Reasons Why Teens Today Are Under So Much Stress

Many parents don’t fully understand why the lives of their teens are so very stressful. However, the topic of stress is so important that the entire month of April is designated as National Stress Awareness Month. So let’s spend April reflecting on what causes stress in our teens and young adults.

Teenage Sleep Deprivation

Modern-day school life denies teenagers the 8-10 hours of sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. Brown University School of Medicine surveyed 3,000 high school students and found that they only averaged about 7.5 hours of sleep on a school night. Sleep deprivation was found to be more pronounced in boys than in girls. The sleep problem is compounded by teenage circadian rhythms that are approximately two hours behind those of adults. This turns your teenager into the night owl that you recognize and results in the hard morning task of getting your teen out of bed to get to school on time. Sleep deprivation in teens can lead to performance decline, memory lapses, mood swings, and other behavioral problems.

“Sending kids to school at 7 a.m. is the equivalent
of sending an adult to work at 4 in the morning.”

-William Dement,
Stanford University Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Teenage Hormones

Teenage hormones and the strong emotions they release in your teen may be causing you parental stress. However, try to recall what it was like when you were a teen carrying around that burden of emotions 24/7. And it’s not only hormones – your teen may also have to deal with rapid growth spurts, acne, periods, and unreliable vocal cords. Trying to cope with these changes can trigger anxiety and depression. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study found that major depressive episodes in adolescents went from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 11.3 percent in 2014, with adolescent girls suffering more than boys.

Teens Don’t Own Their Lives

Many aspects of students’ lives are decided for them – what subjects they study, what they wear to school, what schedules they must follow. Adults have much more autonomy to do as they please, but if teenagers try it, they are regarded as being rebellious. In addition, many parents add to a teen’s stress by expecting perfection in everything. The Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment found that students find school to be more enjoyable and are more motivated to try harder when they are allowed to set their own expectations.

Struggle for Identity

The struggle to find out who they are is hard on teenagers. Peers, parents, teachers, and society are all giving them messages on how they should behave in order to feel accepted and valued. The University of Illinois Department of Psychology conducted a study of 500 adolescents and found that peer-related stress undermines their social security and identity and contributes to depression. Stressful events may include everything from a friend’s death to physical fights to not being invited to a party. Girls are more sensitive to the opinions of peers because they put more emphasis on interpersonal connectedness than do boys.

Uncertain Futures

As a teenager you probably didn’t worry about joblessness and lack of financial security; you naturally expected that a well-paid job would be available to you. Unfortunately, the future job market is much more uncertain. With increasing globalization and the growing use of artificial intelligence, students in high school and college are caught up in a world where economies and labor markets are being uprooted. Cathy Davidson, wrote a book entitled Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work and Learn, and forecast that sixty-percent of students now entering grade school will eventually have jobs that have not yet been invented. While this is an exciting prospect, it makes it hard for a student to plan for the future – and this can be terrifying.

Help for Your Teenager or Young Adult is Available

This article has discussed just some of the modern day stresses placed on today’s teenagers. If your teenager or young adult is trying to cope with stressors that are causing acute anxiety, depression, or behavioral problems, Doorways is here to help you. You don’t have to struggle on your own – give us a call to find out how our support can help you and your teenager.

Young Adults Summer Eating Disorders Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) Phoenix, AZ

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Summer Eating Disorders IOP for Young Adults, PHoenix, AZYoung Adult Summer Eating Disorder Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)  for ages 18-25

Help your young adult keep on track with their eating disorder treatment this summer.

Program runs June 4th, -August 9th, 2018.

Call us at 602-997-2880 or email [email protected]

Doorways has insurance contracts with Aetna, BCBS, Cigna and United Behavioral Healthcare for our IOP services. Please contact your insurance provider for coverage limits.  


