Are You Afraid To Take Healthy Risks And Engage With The World?
Do you feel highly anxious in social situations, break commitments or make excuses to yourself and others for not attending social events? Are you having trouble in school or struggling to maintain a job? Do you feel bad about who you are or how you look and believe that you don’t belong? Have negative past experiences impacted how you feel about people and the world in general? Do you often feel sad, angry, overwhelmed or frustrated with yourself or others? Have you engaged in any self-medicating behaviors to distract yourself, such as using drugs, alcohol, or engaging in unhealthy behaviors like compulsive gaming? Do you feel highly stressed, like the demands put on you by your parents and/or society are just too much, and wish that everyone would leave you alone? Do you wish you could feel more comfortable in your own skin, have an easier time making friends, and see the world as a less scary place?
Many Young Adults Struggle To Adjust To A Bigger And Broader Social Environment
Making the transition from teenager to young adult can be challenging enough. And, it can be especially difficult for young adults who already suffer from anxiety, have depressed feelings about themselves, and don’t have a lot of friends or a solid support system. While many young adults spend their time in college going out with friends and on dates, gaining a more developed sense of who they are, and figuring out how they want to be in the world, that’s not the case for everyone. For some, the young adults years can be overwhelming, frightening and confusing.
Social anxieties and related issues are more common that you might think, and although there may have been social anxieties during the teenage years, these feelings can become amplified as pressures from society to interact with the world in new ways increase – as they often do after high school. Watching peers leave for college and enjoying the fun and freedom that generally comes with young adulthood can compound negative thoughts and feelings and increase social withdrawal.
Therapy Can Help Remove The Obstacles That Keep You From Taking Healthy Social Risks
With the right therapist, therapy can be an extremely effective way to reduce social anxieties and experience a more satisfying social life. Therapy for young adults with social issues is highly individualized, and you may also benefit from working with a therapist who is willing to work as a mentor, get out of the office and help you engage in the real world. Finding the right therapist to work with is key. Because building a relationship with a therapist is the first step in overcoming social anxieties, it’s important that you find a therapist who really understands the young adult population, is a good match for your personality and is someone who you feel comfortable being open and honest with.
Your highly trained and experienced BPS therapist can help you identify and address the root thoughts and feelings that are affecting your confidence, self-esteem and motivation. Together, you can work through the negative self-talk or internal reasoning that makes it difficult for you to do certain things, such as actively engaging in social interaction, keeping commitments, or being successful at a job. You can learn concrete skills – oftentimes in public spaces with your therapist – that can then be applied when you feel nervous or become avoidant of certain people and situations. You can practice using your new social skills, notice when fears or anxieties arise, and learn how to shift fear into more practical and reasonable thinking. In time, you can decrease your anxiety, become more confident, and start to successfully take healthy and positive social risks.
Even if you’re feeling hopeless right now, it is possible to begin taking healthy social risks and to interact with others and the world in meaningful and joyful ways. Some people are just late bloomers, and it takes them a little longer than others to figure out their strengths and how the world works. Thankfully, it’s never too late to come to these realizations, build knowledge, develop effective skills, and better understand yourself. With help, it is entirely possible to work through your fears and go on to enjoy healthy relationships as you continue into adulthood.
But, you may still have questions or concerns…
I’ve tried everything – even therapy – and nothing works. I’m beginning to wonder if anything can.
Therapy or other approaches may not have worked in the past because you may not have been ready. You are still young and your brain is still developing. Current research says that the adult brain does not fully develop until 25-28 years of age – which is later than what was once thought. This is good news for you!
The young adult years are an excellent time to engage in therapy. Your brain is still developing and open to accepting and assimilating new thoughts, ideas and behavioral patterns. And, you may be more mature now than you were when you last tried therapy, thus better prepared to really delve into therapeutic work and experience benefit. You may also have become uncomfortable enough with your current lifestyle that you are eager for change. Finally, you may not have worked with the right therapist in the past. Finding a therapist who specializes in overcoming social issues, works specifically with young adults, and who you feel a connection and sense of safety with can make a significant impact on your success.
I feel that my young adult child desperately needs help. The problem is that he or she adamantly refuses to try therapy.
Getting your child to agree to just one visit may be easier. Starting with a referral assessment will give your young adult child a chance to better understand their difficulties and learn that there are effective treatments that can help. If the social anxiety is so severe that your child is unwilling to leave the house, your best bet may be to find a therapist who is willing to go to your child – whether in person or by phone. A trained and experienced therapist may be able to negotiate a first meeting. Meeting with a therapist may help open your child up to the idea of therapy. As someone who works with social anxieties and related issues (and who is not the parent), a therapist can often help young adults see that life can change and get better – but that life can only get better if they take a chance.
I think that therapy could be helpful, but I’m concerned about costs.
This is your life and wellbeing, and the time to address your social anxieties and related issues is now. Addressing these issues now – as a young adult – can not only make you feel better sooner, but can prevent a host of problems from impacting your academic, professional, social and personal future as you continue into adulthood.
Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to work specifically with young adults struggling with social issues, or who they couldn’t relate with – which is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct a referral assessment and match you with a therapist who is trained and experienced to work with young adults suffering from social anxieties and whose personality is a good match for yours. Once you find that good match, making a commitment to yourself may be one of the most valuable investments there is. Imagine feeling and functioning better now and in the long-term on a regular basis and ask yourself what that’s worth.
If money still is an issue, you can talk with your BPS therapist to see if they work on a sliding scale. They may also be able to help you find other lower cost resources in the community.
We encourage you to schedule a referral assessment with a BPS therapist, trained by BPS Director Dr. Jan Hittelman. We will work with you to determine what your specific issues are and ensure a good match between you and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you with a therapist who has expertise treating young adults with social issues.
BPS therapist Jennifer Key, LCSW helped create the content for this page. Jenny has been working with socially challenged young adults since 1999. She practices traditional therapy methods, such as psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral techniques, as well as equine and animal therapies. Jenny has also found that young adults with social issues experience significant, positive change while interacting in real world environments. She often meets clients outside of the office to practice social skills.