Adolescence is a transition between childhood and adulthood. It's a psychosocial stage corresponding to a physical event e.g. puberty. It affects all social relationships (with parents and with peers). Adolescence can be compared to a new birth. As the baby has to leave the mother's womb to enter the world the adolescent has to prepare to leave their family and enter society. It is difficult for the teenager to leave and give up security. It is also difficult to stay and give up freedom.
Similarly to early childhood, troubles during adolescence are often expressed through physical ailments (headaches, stomach aches, eating disorders etc.). There is the same rage, the same intolerance to frustration, the same eagerness to live and to discover the world. Areas of the brain that cannot regulate emotion are not fully developed until around the age of twenty. This is the reason why adolescents tend to carry out risky behaviour. Their hormonal system is fully developed and their growing brain is saturated in sexual hormones, but the capacity to plan, anticipate, control impulse and delay action is not yet fully operational.
Friends and peers are extremely important during adolescence so feelings of being rejected will cause utter despair which can lead to depression. In their group of peers, the teenager seeks the same kind of security and reassurance that the baby needed from his mother. Belonging to a group of peers also helps the adolescent separate from his family and gain autonomy. Adolescence can also be compared to a loss, a form of death; it's the end of childhood and this time is over for good so teens may go through a grieving process. Peer support and friendships bring consolation. They enter a stage of identity crisis where there is a temporary feeling of loss before a new solid identity can be built. This is why teens are often easily influenced by others. It's a time of life filled with anxiety, with predominant feelings of vulnerability and feelings of emptiness with emotions that are contradictory.
Teens may use drugs, alcohol or tobacco to fill this feeling of emptiness, to calm down anxiety, and regulate changing emotions - eating disorders serve the same purpose. The beginning of an addictive behaviour such as drinking, smoking, fighting, stealing (in adulthood) can often be traced back to adolescence. This relieving effect is not necessarily long lasting unless it becomes a habit and a dependency.
Therapy can help your teenager to understand and manage their emotions in a confidential and safe setting. It can enable them to explore and control their impulsive behaviour. Therapy can give them a sense of self-worth and help create resilience and coping strategies for their life ahead. Therapy can teach a young person to communicate in a useful and productive manner giving them essential life skills and to make healthy, positive decisions in their life.