Counseling for Your Teen: What to Expect

The American Counseling Association (ACA) has designated April as Counseling Awareness Month. The ACA focuses its promotions on all mental health counselors, including those working with teens and adolescents. Many teens are in therapy today trying to cope with a variety of teenage problems. So, let’s take the opportunity to talk about what you and your teen can expect if you decide that your teen could benefit from teen counseling.

Getting Help for Mental Health Issues Isn’t Shameful

The Office of Adolescent Health (a government agency) reports that approximately one in five adolescents will experience some type of mental health issue. It’s important to understand that there is no longer a stigma attached to seeking help for a psychological problem. After all, if your teen breaks a leg, you will take the teen to an orthopedic doctor. If your teen has an earache, you will make an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat specialist. Thinking along these lines, you should readily recognize that if your teen is depressed, suffering from an eating disorder, or has some other kind of mental health issue, you should take your teen to a specially trained teen counselor.

Why Do Teens Have Mental Health Problems?

Teen mental health relates to how a teen acts, feels, and thinks in different situations. All teens experience times when they think or feel something that they don’t like. Or, they may do things that other people don’t like. Both of these situations are normal. However, teens can be said to have mental health issues when they regularly experience actions, feelings, or thoughts that create obstacles in their lives that they have difficulty overcoming. Teen counselors have been trained to understand and help the teen overcome such problems.

What Does Teen Counseling Consist of?

Counseling for teens falls into three main categories: individual, group, and family therapy. A teen will participate in one or more kind of counseling depending on the teen’s individual needs. Generally, therapy will last at least three months on a once-a-week basis, but counseling sessions are designed to continue for as long as necessary. Some problems may resolve very quickly. More complex issues take longer before progress is made, and your teen might be in counseling for a year. Here are some details on each type of therapy.

Individual Therapy

A teen will meet with a therapist on a one-to-one basis for about an hour. The therapist will work to gain the trust and confidence of the teen so that the teen will feel comfortable talking about their problems. The teen might be given “homework” that will help them get through their everyday life. Everything the teen confides to the therapist is confidential. The only exception to confidentiality is if the therapist has good reason to believe that the teen might hurt themselves or someone else.

Group Therapy

Being part of a group allows the teen to learn how other teens handle similar problems and practice new ways to manage their own. Starting out in a new group is bound to be a little scary at first. However, the group therapist will work to make the teen feel more comfortable with the other group members as the sessions progress. It’s common practice for groups to consist of approximately five teens and there may be two counselors. The group leaders will raise topics and ask questions, but each teen is free to ask their own questions. Group therapy sessions usually last about ninety minutes.

Family Therapy

Sometimes it’s beneficial to get family members involved with a teen’s counseling. Family members usually mean parents but can include brothers and sisters. Because everyone is present, the therapist can work on problems affecting the whole family. The therapist will discourage interruptions, and make sure everyone gets to voice their concerns.


Here at Doorways we understand the importance of a teen having a good relationship with their therapist. Our trained counselors will know how to gain the trust and confidence of your teen. We counsel individuals in the age group of 13-25, so if your teen or young adult could benefit from counseling, book an appointment with us. Doorways always offers a free consultation to parents and caregivers. We can help you decide if counseling is right for your teen.

Keep Your Teen Sober This Summer

Summer is just around the corner and many parents worry about what they are going to do with their teenager to keep them out of trouble in the summer.

close up of smiling young women in sunglasses

Adolescence in and of itself comes with a greater likelihood of alcohol use, but there are some factors that increase the risk of a teen abusing alcohol. One of the best ways to help teens avoid this behavior is to equip parents with knowledge of the issue and specific methods to protect and educate their teens.

Everybody Is Doing It

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, underage drinking accounts for over 4,300 underage deaths annually. It is also a factor in over 189,000 emergency rooms visits by people under age 21 for injuries and other conditions. This is a real issue facing real teenagers in every social circle. Surveys indicate that underage drinking is an issue among all races and socioeconomic levels. Simply put, your zip code and family history does not doom you or shield you from the dangers of underage alcohol use. Pretending the issue doesn’t exist, or thinking your child would never make such a reckless choice, is a recipe for disaster.

