“There’s no class on how to adult, and the related pressures can cause extreme stress and anxiety for young people—especially in the age of social media, which often focuses on displaying the perfect life,” says Jessica Levy, LCSW, Director of Outpatient Services at Princeton House’s Eatontown site, which now features a Young Adult Program. “Depending on the situation, there are two common consequences: negative thinking and depression, or the use of substances as an escape mechanism. That’s where intensive therapy can help.”
Effective coping skills and ongoing support are integral to helping young adults face life transitions, break free from societal pressures, and feel more confident to explore their own pathways.
“The focus should be less about a timeline and more about whether young people are happy with their direction and goals in life,” says Levy. “These decisions are not always black and white, so it’s important to consider the gray areas.”
Levy offers the following tips for behavioral health professionals working with young adults who are struggling with life transitions:
- Embrace compassion. Reinforce the fact that it’s OK to not have all the answers, especially at this stage in life.
- Help young adults examine goals. Ask them to set a scene for what would make them happy five years from now, and work backward to define steps toward that outcome.
- Meet patients where they are rather than where they’re expected to be. Check in with your own perspectives to be sure they are not being projected.
- Remember that treating a young adult is different than treating an adolescent. Engage parents or guardians in the therapeutic process, but focus on talking directly with the patient and listening to his or her specific concerns.
These concepts are part of the therapeutic approach at the new Young Adult Program at Eatontown, which provides treatment for young people ages 18 through the mid-20s in an environment tailored to their unique needs. In addition to partial hospital and intensive outpatient options that combine psychoeducation with intense psychotherapy, the program features a strong family education component. This includes a weekly group designed specifically for parents and loved ones—and even patients’ outside therapists are welcomed.
“Part of our goal is to get everyone on the same page, or the work accomplished in therapy can be undone when patients return home,” adds Levy.
“Patients come to us for just six to eight weeks, and we want to lay the groundwork that enables them to continue to grow and be successful in the future.”
For more information about the Young Adult Program, visit princetonhouse.org/youngadult or call 888.437.1610.
Article as seen in the Spring 2019 issue of Princeton House Behavioral Health Today.