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Working with Depressed Teens

Have you ever worked with an oppositional teenager? Chances are underneath their anger is a source of depression.

Anger and rebellion are often a sign of underlying depression in teens. Most adolescents do not know how to verbally express their thoughts and feelings to the adults around them, nor do they know how to deal with sadness, grief or loss. One way for them to express their emotions is through anger.

When working with angry teens or children, try to get to the underlying reason for their anger. At first they may say it is something superficial, but if you dig a bit deeper, you may discover they are truly struggling with larger issues that need to be addressed and healed.

In my practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor, and having worked with teens in residential treatment, outpatient services, and in social services, I have found that direct talk therapy does not always result in getting the right answers that we need to help, so by using therapeutic games, allows the child or teen to talk about their issues in a non-direct way, helping the Therapist, parent, or mental health provider gain a better understanding of what is truly at the root of their anger.

The next time you work with kids or teens and suspect they may be dealing with depression, try to use a therapy game, art therapy or other play therapy tool to imitate and gain a a better understanding of what is truly going on with them.

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