Kids Will Be Kids

Kids are curious and social and like any human, want to be liked and accepted. Curiosity is not a bad thing. Being social is not a bad thing. However, these are definitely factors in why so many young people choose to partake in alcoholic beverages before reaching the legal age to do so. Yes, kids will be kids. Parents and guardians just need to know that part of being a kid is exactly what makes one more likely to drink, which leads to a number of other dangerous behaviors and situations. Knowing that kids will be kids, parents must be parents. Set boundaries. Keep an open dialogue and be willing to provide alternate activities for your teen and their friends.

Keep Talking. Keep Listening.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about the dangers of alcohol. Brief but frequent conversations about alcohol can make a significant impact on your teen’s ability to resist peer pressure. Keeping an open dialogue also creates a safe and more comfortable environment for your teen to ask questions or express concerns about the issue. As much as you speak with your teen about alcohol use and abuse, be sure to listen. Give them opportunities to open up about their own opinions regarding alcohol and other substance abuse. Allowing them a safe place to speak increases their likelihood to “just say no.”

Draw A Line in the Sand

In the midst of worrying and talking and listening, be sure to make your viewpoint clear. Make sure your teen knows that underage drinking is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in your home. Set reasonable but firm expectations. Keep your message consistent and set consequences ahead of time. Being honest up front sets the stage for other “real” conversations. Be a parent first, friend second.

The statistics are startling and can easily make parents want to bury their heads in the sand. Resist the temptation to flee. No matter what challenges your child is facing, talking to them can literally make the biggest difference. Face the issue head on and know that you can be the driving force in keeping your teen from using alcohol.

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What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy and How Does it Help Teens?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a style of therapy that is influenced by the idea of the balancing of opposites (dialectics). The treatment aims to help the individual hold two seemingly opposing viewpoints on a problem in their mind at once. This promotes balance and avoidance of seeing everything as either black or white. At the heart of DBT is the dialectic that someone can both accept themselves and want to change.

How Can Dialectical Behavior Therapy Help a Troubled Teen?

DBT is a type of therapy that provides teens and young adults with skills to help them cope with painful emotions and lessen conflicts in interpersonal relationships.

DBT consists of skills in the following four areas : .

  • Mindfulness – Teaches teens how to be present in the moment, without judgment.
  • Distress Tolerance Crisis skills that help to delay harmful behaviors or actions. Skills aim to help increase a teen’s ability to tolerate negative emotions, as opposed to trying to escape from them.
  • Emotion Regulation – Provides teens with education on the purpose of emotions as well as skills on how to name/identify, manage and change unwanted emotions.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness – Gives teens techniques to get their needs met in relationships without sacrificing the relationship or their self-respect. Overall aims to give teens skills to improve relationships and decrease conflict.

When Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy Used?

A type of cognitive-behavioral treatment, DBT was established during the 1980s by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD). (Dr. Linehan founded The Linehan Institute , a non-profit organization which aims to advance mental health by supporting compassionate, scientifically-based treatments.) Teens diagnosed with BPD experience extremely intense emotions that they are unable to manage, especially when they are interacting with family members, friends, or romantic partners.

Other Reasons to Use Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT has been found to be helpful in treating a wide range of mental health concerns, including depression and anxiety, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and actions, substance use, eating disorders, mood disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. DBT treatment is typically offered as a combination of individual therapy and group sessions.

Individual Dialectical Behavior Therapy Sessions

During an individual therapy session, the therapist will work with the teen and family to ensure the teen is safe and teach skills to help the teen decrease and stop engaging in harmful behaviors. The focus of the sessions will be to help the teen increase willingness, apply DBT skills to daily life, and improve the overall quality of life.

