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Adolescent issues

Being a teenager is not always an easy thing…it is a time of vulnerability, subjected to the physical and psychological effects of puberty.
In general, experiences at this stage in life in particular are not lived in a neutral manner. When an adolescent has educational or emotional difficulties, or behaviour that concerns their parents, there is a risk of further developmental problems.

Adolescence and family relationships

Adolescents lose some of the sheltering of the sheltering and protective veil of childhood and need to find new ways of relating to others and in particular their parents. They also lose, to some extent, the support given by adult to child. They can find the relationship with their parents difficult and become defiant or hostile, distancing themselves. It can simultaneously be a difficult time for the parents who struggle with the relationship with their teenage child.
An initial consultation enables the psychologist to determine if psychotherapy or parental guidance seems necessary.

Learning and adolescence

Today’s society is a lot more demanding on adolescents and their capacities - expectations accumulate. Adolescents are asked to make career choices before they have even developed their own identity and whilst their desires and projections into adulthood may still be vague.
Yet whilst adolescents may have ease learning, they can also find themselves faced with difficulties.

Learning difficulties

Adolescents can face educational difficulties whether or not they are the consequence of learning disorders.
Academic difficulties or even failure at school are factors that can render emotionally fragile. They can cause a loss of self confidence and lead to negative self image. Even more so in Hong Kong society where pressure for professional and financial success is extremely present.
An initial appointment enables the psychologist to determine if a psychological and neuropsychological assessment is necessary.


Adolescents may show signs of intellectual precocity.
They may have learnt to read alone, without parents’ help and before starting primary school. They learn quickly and ask many questions, taking in interest in the outside world. They are adolescents known as gifted or high potential.
An initial consultation enables the psychologist to determine if a psychological and neuropsychological assessment are necessary.

Admission into a school

As part of their admissions process, some schools such as the Ecole Jeanine Manuel de Paris, request a copy of the child’s WISC or WPPSI assessment report.

Risk taking and destructive behaviour during adolescence

Just like adults, adolescents face potentially traumatic challenges in life such as the loss of a loved one, a relationship break up, a move overseas that could be at the origin of painful separations and loss of bearings.

These difficulties can be a source of suffering and anxiety. The anxiety may manifest itself through behavioural problems, conflict seeking, academic difficulties, withdrawal or avoidance of social relations.

If suffering is considerable during this stage of life then auto-destructive and risky behaviour can become the main means of expression.

At this time, symptoms of anxiety can develop: compulsive buying, stealing, drug and alcohol addiction, suicide attempts, self harm and so on.

Psychological consultations can be a way to overcome these difficulties: the psychologist can work with the teenager through psychotherapy and the parents via parental guidance.

Mental illness during adolescence

Adolescence with all the hormonal changes involved,is a time of outbreaks of potentially serious mental illnesses.

Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, polydipsia (compulsive drinking) are part of these.

Psychotic disorders such as bipolarity or schizophrenia can be triggered at this stage in life. Sometimes, when the diagnosis is unclear, a psychological evaluation can serve to confirm the presence of a psychotic personality structure.

It is essential to address these types of issues via psychotherapy and parental guidance.

Does he/she need to see a psychologist?

As soon as unhappiness, difficulty or struggling with emotions are identified by the adolescent and/or their parents, a consultation can be considered. It is never too soon to seek help: the sooner we act, the better chance there is of preventing symptoms from developing and worsening.

However, beyond relieving symptoms, psychological consultations aim to act on the long term by preventing the evolution of difficulties and issues, through accompanying the child during this very vulnerable stage in life that is so important to the forming of personality.

As Dolto said, adolescent psychotherapy is first and foremost preventative. The objective of psychotherapy is to provide the adolescent with a space in which to freely think and express his or herself before moving on to a fulfilled adulthood. It also involves accompanying parents in their relationship with their child. However, only too often parents wait until the symptoms have advanced and are engrained and debilitating before seeking help. In this context, psychotherapy is no longer preventative: it becomes curative.