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Expand Your Knowledge: Learn These Therapy Terms to Better Understand Your Struggling Teen

When it comes to connecting with your teen, it’s important to know how she thinks. Learning and practicing therapy terms helps to achieve this:

Therapy Term: Active Listening

Active listening is “an immersive experience in which you are focused on the individual and are present merely in your responsibility to listen.” It’s distraction-free listening. Parents can engage with teens through eye contact, body language, and responses.  

How to:

  • Put away your phone and any items of distraction.
  • Remember the goal of your presence.
  • Focus on what your teen says in the present moment. Don’t try to jump ahead, or go back.
  • Don’t interrupt your teen. Instead, let her guide the conversation.
therapy terms
Therapy Term: Metacognition

Metacognition is “the concept that encompasses awareness about one’s thoughts.” When we recognize our thoughts, we have the power to change them. We can also “observe them, recognize their impact, and opt to edit them.”

How to:

  • Observe your everyday thoughts.
  • Decide whether your thoughts help or hurt you.
  • Find out where your thoughts are coming from.
  • Choose whether to keep your thoughts or to alter them for the better.
Therapy Term: Congruence

Congruence is the practice of matching your internal values with your external behaviors. As Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

How to:

  • Think about your core values.
  • Consider how your thoughts and behaviors align.
  • Did your actions support your values? How did it make you feel? Decide what you can do to shift your thoughts or actions.
Therapy Term: Dissonance

Dissonance is the discomfort that arises when there is a mismatch between your thoughts, beliefs, or actions.” Dissonance shares a relationship with congruence. “That lack thereof prompts psychological stressors such as anxiety, frustration, and sadness.”

How to:

  • Build upon your congruence strategy.
  • When you notice a disconnect between your thoughts and actions, reorient yourself.
  • Practice consistency.
  • Use in-the-moment awareness to de-stress and change directions.
Therapy Term: Empathy

Many people consider sympathy and empathy to be one in the same. But, empathy is “engulfing yourself in another person’s context and placing yourself in their shoes.” Sympathy is self-focused. Empathy focuses on the “position of the other person.”

How to:

  • Question whether your focus is on yourself or another person.
  • Take practicing empathy in levels.
  • Empathy is a deep point of emotion. While developing empathy, don’t forget to practice self-care.
Therapy Term: Enable

Enabling is to “provide authority to someone. It also examines the level of power provided.” Levels of enabling fall onto a bell curve. It’s when “the intensity of assistance may do more harm than good in the bigger picture.”

How to:

  • Avoid enabling by taking responsibility for how you encourage others.
  • Be aware that your actions may be unhelpful to others in the future.
  • Use the bell curve method. “If you were given too much, what do you believe would happen?”
Therapy Term: Enmeshed

Enmeshment is when “blurred boundaries may exist in a relationship or wider system.” Also known as co-dependence. Enmeshment is when one “finds it difficult to differentiate between the thoughts, feelings, and values of another person, and those that are their own.” It can become mentally unhealthy when one loses a sense of self.

How to:

  • Ask yourself: Who are you? Who influences who are you?
  • Consider your relationships.
  • Is changing yourself detrimental to your relationship?
  • Determine whether the relationship is unhealthy.
Therapy Term: Projection

Projection is when one “attributes her concerns to another individual.” This is to preserve the ego. “When you are frustrated with the qualities of another person, it may be because it relates to you in some way.”

How to:

  • Figure out when a negative emotion is triggered within you. Reflect on what that emotion means to you.
  • Work on changing negative characteristics.
Therapy Term: Psychogenic

Psychogenic is the link between mental and physical well-being. Individuals should “realize the underlying psychological stressors.” Reducing mental stress can also reduce physical pain.

How to:

  • When physical pain arises, link the physical with mental.
  • Consider how the issue may be representative of something else.
  • Don’t ignore the source of pain, but consider mental and physical variables.
Therapy Term: Schema

A schema is “a combined system of categorizations. They are flexible, especially in our early years, and change as we expand the realm of what we know.” The schema never stops learning or growing.

How to:

  • Embrace lifelong learning.
  • Always work to expand your mind. Question what you know, and learn something new.

To learn more about teen treatment options, click here.