Group Dialectical Behavior Therapy Sessions

Group sessions are conducted by a trained DBT therapist. Groups typically have 8-12 members and last anywhere from 1-3 hours. Groups meet anywhere from once to three times per week. Teens can expect to engage in safety planning, learning and practicing skills, and completing mindfulness exercises.

What to Look for in a DBT Therapist

If you think your teen or young adult could be helped by DBT, you need to seek out a therapist who has been trained in this kind of therapy. It’s also important to find a therapist with whom your teen feels comfortable working. Doorways specializes in DBT and will focus on building an alliance with your teen to help them lead a happier life. Set up an appointment for a consultation with us today.

Does My Teen Have Bipolar Disorder?

Since 2014, #World Bipolar Day (WBD) has been celebrated annually on March 30. WBD is a project of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) together with the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD) and the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF). WBD was set up to make people aware of bipolar disorders and to combat the social stigma related to them.

Why was March 30th Chosen for WBD?

The choice of the March 30th date has some interesting history behind it. March 30th was the artist Vincent Van Gogh’s birthday. It is thought that Van Gogh may have been suffering from bipolar disorder. No one knows for sure whether Van Gogh cut off his ear because of bipolar disorder or because of some other reason. This Artnet News article provides some fascinating speculation on this subject.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder (or manic-depressive illness) is a mental condition that presents significant challenges to teen sufferers, their family members, communities, and healthcare professionals. The understanding that bipolar disorder is a medical condition is growing, but, unfortunately, stigma relating to bipolar disorder remains a barrier to proper treatment in many parts of the world.

What are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Teens with bipolar disorder experience unusually intense emotional swings (known as mood episodes). These mood episodes can be accompanied by extreme changes in sleep patterns and activity levels, and difficulty in carrying out day-to-day tasks. Moods run the gamut between periods of extremely “up” (elated and energized) behavior, called manic episodes, and extremely “down” (sad or hopeless) periods, called depressive episodes.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms are not Normal

These mood and behavioral changes are different than the typical “highs” and “lows” that all teens and young adults experience. Bipolar disorder feels like being on a roller coaster that the sufferer didn’t sign up to ride. There are several levels of bipolar disorder depending on the severity of the symptoms. Click here to read about the different types of bipolar disorder.

How Common is Bipolar Disorder Among Teens and Adolescents?

A fair amount of evidence indicates that bipolar disorder tends to appear in adolescence or early adulthood. The National Comorbidity Survey shows that the rate of bipolar disorder from the age of fifteen and up is in the range of 3.1-7.0 percent. Most college students enter college in their late teens and many find college to be a stressful time. Stress related to being in college can contribute to a variety of mental health issues and disorders being expressed and experienced, including bipolar disorder. Approximately 3.2 percent of college students have symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Where Can I Find Help for a College Student?

If you have a college-age young adult, you may want to acquaint yourself with this National Institutes of Health (NIH) report on the range of disorders that can affect students. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a list of organizations that have been set up to assist young adults with a variety of mental disorders.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

Researchers believe that bipolar disorder occurs because of a combination of different factors – genetics (bipolar disorder often runs in families), chemical or other changes in the brain, environmental factors, and traumatic experiences.

How is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

Fortunately, bipolar disorder can be effectively managed in several ways. Treatment may include psychotherapy and/or medication. Support from a teen’s family or friends is very beneficial. Good self-care is also important – a healthy diet, exercise, sleep, and abstinence from illicit drugs.


Medications can help manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder. An individual approach is essential to find the best medication and dosage for the affected person. Most teens and young adults with bipolar disorder will need to stay on medication to prevent relapses. Medications treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder, but the sufferer will also need support to build the skills necessary to live as close to a normal life as possible.


Various kinds of therapy will most likely be advised, alone or in combination with medication. Therapy types include behavioral, cognitive, and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Therapy helps the patient to understand, identify, and choose appropriate behaviors in situations where manic or depressive episodes are likely to be triggered. Lifestyle modifications, such as sticking to a sleep schedule or reducing caffeine/energy drinks, can also support the treatment process.

