Our culture takes a much more responsible and understanding view of young children than it did thirty years ago. The general approach to adolescents is seriously lacking in comparison. Although we generally acknowledge the importance of the effects of childhood nurturing on a person’s wellbeing, it is normal to take a blaming stance when teenagers have problems. Commonly people expect teenagers to be disrespectful and destructive. Teenagers are treated as the enemy far too often. They are marginalised as a whole and the extreme results of this is seen in the high rates of mental illness and self-harming behaviour amongst adolescents and particularly homelessness, crime and hard drug use.
The ‘old-school’ approach is very critical and control-oriented. Control in itself is not a bad thing, we all need to develop healthy self-control in order to live healthy lives. Exercising control over our boundaries is a necessary part of taking care of and responsibility for ourselves. However, the type of control that involves those in authority suppressing those who dissent is unhealthy. It demands that the vulnerable carry an unfair share of the strain (and pain) in our society.
If you or someone you love is suffering and making self-destructive choices, then treating the cause is really the ideal path to take. Art therapy can do this in a gentle and effective way. Working with the pace of the individual, healing and strengthening is possible. Transpersonal art therapy is nurturing and safe and as powerful as the individual needs it to be.
The future looks much brighter to me with these growth opportunities in sight.