How high is your self esteem on a scale of 1-10?
This is a question that often comes up in my intake sessions with teens. Assessing self esteem and confidence as part of their overall functioning and presentation is essential during the first several sessions. High levels of self esteem and confidence usually coincide with lower levels of depression and anxiety in teens.
And I get it - it’s tough to be confident as a teen. With social media being a (often distorted) highlight reel of impossible standards of beauty and achievement it’s so easy for teens to fall into the trap of feeling like…well… they just don’t measure up.
On top of all of that, they often see their friends and peers that are hanging out…without them. That party, weekend trip, or visit to Starbucks they didn’t get invited to.
So, it makes sense as therapists that we are interested in all the activities, worksheets, handouts, and techniques to help improve and boost self esteem and confidence in teens!
According to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, taking control over the thoughts in our brain is one of the big ways we can shift our feelings and actions, leading to more regulation and less symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, or anger.
This also makes sense for self esteem too!
If a teen is triggered by seeing all their friends at the game together and they weren’t invited and they think “everyone hates me”, that is likely to lead to a pretty depressed feeling. This might lead to them avoiding this friend group, potentially leading to more distance.
For the teen that crammed at the last minute and was up until 2am writing that paper they just got back with a giant F on it, they might think “I’m never going to get this, what’s the freaking point”. These panicked and hopeless feelings might lead to more anxiety about studying and increased procrastination.
You get the point.
So, one of the most powerful things we can do as therapists when we are working with self esteem is working with the skill of intentionally shifting cognitions.
Check out this FREE DOWNLOAD of 42 positive self statements and affirmations for teens for self esteem.
This is a great resource to print out, cut out, and sort through with teens. It can help them with cognitive restructuring by identifying the maladaptive thoughts they most often have and by selecting positive self statements.
In short - when you are triggered and having unhelpful thoughts, what would you rather think that is true AND helpful?
These are also great for teens to keep and have on hand as not only a reminder but a tactile coping skill! Think flash cards, but a little cuter!
And they can also be used in session as a jumping off point for sand tray, art, or collages!
Don't forget to grab your FREE DOWNLOAD HERE!
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I'm Ann Meehan, an LPCC,