Place Your Teen Under Professional Care

If you are concerned that your teen may have Bipolar Disorder, it is important to have an evaluation done by a Psychiatric provider. The good news is that the emotions and behaviors connected with Bipolar are symptoms of a treatable disorder. Teens and young adults are resilient and can learn to manage their symptoms, and lead productive and meaningful lives. At Doorways, we are trained to recognize and treat bipolar disorder, so set up an appointment with us today.

DBT 101: Skills Group for Teens 13-18

DBT 101 is a psychoeducational group for teenagers age 13-18.  This group focuses on teaching healthy coping skills through mindfulness strategies. DBT101 has an “open door” policy; you may join at any time!

Hosted by licensed therapist:

Jenna Daniel, MC.

Tuesday nights from 6:00-7:45 pm

Cost: $45 per group.  (Discounted rate of $37.50 per group when paid in advance.)

Total is $300 for 8 weeks at a time. (Insurance not accepted for this group)

Contact Doorways at 602.997.2880 or at [email protected] for more information

*Doorways expects that any adolescent attending the DBT Group be involved in regular individual counseling at least twice monthly, either at Doorways or with another provider in the community. This is to reinforce what is learned in group and facilitate treatment for difficult i

How Crafting Can Help Your Teen

In 1994, the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) “crafted” the wonderful month called Craft Month. CHA has since changed its name to the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI). AFCI is committed to an overarching vision of enriching people’s lives through crafting and other creative activities. Since its very humble beginnings, craft month (March) has grown into a joyous international celebration by millions of craft enthusiasts who love “getting their craft on.”

Benefits of Crafting for Teens

Little kids love getting messy and making something fun. But, there’s no reason to stop being creative at the age of thirteen. Teens and young adults benefit from crafting in the following ways.

  • Helps to Create a Positive Identity – The sense of self is enhanced by the personal process of creating something.
  • Soothes Teenage Angst – Crafts can serve as mental yoga and provide teens with an activity that is mindful and calming.
  • Brings Imagination to the Fore – Crafts encourage teens to explore different creative ideas.
  • Develops Focus – To succeed at a craft requires strong focus and attention to detail.
  • Builds Confidence – Seeing a craft through from beginning to end provides a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  • Encourages Perseverance – A craft can be difficult to learn and delivers a healthy challenge to a teen.

Help Your Teen to Find Crafting Outlets

Unfortunately, arts and crafts programs are being eliminated or downsized in many schools. When young adults get to high school, they may only need one arts credit in order to graduate. Apart from pursuing a craft at home, students can often find interesting crafts programs at their local library. Take a look at what programs The American Library Association suggests libraries get involved with. Check out the libraries near you or talk to your library about setting up a crafts itinerary. Click here for a list of Arizona public libraries offering crafts programs. As well as your local library, there may be a summer camp with interesting arts and crafts programs.

Pottery Classes

Many teens enjoy pottery classes. Pottery involves more than just mixing clay, water, and other additives. It’s a craft that provides teens and young adults with a creative, relaxing outlet to make something unique. They can mold clay with just their hands, or learn to “throw” a pot or a bowl using a wheel. The resulting creation can be glazed and baked in a kiln. Check out the area where you live for pottery programs designed for teens and young adults. Here’s some help on finding pottery classes in the Phoenix area.

How do I Get My Teen Interested in a Craft?

Taking up a craft can enrich a teenager’s life. However, as I’m sure you know, it’s impossible to force a teen into a hobby. So, use some insight and gentle guidance to help your teen explore the idea of crafting and find the craft that most excites them. Asking a teen “what would you like to do?” is too vague and broad. Bring up the subject of crafting, ask your teen to think about it, and then bring the question up again later.

Don’t Turn Your Teen Off to the Idea of Crafting

Try not to go from being insightful and helpful to suffocating and nagging. Mention possible enjoyable activities, but don’t succumb to harping on them constantly. Most teens resent being pushed into things, so it may take some finesse to coax an adolescent into pursuing a craft you think they will enjoy. You could try passing along online suggestions like this one.

