduation.

Online bullying and personal harassment have become more commonplace and may have a debilitating effect on teenagers’ psychological health. How they handle these challenges will often depend on how healthy their early attachment to their caregivers was, and how secure and supportive their early environment was. Growing up in a chaotic or unsupportive environment can have long term effects on mental health, the ability to form relationships and to be successful in life.

Mental health conditions like schizophrenia, bi-polar, and personality disorders often begin to appear in adolescence and young adulthood, and early intervention to address these is vital. There is often a large gap between when symptoms appear and help is sought and this is to the detriment of the young person. Parents noticing adolescents experiencing hallucinations, disorganized thinking, delusions or other forms of strange behavior should seek help as soon as possible. Recovery is much more likely if there is a comprehensive assessment, treatment starts early, the young person and family gains knowledge of the condition, and social and therapeutic support are provided. (Ontario Ministry of Health, 2004).

Other conditions that can appear at this time are eating disorders, anxiety and depression, self-harm and risk-taking behavior, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts. It is important to seek professional help early if these conditions are present.

What Can Parents Do?

We offer psychological and counselling services to youth-aged clients and their families. Parents can begin by reaching out and talking to someone and, if you are a teenager, tell your parent/guardian that you wish to seek assistance to deal with your issues. Self-referral is an option for individuals 18 and older.

Our Clinic offers a two -day Emotion-focused Family Therapy workshop that can help parents to increase their knowledge and skills become more confident in their relationship with their children, and help them to coach their children through difficult life transitions.

Low fee services are available if finances are an issue.


Ontario Ministry of Health. (2004). Program policy framework for early intervention in psychosis.

Schafer, R. (November 16, 2017 Online Publish Date). Concepts of self and identity and the experience separation-individuation in adolescence. The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42(1). 42-59.

Forces Affecting Our Youth

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