Navigating Grief and Loss in Teens at Elevations RTC
Grief and Loss in Teens:
Teenagers can have a tough time during adolescence, especially when dealing with grief and loss. The combination of stress, hormonal changes, and self-discovery can sometimes be too much for them to handle.
Compassionate Therapeutic Approaches:
Elevations uses an overarching trauma-based therapy approach to support students and families move through the stages of grief and loss. Therapists help families identify the complexities of understanding and treating grief and loss. Therapy modalities used to support families can include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy. Parents or caregivers also receive support from others who have been through similar circumstances and understand them.
While on campus, Elevations’ staff also help create individualized experiences for students and parents to help heal the loss often experienced by distance and time away. This can include scheduling activities that feel similar to what the student may be enjoying back at home:
- School activities
- Time in the community
- Normalized high school setting
- Connecting with extended family or support networks
Understanding the Complex Layers of Grief and Loss in Teenagers: A Comprehensive Exploration
Grief and loss are intricate emotions that each of us grapples with at different times, and in different ways throughout life. These sentiments, universal as they may be, don’t follow a standard pattern, particularly for adolescents.
The teenage years are a time of profound change, encompassing physical, emotional, and social shifts. When compounded with the weight of significant loss—a beloved family member, the dissolution of parents’ marriage, or even the passing of a cherished pet—the emotional turbulence can be overwhelming, pushing adolescents into a complex labyrinth of feelings and challenges.
Emotional Turmoil: Unraveling the Depths of Teenage Grief
Teens experiencing grief often find themselves entangled in a whirlwind of emotions. Teenagers face complex emotions like sadness, anger, guilt, and confusion, which can be difficult for them to handle. Unlike adults, who might have developed better emotional regulation—or at least have more years of practice—teenagers often find it daunting to express these intense feelings openly. This suppression can metamorphose into behavioral problems, depression, or anxiety, further complicating their emotional landscape.
Academic and Social Struggles: The Ripple Effect of Grief in Teenagers’ Lives
Grief impacts every facet of a teenager’s life, not just their emotional landscape. Academically, the focus and concentration of grieving teens might waver, their energy sapped by waves of sorrow. For some, grief can feel like a heavy fog that clouds their thoughts and interactions. As a result, their grades may plummet. This can add extra stress to an already burdensome situation.
Furthermore, the social dynamics within school communities can become a minefield. Grieving teens might feel isolated and unable to connect with their peers on the same level as before. The laughter and camaraderie that once defined their interactions might now seem distant, leading to a sense of disconnection or loneliness.
The Body’s Silent Cry: Physical Manifestations of Teenage Grief
Grief doesn’t confine itself to the mind; our bodies react somatically to traumas, such as unexpected or unprocessed loss. Sleep patterns, once regular, may develop into irregular schedules, leaving them perpetually fatigued. Appetite can either vanish or transform eating into a coping mechanism, leading to unhealthy eating habits.
Internal struggles often manifest physically, with teens reporting inexplicable headaches, stomachaches, or other vague symptoms. These somatic manifestations can be the body’s silent cry for help, acting as a tangible representation of the emotional turmoil within.
Therapy groups can help teenagers with grief by exploring their emotions in a safe and supportive environment. Our therapists help teens process their grief and connect with others who understand their pain, forming strong bonds that provide support and comfort.
We understand that healing is not a linear process; it’s a mosaic of progress and setbacks, tears shed and smiles rediscovered. Elevations offers a therapeutic place for clinical support, outdoor activities, art therapy, individualized academics, and community. It is a place that helps people heal and find peace in difficult times. Here, we acknowledge and hold space for grief and loss while celebrating resilience, fostering an environment where hope blossoms anew.
If you are a parent witnessing your teenager navigate the tumultuous waters of grief, know you are not alone. Elevations is not just a therapeutic program; it’s a community, a dedicated and skilled family that understands the intricate layers of teenage grief. We help young people heal and show them that there is hope for a better future even when happiness feels out of reach.
Elevations: Providing Support and Healing
At Elevations, we understand how grief affects teenagers. We hold specialized therapy groups to fit the needs of our students. When many of our students are experiencing grief and loss, we run a group that offers specific support for grieving teens. Our approach involves:
1. Safe and Supportive Environment:
We create an environment where teens can feel safe to express their emotions. In therapy groups and in individual therapy, teens can share their stories, fears, and hopes with others who empathize with their pain. This fosters a feeling of belonging and understanding while bringing new perspectives.
2. Professional Guidance:
Through individual and group therapy sessions, teens can explore their emotions, develop coping strategies, and learn to navigate the grieving process. Our experienced therapists facilitate the group sessions, providing expert guidance and support.
Our interdisciplinary team consists of licensed therapists, teachers, psychiatric nurses, adventure recreation professionals and more, allowing for a full-spectrum understanding of teens through a variety of everyday life experiences. This collaborative approach helps students become healthier, more successful, and heal from their past experiences with professional guidance on all sides.
3. Holistic Healing Practices:
Elevations looks at whole-person treatment, not just medication prescription or talk therapy. Our programming includes things like outdoor recreation, art therapy, and mindfulness exercises. Engaging in these activities helps teens relax, reduce stress, and develop resilience, promoting overall well-being.
4. Building Resilience:
Our goal is to empower teens with the tools they need to build resilience in the face of grief. We guide them toward healing and growth by fostering a sense of community, encouraging open communication, and teaching effective coping mechanisms.
How can I know if my teen is experiencing grief?
Look out for signs like behavior changes, social withdrawal, academic decline, or physical symptoms such as headaches or loss of appetite. If you notice these signs, consider talking to your teen and seeking professional support.
How can therapy help my grieving teen?
Therapy provides a safe space for teens to express their feelings, process their grief, and develop healthy coping strategies. Therapists can offer guidance, support, and validation, helping teens navigate the complexities of their emotions.
Is it normal for teens to grieve differently from adults?
Yes. Teens may express grief differently from adults because of their unique developmental stage. They might alternate between periods of intense distress and apparent normalcy. It’s crucial to understand and respect their coping mechanisms.
How can I support my grieving teen at home?
Be patient, understanding, and open to communication. Encourage your teen to express their feelings and share memories. Consider when it is time to seek professional support through a therapeutic program or individualized therapy to help your teen cope effectively.
Dealing with grief and loss as a teenager is tough, but it gets easier with the right help and understanding. Elevations cares for teens dealing with grief, helping them find strength and hope for the future. Remember, you are not alone—Elevations is here to guide your family toward healing and recovery, one step at a time.
Jennifer is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who works well with complex family systems. Her training includes helping couples, families, children, adolescents and adults with a variety of presenting problems including trauma, self-harm, mental illness, mood regulation, unhealthy eating patterns, behavioral problems, foster care, and family conflict. Her specialty areas include working with struggling teens and family therapy. Her work experience includes working in public mental health, working with families and children who are involved in the foster care system or adopted, and working in residential care. Jennifer is also a certified Dialectical Behavioral Therapist.