The teenage years are a swirl of emotions. As kids reach puberty, they get an influx of hormones that change everything from their bodies to their brain function. Kids start to grow larger and adjust to what is becoming their adult body.
Meanwhile, they begin to have increased romantic attractions and feel the need to branch out independently and be accepted by their peers. This is a confusing time in life, and most teens experience emotional ups and downs throughout their teen years.
So, it should come as no surprise when your teenage son starts to get a little moody from time to time. Plenty of teens begin to withdraw from their families and spend more time alone in their room or hanging out with their friends. As they develop into adults, teens want more independence, and they want to figure things out on their own a little more. It can be a frustrating time for parents, but this is entirely normal teenage behavior.
If you notice that your teen son is overly moody, though, something else might be going on. The transition into adolescence is tough for some kids, and they can develop mental health problems. Kids who feel like they don’t fit in at school can develop depression or anxiety. When the pain of their changing lives becomes too much to bear, some teens turn to drugs or alcohol to numb their emotions.
At Sundance Canyon Academy, our therapists are trained to use various therapeutic techniques, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), to treat mental health issues in teen boys. We are writing on this topic today to clarify what ACT is and how it can help teens who struggle with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and countless other mental health conditions.
How acceptance and commitment therapy is used
For teens who struggle with mental health issues, ACT can help them come to terms with their emotions and learn to live healthy lives. To avoid unpleasant thoughts and feelings, teens can engage in destructive behavior that ultimately causes more harm than good.
Problems like depression, anxiety, and substance often stem from negative emotions and thoughts that are too prominent in the teen’s life.
Therapists utilizing ACT help their patients learn to accept negative feelings and face them head-on. By facing the problems rather than trying to numb them, teens with mental health problems can overcome their issues and change their behavior.
The 6 Core Processes of Acceptance And Commitment Therapy
ACT utilizes six core processes to help teens overcome negative emotions and improve their mental health.
This process can be used for issues ranging from overcoming test anxiety at school to overcoming addiction. By learning to be at peace with discomfort, teens can accept the difficult parts of life and progress toward healthy goals.
1. Acceptance. Acceptance is the decision to allow negative thoughts or experiences to happen without actively changing them or avoiding them. It’s the willingness to feel an unpleasant emotion and acknowledge it for what it is.
2. Cognitive Defusion. Cognitive defusion is a therapeutic technique that changes the way someone reacts to their feelings. In teens, it helps them focus less on a negative feeling so that it doesn’t play such a prominent role in their life.
3. Being Present. Being present is being aware of what’s happening in the current moment without escaping it mentally. Therapists often teach mindfulness techniques that help teens learn to focus on the present moment and accept it.
4. Self As Context. Self as context focuses on understanding that we are more than just what we think and feel. Life happens around us, we experience what happens, and we are part of that experience.
5. Values. Therapists using ACT help teens clarify their values to actively choose actions that support those values.
6. Commitment Action. Once the teens have established their overall values, their therapist asks them to commit to a plan of action that will bring them closer to their goals and stay in line with their values.
If you are concerned with your teen son’s mental health, consult a trained therapist. Teen behavioral problems are a sign that something deeper is wrong.
Rather than sending them off to a teen military-style boot camp, consider a therapeutic boarding school for troubled boys. By engaging in a personalized treatment plan, teens can learn to acknowledge and address their deeper issues.
Contact us today to find out how we can help your family.