Life is full of turning points. Some of them are predictable and others result in blindsided confusion. Our increasingly global culture careens with technology pushing harder and at a rate faster than we can possibly absorb. Two hundred years ago, not many people went to college, and in fact they learned their crafts with adults, accepted their roles, and made interesting lives that were well connected in the heart of communities. Today’s young people are being asked to sort out their world by wading through masses of information and constantly changing formats, while tied to phones they keep on their pillows in order to remain connected with friends. It is no wonder that half of teenagers report anxiety and/or depression at times.
In my working life, I have seen the legal age drop from 21 to 18, taking colleges out of the obligation to be in loco parentis, and leaving students in late adolescence sometimes wanting for direction and mentoring. Past generations knew that a college degree guaranteed a job, simple as that. Today we talk of three or four careers in lifetimes that may average a hundred years. What remains the same? Youth is an exciting time, full of choices, flexible, joyous, and troubling all at once.
Our approach to any student, no matter what the service that is sought, is a developmental one. This means that we try to assess how well the students are coping with the natural pressures of life, educationally and personally. We try to keep as many doors open as possible for decision-making. For college, we look at the process as if one is applying for a job as a student, and use a careers model to learn the skills that will be important for the later job search. If a student requires a treatment program, the task is the same: what model of direct help will validate this student’s strengths and help to heal the issues of self-worth that have undermined progress?
What do we not do? We try not to rush. Measure twice and cut once is a rule for carpenters, and our goal is to have everyone involved feel confident that we have reached an optimal decision by gathering enough information as a team with students and parents. I am fortunate to have Joel and Beth as talented therapists with unique skills. Our doors are open.