Loganholme Psychologist Abra Garfield knows what it’s like to be a teenage boy – after all, he was one! Today he is a Sport and Performance Psychologist, with a special interest in helping boys through the challenges of the teen years …
So now you’re a teenager! The teen years can be a time of tremendous changes and challenges for any boy – at school, at home, with your mates. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do, or who you can turn to.
Bullying, social issues, grades, motivation, time management
Have you been bullied, treated badly, or just feel left out at school?
Are you having problems staying organised and getting your homework done on time?
Both social issues and time management issues can arise in high school when the responsibilities and social pressure changes. Having someone to talk to who can help you problem solve and learn skills to deal with it, can help you get back to feeling on top of things. Time management and social skills for school can enhance your enjoyment and motivation to excel in the school environment.
Pressure from parents, violence, isolation
Are you having problems at home? Communication breakdown and fighting with parents and siblings, feeling controlled and angry at lack of freedom, getting in trouble and rebelling, or not having daily positive attention from parents?
Maybe violence is an issue in your home, do you lose control sometimes and do things you regret?
If any of these things are making you unhappy, a psychologist can help you with ideas for improving your home life. Parents and teens do not always see eye to eye. There’s the generation gap, and believe it or not parents find it hard to adjust as their kid becomes an adult. Having a third party to help resolve any tension in home life can be a great way to break negative patterns and start fresh.
Alcohol & Drugs
Exploring, abusing, addiction
In the high school years we become exposed to lots of different things, we don’t always have the right skill set to make informed decisions, often leading us to learning through making mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes becoming adults.
When it comes to alcohol and drugs, our teen years often are the times we explore these mind altering substances with our friends and sometimes family. We often use these substances in secret and without much guidance.
Alcohol and drugs are both fun and dangerous and being well educated is important if you choose to explore them. Abuse and addiction can destroy lives and families and when we are young, we are more vulnerable to such destructive drug related behaviours as assault and crime. If you or someone you knows is struggling with abuse or addiction or just wants guidance about how to be safe, a psychologist can help.
Changes in the body, changes in the sporting environment, pressure
Have you been losing interest in sport and exercise, too much pressure, no fun, other interests? Exercise and sport can be important sources of social interaction, skill building, exercise and enjoyment.
However, as we get older not only do other things interest us, but sometimes the nature of sports competition changes. Results and hard work override the fun aspects we used to love.
If you are hoping to regain your love for sport or even re-invent yourself in the sports world rather than quitting and becoming a couch potato, a sport psychologist can help. Sometimes a little creative reflection can help you change the way you approach sport, or help us find a new sport that suits our lives better.
Sometimes changes in our body in the teen years make life difficult. We change fast and this can affect our social lives, self-esteem, and sport/academic performance. If you are struggling with a changing body a psychologist can help. We do not judge you and you have complete privacy and confidentiality to discuss even the most embarrassing topics.
Music & Culture
Exploring creative passions as a way to identify
Do you feel you have an inner artist that you would like to find a way to express? Teenage years can bring about big changes in the emotions and mind, and being creative is not just for artists. Expressing yourself through art, culture and music can be a very healthy way to build self-esteem, feel part of something larger, and build important life skills.
Working with a psychologist you can identify and explore your creative passions with, and in doing so help establish a healthy identity and creative persuits. This can enable you to process and express emotion, something many young people struggle to do. Art, music and culture can be great ways to communicate with the world, especially at times when you feel as though you are not heard.
Changing body, changing mind, sexuality, fitting in, standing out
Are you going through a tough time figuring out who you are now that you’re not a kid anymore? The high school years can bring about some pretty dramatic changes in our perception of ourselves and others.
Sometimes the balance of being an individual and fitting into a group can be tough.
For some of us, these are years where we are making our first steps in exploring the world of sexual activity and our sexual identity and this too can be confusing at times. Talking through and receiving guidance when the transition from childhood to adulthood seems too much can be very helpful.
Nervousness, worry, fear, social stress, body, feeling overwhelmed
All of the above life stressors can cause us to become worried, nervous and scared at times. When normal anxiety about life becomes excessive, it is time to seek help in managing stress and worry. Psychologists can help you to overcome excessive nerves and worry in any area of life.
