As a boy moves through the critical development transition from adolescent and teenage years to manhood, he faces many challenges, explains Loganholme Psychologist Abra Garfield …
To successfully navigate these diverse challenges, young men must cultivate new social and personal coping skills that once formed, will stay with them for life.
This transition period is marked by several unavoidable life changes that can create stress for both young men and their families and friends:
- Changes of the body – body shape, puberty, hormones;
- Changes of the mind – development of identity, adult thinking, emotional instability;
- Changes of the social environment – high school, sport/creative, friends, work;
- Changes in the family – parental roles, responsibilities, spiritual growth.
These changes and the potential stress and challenges that arise as young men navigate the path to adulthood can be supported by a psychologist through counseling and the development of coping strategies.
Supporting Your Son
There is a lot of misunderstanding and stigma around visiting a psychologist. Psychologists can definitely assist “normal” people, not just those people with mental illness or a psychological disorder.
In fact, coming to see a psychologist when there are early signs of distress is a great way to prevent more “clinical” levels of suffering from occurring, such as Major Depression and General Anxiety Disorder.
For young men, facilitating positive transition through adolescence can create resilience and reduce the chance of developing psychological disorders later in life. There can be many people in a young man’s life providing both positive and negative influence during this period, but a psychologist has a unique set of skills to provide young men with a positive attitude and methods to:
- Handle school/social/family stress;
- Build confidence and motivation;
- Identify strengths and life direction;
- Assist with managing strong emotion;
- Promote self-awareness and personal values;
- Modify unworkable behaviours, and unhealthy life choices;
- Set goals to build and maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle.
Unfortunately, some young men experience stronger anxiety and depression symptoms than the average person. In this case a psychologist can help assess and treat such conditions so they can be successfully managed later in life and do not lead to major disruptions.
My approach to working with young men comes from both my professional training and experience working with youth as a therapist, combined with my training and experiences in sport and performance (athlete, coach, sport psychologist, musician).
A Positive Approach
I take a positivist approach to psychology, which means I am all about building skills, facing challenges with a positive attitude and nurturing strengths and passions. This can be a refreshing change if past experiences with the “medical model” have not clicked with young people because they felt labeled deficient or broken.
I like to approach people as whole people, not just symptoms and labels, and think this holistic view provides long term solutions and skills that are valuable in all areas of life.
Prior to becoming a psychologist, I worked in Childcare and coaching sport teams.
I utilise Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, Mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to treat psychological distress and life challenges. I believe strongly that flexibility to adapt to what life dishes out, and internal motivations and skills to self-regulate and improve self-awareness, are critical to supporting young men in finding success.
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.