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  • Writer's pictureMel

Growing Pains: Helping Kids and Teens Holistically

Updated: Mar 19, 2022

Some demands, like schoolwork, first job applications, or university admissions, might feel familiar to the ones we faced when we were younger. Others, however, are evidence of a social world which is changing too rapidly for experience-borne advice to hold much meaning.

Social media, for instance, has brought with it a host of issues that many parents may struggle to understand and empathise with. It’s been linked in research to reducing young people’s (especially girls’) self-esteem and wellbeing, for instance, and every interaction that I have with a teenager at the Forest Loft reflects this. Apps like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or TikTok are brand new means for users to communicate with, compare and critique each other – and they haven’t replaced the old, ‘traditional’ means of childhood bullying. The schoolyard is still a brutal place, and wherever teenage friend groups exist, someone will be ostracised or forced to find another. These are the kinds of conflicts we usually understand, because we have often experienced them. But it can be hard to offer advice on (or even become privy to) cyberbullying, revenge porn, or the emotional weight of comparing oneself daily to photoshopped images of celebrities and influencers.

Of course, even if they aren’t avid social media users, young people are also growing up into an extremely uncertain world. Climate change, COVID—19, and a relentless onslaught of social crises are defining the status quo for a generation, and this is causing extreme anxiety for many of its members.

Finally, none of this takes into account the impact of childhood trauma on young people. Think of the anxiety that results from pervasive uncertainty about the future, and the assault on wellbeing from social media as baseline emotional states. When a child endures adverse circumstances (including emotional, physical or sexual abuse, trauma, or neglect), these are additional to the pressures of 21st century youth. What’s more, ⅓ of adults with mental health problems are suffering as a direct result of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Clearly, young people are in desperate need of support. But with more young people than ever before requiring mental health interventions, underfunded Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are struggling to cope. Although the efficacy of mental health treatment depends strongly on how quickly it is accessed, only 32% of children referred to CAMHS in 2020 began treatment within 4 weeks.

At The Forest Loft, children and teenagers are given the opportunity to talk about their experiences and emotions in a confidential and caring space. As a mother of two teenagers and an experienced senior manager of an inner city primary school, I understand that sensitivity, understanding and respect are key to helping young people move forward in a confident and positive headspace. After a discussion about my client’s needs and the possible ways to manage their feelings or situation, I deliver a Reiki session. This enhances the healing process, allowing their body to let go of the issues and begin to heal itself. The young people I have worked with so far have left feeling relaxed, happy, and somehow different, with that pain and worry left behind them. You can read their reviews here.

Sometimes, however, the issues that my clients are facing cannot be healed, and instead need to be overcome and accepted. The Forest Loft is a space for working together to achieve that acceptance; ultimately, my sessions are about developing tools for building resilience. These skills can be used throughout life - I still return to the breathing techniques and lavender aromatherapy I learnt about as a teenager whenever I feel like I need them!

If you feel that you or your child may benefit from a session at The Forest Loft but you have some questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will do everything I can to accommodate the needs of all my clients in a respectful manner - it’s important to me that you feel comfortable at all times.

Click below to book a session at The Forest Loft - I can't wait to see you soon!

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