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Mental health clinicians are acutely aware of the fact that children are inherently programmed to react to internal and external stimuli from an emotional standpoint. This can be attributed to the fact that a young person’s brain does not begin to reach its full development until age twenty-five, at the earliest. The prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain that reigns rational thought, executive planning, and impulse control) is the last area of the brain to fully develop. Consequently, adolescents innately process, problem solve, and make decisions using their amygdala (the area of the brain that is most closely associated with impulsivity, aggression, emotion, and instinctive behavior). This places therapists in a unique position to offer pointed guidance and personalized support to children, even in times of personal distress. There are a variety of effective self-care practices that mental health professionals can integrate into their treatment protocol, some of which include the following, provided by the American Counseling Association:

  • Incorporating mindfulness techniques: Practicing mindfulness exercises (e.g., meditation, deep breathing, visualization, etc.) during therapy sessions can help both the therapist and child manage stress and anxiety. Data shows that meditation can help lower blood pressure, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, improve insomnia, and more.
  • Encouraging healthy lifestyle habits: Engaging in healthful habits and physically taking care of one’s body can improve mental health. Therapists can offer suggestions like:
    • Eat nutritiously.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Avoid smoking, alcohol, and other drugs.
    • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water: Experts recommend drinking a minimum of 64 oz of water, daily.
    • Prioritize sleep hygiene: Poor sleep habits can affect one’s circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle), which can have a negative impact on one’s mood. 
  • Modeling different coping strategies: Therapists can inspire children to explore different coping strategies by talking about their own self-care practices. For example, mental health professionals can share a few personal affirmations to encourage positive self-talk, which promotes self-confidence, effective coping, achievement, and a general feeling of well-being. 
  • Facilitating creativity: According to research, creative activities can positively affect adolescents’ behavioral changes, self-confidence, and self-esteem.

Every young person is different, and each child will mature through their adolescence at a varied pace, while encountering nuanced and unique challenges. The needs of each young person vary drastically, and often continuously shift as they enter new stages of their lives. Learning the importance of and how to effectively implement consistent self-care practices can benefit a child throughout their adolescence and long after. 

Further Information and Support

For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.

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