Be Supportive

Once a teen has expressed an interest in a craft, give them your full support and provide them with any necessary materials. If the teen needs space at home to pursue the craft, make sure there’s an area in your house where they can be creative. And, never chastise them for making a mess.

Do You Have a Teen with Issues?

We hope that your teen is involved in an engaging hobby of some sort. However, if your teen is suffering from a problem that you find difficult to cope with, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get them involved with a craft. Whatever the issue, Doorways is here to help you and your teen or young adult. We specialize in services for those aged 13-25 in the Phoenix area. Arrange a consultation with us to see how we can help you.

March is Self-Injury Awareness Month

For the past eighteen years or so, the first day of March has been dedicated as Self-Injury Awareness Day (SIAD). SIAD is an international event that aims to raise awareness about self-injury. Raising awareness means reaching out to people who practice self-injury and educating people who do not. Self-injury may also be called self-harm, self-mutilation, or self-abuse. All these terms are applied to behaviors where someone intentionally and repeatedly harms themselves in a manner that is impulsive but not intended to be lethal, hence the term nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI).

What Forms Does Self-Injury Take?

There is a variety of ways to inflict self-injury. The most common methods are skin cutting (70‑90%), head hitting or banging (21-44%), and burning (15-35%). Less common ways of inflicting self-harm include scratching so that bleeding occurs, punching objects or oneself, breaking bones purposefully, inserting an object into a body opening, and drinking a harmful liquid such as bleach. Most individuals engaging in NSSI hurt themselves in more than one way. For instance, many “cutters” also suffer from an eating disorder.

How Common is Self-Injury Among Adolescents?

Research indicates that self-injuring adults represent about four percent of the adult population in the United States. Rates are much higher among adolescents, with self-injury happening to approximately 15 percent of teens and at a rate of 17-35 percent among college students.

What Causes Teens and Young Adults to Injure Themselves?

People who self-injure report a variety of negative feelings—they may feel one or more of the following: empty inside; lonely; bored; fearful of intimate relationships; unable to resolve interpersonal difficulties; unable to express how they feel; misunderstood by others; under or over stimulated; afraid of responsibilities. Read this National Institutes of Health (NIH) report entitled Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Adolescents.

Physical Pain and Psychological Pain

Self-abuse is used as an outlet to relieve psychological pain. It may also be regarded as a means of exercising control over one’s body when you have no control over other aspects of your life. Unfortunately, relief is only temporary, and without appropriate treatment, a self-sustaining cycle often develops with urges to self-injure growing in frequency and becoming harder to resist.

Self-Injury and Suicide

While those engaging in non-suicidal self-injury do not mean to commit suicide, they may bring about more harm than they intend and end up with unanticipated medical complications. In severe cases of self-injury, the sufferer may become so desperate about the addictive nature of their behavior and their inability to control it, that they carry out a true suicide attempt.

What are the Warning Signs of Self-Injury?

If you are a parent, the appearance of unexplained or inadequately explained frequent injuries such as cuts, burns, or bruises, should definitely trigger concern. Don’t simply take at face value “I fell” or “The cat scratched me.” Be aware that your adolescent will attempt to conceal these physical signs of self-abuse with clothing, so pay attention if they start wearing inappropriate clothes such as pants or garments with long sleeves in hot weather. The physical symptoms will go hand-in-in hand with one or more of the following: low rate of self-esteem; difficulty handling feelings; avoidance of relationships; relationship problems; poor functioning at home or in school.

What is the Treatment for Self-Injury?

Effective treatment for self-injury sufferers usually takes the form of a case-appropriate mix of cognitive/behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and medication. In difficult to treat cases, other treatment services may be necessary. These could include partial-inpatient therapy of several hours per day or even hospitalization under a specialized self-injury hospital program. Services for accompanying problems such as eating disorders or substance abuse should be integrated into the treatment, depending on individual needs.

