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  • Writer's pictureSara Wilson

Navigating the Rollercoaster; Themes that Teen Girls Explore in Therapy

Updated: 3 days ago

Text on Graphic with headshot of author, Kate Easton. Headline: "Shining Light on Shadows: When Your Child Struggles with Bipolar, Everyone Struggles" Pull Quote: "“Amidst the chaos and the pain, there was a glimmer of clarity – my son was not himself, he was a prisoner of his own mind, controlled by forces beyond his control.”

As a therapist, I LOVE working with teenage girls and young adult women. People often raise an eyebrow when I say this because they remember their own tumultuous teen years, but it’s true. Yes, the years between 13-23 are a whirlwind of emotions, social pressures, and self-discovery, so it's no surprise that many young women seek therapy to navigate this complex stage of life.

I often hear a wide range of concerns, but some themes consistently bubble up in my sessions with this age group. Here's a deeper dive into some of the common topics I hear in my office.


I will be discussing these themes and more on a new show launched by Neil Parekh and Dawn Helmrich, “Shining Light on Shadows: A Candid Conversation About Mental Health.” You can watch the show Thursday, July 11 4pm PT / 6pm CT / 7pm ET or the recording on Facebook, Twitter*, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram* and Neil’s website.

*The links to Twitter and Instagram go to Neil's accounts. We won't know the exact urls until we go live.


The Social Jungle: Teen Friendships and Social Media Blues

As a Millennial, I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t have social media as a young woman. It’s hard enough navigating social media and friendships as an adult, can you imagine the challenge this presents as a young person? Online or offline, dealing with cliques, navigating friendships, and managing the ever-present pressure of social media can be overwhelming. We talk about this A LOT in therapy.

Body Image Battles: Building Self-Esteem

Body image struggles are a major hurdle for many young women. Societal beauty standards and the constant barrage of unrealistic portrayals on social media can wreak havoc on self-esteem. I work often to help young women develop body acceptance or body neutrality by challenging these unrealistic standards.

Academic Stress: The Pressure to Succeed

The pressure to perform well in school can be incredibly overwhelming for young women. (I certainly remember that!) Juggling academics, extracurricular activities, and a social life can lead to significant stress and anxiety. So much of my work as a therapist is equipping young women with coping mechanisms for stress and academic anxiety. I do this through teaching time management skills, study habits that promote well-being, and strategies for prioritizing tasks effectively.

Mental Health Concerns: Depression, Anxiety, and Eating Disorders

Unfortunately, mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders are all too common among young women. I support my clients in this area by giving them tools to manage these challenges by teaching coping mechanisms for emotional distress, healthy habits to promote well-being, and helping them understand and manage their mental health.

Finding Your Identity: Gender Exploration and Self-Discovery

Teenage years are a prime time for exploring gender identity and sexuality. This can manifest in a variety of ways, and therapy can be a supportive space for young people to navigate these feelings. When it comes to questioning gender identity, some young people may feel a disconnect between their assigned gender at birth and their internal sense of self. Therapy can provide a safe space and confidential space to explore these feelings without judgment and learn about different gender identities.

For LGBTQ+ youth, “coming out” to family, friends, or the wider community can be a nerve-wracking experience. Therapy can help young people prepare for coming out conversations, develop coping mechanisms for potential negative reactions, safety planning, and connect with resources for LGBTQ+ youth.

Healing from the Unthinkable: Sexual Assault and the Path to Recovery

Sexual assault is a horrifying reality for many young women. Teenage girls and young women ages 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault (RAINN) It's a traumatic experience that can have a lasting emotional and psychological impact. As a therapist specifically trained in trauma interventions, I help young women heal from trauma using modalities such as EMDR and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Both are very effective, evidence-based treatments for survivors of trauma.

See what I mean? The years between 13-23 are FULL of exploration, healing and questioning. It is my absolute honor to serve this population in my therapy practice.

For more information about some of these themes, please visit:

National Eating Disorders Association:

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

The Trevor Project: (Focuses on LGBTQ+ youth)

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673)

Title Card for Show. Text and headshots of the co-hosts and guest. Headline: "Shining Light on Shadows: A Candid Conversation About Mental Health" Copy: "Ep. 7 Kate Easton Parenting a Child with Mental Health Challenges Thurs., May 9 7pm ET / 6pm CT / 4pm PT"


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