If you are experiencing panic, withdrawing from life activities, isolating yourself from others, find it hard to switch off your thoughts, always think of the worst case scenario, and experience butterflies, headaches, sweats and feel overwhelmed, anxiety might be a problem for you. It can be harmful to your health if not managed, and reduces the enjoyment in life. Usually anxiety is isolated to one or two areas of life but if you find that it is spilling into everything you do and affecting your relationships, it is time to seek help.
Feeling blue, negative thinking, hopelessness, low self-esteem, changes in sleep habits, appetite and energy
The teen years can be very tough on some people and also are the years when depression can raise its ugly head.
If you are feeling low on energy, are not laughing or feeling happy, are not eating and sleeping well, feel hopeless, worthless or isolated you could be experiencing depression.
You are not alone and if you make the choice to seek help, it is available. Negative thinking and withdrawal lead to a vicious cycle of low mood and suffering. With social supports and the help of a psychologist, along with anti-depressant medication (in some cases), you can find dramatic improvement in mood, thinking and behaviour. Depression left untreated can negatively impact your life long term. If you are struggling with low mood and negative thinking and just are not enjoying things you used to and are low on energy, come talk about it and start to improve your life.
Self Harm & Suicide
When things feel like they are just too hard, releasing pain, sending a signal, safety plan
Sometimes anxiety or depression can just seem like too much to cope with and we seek a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Suicide and self harm are the end of the road for some people who just feel they have suffered enough, don’t know how else to ask for help, or want some form of release.
It is sad that we sometimes feel so low and struggle so hard that ending our lives or causing damage to our bodies seems the only choice left, but these behaviours are sadly common in young people. If you have times when you feel you might harm yourself or worse, don’t keep silent. There are people who can help you and it is important that you have a safety plan for those dark times when your mind is leading you to ending your life. There is always another way and always someone to listen to you. Did you know there are several 24 hour suicide prevention hotlines in QLD and that it is OK to just call a cab and head to the hospital if you feel you have lost control and are a danger to yourself and no one else is around to help you?
What am I taking, what to expect, side effects, talking to GPs, is it a cure?
Anti-depressants do not cure depression and the same goes for anti-anxiety medication. These medications reduce some symptoms of these conditions and are made to complement therapy.
They are very important in severe cases, especially if the symptoms are making the therapy process unworkable. In some cases therapy alone can work to reduce and eliminate symptoms and medication is not necessary. A psychologist cannot prescribe medication or advise on its use, only a doctor or psychiatrist can do that. But a psychologist can help to provide a much more empowering set of skills and knowledge to manage anxiety and depression that can not be found in a pill.
Always ask your GP about side-effects and long term use, alternatives and access to therapy when weighing up use of medication. Learn about what you are taking and what you have been diagnosed with so you can make an informed decision. Sometimes deep breathing, healthy eating, social support and exercise can be more effective than drugs.
Stigma around seeking help for mental health issues
Judgment, you’re crazy, mental illness, ‘lie down on this couch’, trust and privacy
There is a lot of stigma and stereotypes about going to visit a psychologist and getting help when you feel sad or scared.
People think you will be judged and labeled crazy, that you will be kept against your will if you say the wrong thing, or that you will be asked to describe your childhood and be hypnotised on a couch. These things are not true. And it is sad that so many people suffer in silence when there is a group of people who are professionals in helping with mental issues, big and small. People come to a psychologist for career advise, sport and exercise issues, relationship problems, and health problems.
Your privacy will be respected and your story kept confidential, allowing you to discuss whatever you wish and receive expert advice on how to help, or who can help.
If you know you’re stuck on something important to you and you want to make a change in your life, psychologists are there to help people create movement on issues, before they become problems.
Author: Abra Garfield, BPsych, MPsych (sport & exercise), MAPS; Medicare ATAPS provider.
Abra Garfield is an endorsed Sport and Performance Psychologist, with a passion for the outdoors and the human journey to find meaning and happiness. He has spent time as a sport coach, mentor, activity facilitator, and academic tutor, including travelling overseas with youth sport teams as a chaperone, coach, and counsellor, and finds it extremely rewarding to provide his clients, regardless of their background, with a safe place to talk.
Abra is the Principal Sport Psychologist and founder of Summit Performance Psychology. Visit the Summit Performance Psychology website to learn more or like us on Facebook to receive Summit Performance Psychology Articles and event updates.
Psychologist Abra Garfield has moved.
Find his details on his website: Summit Sport & Performance Psychology.