Seek a Professional Diagnosis

A teen or young adult who engages in self-injury should be evaluated by a mental health professional. Self-abuse behaviors may be symptomatic of other mental disturbances such as personality disorders (especially borderline personality disorder), anxiety disorders (especially obsessive-compulsive disorder), bipolar disorder, major depression, and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

Doorways Will Help You

Our professionals at Doorways Arizona specialize in helping anyone in the age group 13-25 who is self-injuring. If you are the parent of a teen or young adult that needs help with self-mutilation problems, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with us. Delaying will only prolong the problem and make things worse.

What Parents Can Do About Teen Dating Violence

Teen dating violence is a pattern of abuse or threat of abuse directed against teenaged dating partners. It can take several forms—physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological. In today’s digital age, cyberstalking and other forms of digital abuse represent the latest wave of teen dating violence. Teen dating violence is not limited to any one particular group or culture and can affect boys and girls of any race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.

How Prevalent is Teen Dating Violence?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that each year approximately 1.5 million students at the high school level experience physical abuse from a dating partner. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that, during one year, one in ten high school students were hurt physically by a romantic partner and 10 percent were victimized sexually. The most commonly affected group are girls aged between sixteen and twenty-four, but boys are not immune. The CDC estimates that 7 percent of girls and 4 percent of boys experience some form of dating abuse before the age of eighteen. Click here to read a detailed CDC report on teen dating violence.

How Do You Know if Your Teen is a Victim?

Sadly, many teens who are the victims of teen dating abuse suffer in silence. They are afraid, ashamed, or guilt-stricken. And, unfortunately, research conducted by Teen Research Unlimited found that many parents are unable to detect the signs of dating abuse. Although 82 percent of parents thought they were confident in their ability to recognize signs of abuse, only 42 percent knew how to identify the signs accurately. Here are some warning signs that parents should watch out for:

  • Bumps and bruises: If your teen is giving you reasons for injuries that don’t seem to add up, be suspicious. You need to keep probing to see if your teen is covering up dating abuse and trying to protect the abuser.
  • Changes in personality: Is your extroverted teen staying at home more and not socializing with friends? If this is the case, you have good reason to be concerned – the effects of isolation on an adolescent can be detrimental.
  • Drug use: Some instances of abuse follow drug use by the victim’s partner and often the victim has also been persuaded to take the drug. In other cases, a victim may turn to drugs and use them as a coping mechanism.
  • Lower grades: A decline in school performance may be an indication that something is wrong. According to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), a drop in grades often goes hand in hand with physical or sexual violence. Dating violence may also result in the student skipping school or even dropping out of school altogether.
  • Change in self-care: Have you noticed that your teen’s hygiene, sleep, and eating habits have changed? Poor self-care is another sign that something significant is going on in your teen’s life.
  • Secrecy: Have you caught your teen in lies about where they have been? If you feel your teen is hiding something from you, you’re probably right.

Talk to Your Teen

Many young people start dating in their teens, so it’s important to educate them about the possibility of ending up in an abusive relationship. Parents are less likely to talk to their teen about dating violence than other teen-related issues, such as academic performance, family finances, drugs, and sex. Parents, if you don’t speak to your teens about dating violence, who will?

Get Some Help

Teen dating violence can have a devastating impact on a teen’s emotional and social development. Teen dating violence may lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, or substance abuse. Whether the abuse is physical or emotional, it’s certain that the scars can last a lifetime. So, if you think your teen may be involved in an abusive dating relationship and you don’t know how to deal with it, seek the help of a professional counselor. Here at Doorways Arizona, we understand that, although teen dating violence shares some similarities with adult domestic violence, because of the young age involved, teen dating violence presents unique challenges. Arizona ranks in the second worst level for the number of students who experience dating violence, so make an appointment with Doorways today.