Adolescence is a very good time to be doing a comprehensive assessment because so much happens during this period. It is also a time when a comprehensive assessment may be most necessary. Adolescents have special challenges in life, and because of these challenges, the transition from adolescence to adulthood is one that many people never make. Adolescents have their own way of relating to each other and to the adults they come in contact with, and many adults simply don’t get that; they don’t understand why adolescents behave the way they do. When understanding breaks down, families get stuck in repetitive patterns that lead to escalating problems at home or school or both. Gifted children are often the most challenging as they reach adolescence, and this is also difficult for parents to understand.
Of all stages in life, adolescence probably encompasses the largest and widest range of potential psychological and behavioral difficulties. Significant hormonal changes impact the way an adolescent looks and feels. Adolescents’ brains change in rapid and fundamental ways. Social relations become increasingly important. Parents and their adolescents often have difficulty integrating these changes and coping with the demands of this transitional period. Additionally, it is during adolescence that some of the more serious mental illnesses begin to emerge. Conditions like major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and personality disorders (in particular, self-defeating personality traits) all commonly emerge during adolescence. Unfortunately, many of these conditions can present with the same initial symptoms, making diagnosis and treatment difficult. Assessments can sometimes clarify these diagnoses before the conditions have fully revealed themselves, and make it possible to attack these conditions with psychiatric and psychotherapeutic intervention before they become major life obstacles.
Many adolescents and their parents turn to friends and extended family, schools or places of worship for guidance. Therapy is another source of help. For decades I have devoted a large percentage of my practice specifically to working with adolescents and their parents. As a parent myself, I have empathy for the challenges families face as they work through the adolescent years. As a professional, my 30 years experience and skills as a psychologist, child and family therapist, neuropsychologist and adult and child psychoanalyst make me well-qualified to help you and your adolescent, either through treatment with psychotherapy, or through comprehensive assessment and referral.