Teen Social Issues - Hilo, HI - Stephanie Dodge, PhDDo You Feel Isolated, Lonely and Left Out?

  • Does it seem as though everyone else makes friends easily, and you wonder what is wrong with you?
  • Have you had a big argument and falling out with a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend?
  • Have you always been shy or more of a loner, but now you feel even more pressure to be social, especially as you watch others pair off into couples?
  • Do you feel as though you are an outcast at school, while everyone else is in a clique?
  • Are you being bullied and now want to stay home from school and shut down your social media accounts?
  • Do you wish you could feel more confident, accepted and cared for?

As a teen, figuring out social dynamics can be difficult, especially as you move into high school and experience all of the changes that adolescence brings to your mind, body and emotions. You might feel increasingly unsure of yourself in social situations, especially if you sense that your old friendship are drifting apart or if you have begun dating for the first time. Or, perhaps you have always been shy or content to be on the outside of social groups, but now you want the relationships that you see your peers enjoying. Maybe you don’t quite know what a healthy, supportive friendship or relationship looks like. You may have friends or family members telling you that your boyfriend or girlfriend is controlling, but it’s difficult for you to know if they are right.

Maybe you feel very lonely, and you struggle to sleep at night because you are so worried about fitting in, finding friends or avoiding bullies. You may have asked your parents to home school you so that you don’t have to deal with painful bullying anymore, but they refuse, and now you don’t know what to do. Perhaps you see people having fun together at school and on social media and you wonder if something is wrong with you or if everyone would just be better off without you. Or, maybe you have noticed that one of your friends or a cousin is increasingly susceptible to peer pressure and has begun engaging in worrisome behaviors, such as drinking or drug use, but you aren’t sure how you can intervene. You may just feel confused and overwhelmed by the challenges of being yourself, finding friends who care and developing healthy relationships.

Many Teenagers Feel Self-Conscious and Lonely

If you are struggling with teen social issues, you are not alone. Even if it may seem as though others around you feel confident, accepted and secure, it is likely that even the most popular teens face confusion and hurt in their friendships and relationships. As a teenager, you are no longer just interacting with the kids next door – instead, you have so many different personalities to try to understand and connect with. You have probably begun to feel some adult pressures, such as those that come with dating. Teenagers have to somehow balance schoolwork, social life, extracurriculars and sleep, and sometimes, that striking a healthy balance can feel almost impossible. However, despite your increased responsibility, you might also feel like your parents still treat you like a child and prevent you from using certain types of social media or participating in some social events.

In addition to all of the external pressures, as a teen, you are also probably developing an increased awareness of how others perceive you. Like many teens, you may be nervous about what others think of you or say about you. It is common for teens to sometimes feel worthless, weird or broken, especially if they have faced bullying. Some teens develop symptoms of anxiety or depression due to teen social issues. Even though some teens can be cruel, it is important to know that everyone is trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be. With help and support, you can begin to feel secure, supported and equipped to work through the social challenges of adolescence.

Counseling Can Help You Navigate Teen Social Issues

Regardless of the difficulties you are facing now, therapy can help you develop the tools you need to feel more confident and connected to the people around you. If you are very shy, I can help you better understand your anxieties surrounding small interactions or large social events so that you can feel more assertive and reach out to others with greater ease. If you have always struggled socially and have just recently realized that you would like to make friends or find a romantic partner, I can help you begin to communicate with and feel more comfortable around others. And, if you are facing bullying, I can help you cope with the cruelty of others and begin heal from the trauma it can cause.

During the teenage years, it can be very helpful to talk to someone who isn’t your parent and who isn’t also involved in the complicated dynamics of your particular social circle. I will provide non-judgmental, compassionate support so that you can feel free to speak with me honestly, without fear that you will be punished, judged or grounded. If your parents seem to be struggling with your increased independence, I can help them develop the skills they need to parent a young adult.

If you are worried about a friend or cousin because of his or her risky behaviors, I can also guide you through effective communication strategies. I specialize in adolescent substance abuse, and I can direct you to useful resources as needed. If you feel increasingly pressured to do things that you don’t want to, such as sexual activity or drug use, we can discuss the differences between healthy relationships and potentially harmful relationships while also talking through the best ways to be assertive in difficult situations. Many teens face dating violence without realizing it, so, if you feel unsure or unsafe in your own relationship, I can help you better understand the common behaviors of a controlling or abusive girlfriend or boyfriend and offer the support you need to leave a potentially dangerous situation.

I have a great deal of experience working with teen social issues, including working with teen social skills groups. So many teens struggle to adjust to the new social dynamics of junior high and high school. Even if people around you seem perfect on the outside, they are likely hiding their own pains, concerns and problems. You don’t have to struggle with your worries and confusion alone. You can develop the tools you need to form healthy relationships – including the very important one you have with yourself.

You may feel that therapy can help you with teen social issues, but have questions or concerns…

How much do you have to tell my parents?

The law requires that your parent or guardian accompany you to your first session in order to give permission for treatment. In that session, I will make it clear to your parent that I am your therapist, and that I will honor your right to confidentiality. However, if you share that you have or plan to hurt yourself or others, or that someone else is hurting you in a serious way, I am required to report this to your parents or the appropriate authorities. Everything else that you tell me will remain confidential. If you eventually decide that you would like to share with your parents, I can help you with that process.

Will other people know I am going to therapy?

Hilo is a small town, so I understand why you might worry that others will find out. However, I will keep our work together confidential. If you are specifically worried about running into someone in the hallway or waiting room, I can work with you to schedule your sessions accordingly. But, even if you do run into someone from school, know that he or she is also seeking help, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Am I going to be seen as crazy? What if there is more going on than teen social issues?

Mental health issues span a wide range, from having a difficult time in a particular situation to more serious symptoms like hallucinations. Most teens struggling with social issues do not have a serious mental health issue, and the issues that they are dealing with such as adjustment issues, anxiety, depression and trauma are all very treatable. The earlier that you begin to seek help, the better off you can be for the rest of your life. Teen social issues do not have to grow bigger or follow you into adulthood.

–You don’t have to feel alone or isolated. I invite you to call (808) 747 3445 for a free 15-20 minute phone consultation to ask any questions you may have about teen social issues and my practice.

Other Information:

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Peer Pressure

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Stress Management and Teens

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Social Networking and Children

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Driving and Teens

National Institute of Mental Health: Autism Spectrum Disorder

Help your Keiki: Autism

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Aspergers Disorder

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Autism Spectrum Disorders