Issues Know No Class

teen counseling

My Master’s Degree is in Social Work so every two years, I have to do continuing education hours that is specific to the field. In every training I have attended, everyone goes around the room to introduce themselves and where they do their work. Inevitably, after I share my name and that my work is in private practice in Southlake Texas at least one if not more attendees pipes up to the group and says something like “Southlake?! What problems do people in Southlake have? Can’t decide which BMW to buy?” and then there are chuckles throughout the room. Being me, I do my own piping up and inform the group that making assumptions based on preconceived ideas about a specific group of people has a name for it and I highly doubt they want to be seen as “those” types of people that are, gasp, prejudice. I also remind them that tears are tears and it doesn’t matter where they are cried, pain feels the same no matter what zip code you live in. That usually quiets the room and the instructor moves on to the next person for introductions. I really adore and value my clients and how dare anyone in a training put them down? I have a little justice streak in me so going to bat is a comfortable place.

With that said, I have dealt with the professional mocking, if you will, for having a counseling practice in Southlake Texas, which in 2008 was named by Forbes magazine as the nation’s richest community. Not sure how the economic shifts since then have affected Southlake’s standing but you get the point.

So with this perception by “outsiders” that no one in a community like Southlake, Colleyville, Coppell or the other surrounding cities  have any real problems to speak of, I was relieved to see the December 2o13 issue of Psychology Today have an article titled “The Problem with Rich Kids.”  The researcher has found that “in a surprising shift, the offspring of the affluent today are more distressed than other youth.” What? Yes.  The article states that research shows that affluent youth are at equal or higher risk than their lower socioeconomic counterparts for “substance abuse, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, cheating and stealing. It gives a whole new meaning to having it all.” Our kids are hurting and finally someone outside of us is noticing.

I am so thankful that an article such as this has been published in a well distributed magazine like Psychology Today. It is high time that the serious concerns facing the youth of affluent parents is being talked about at a broader level than community based.

What are we to do for the youth in our neighborhoods, schools and homes? The same thing that myself and other therapists in the area have been talking about; help youth find their individual giftedness and interests without putting excessive pressure on their daily schedules. I know it’s hard to break the mold of what everyone else is doing and what is needed to be competitive when preparing for college. We have to give our youth the ability to get off the figurative treadmill for breaks and refreshing.

The pressures that our youth feel within this geographical region won’t go away tomorrow. But we do have to teach them to value self-care as much as maintaining the highest GPA possible.  I would much rather youth learn to balance the many demands they face and not need a stint in rehab to give them a break from a high pressured life.

We have some incredibly sweet, loving, smart and gifted youth in our community. I am proud to own a business in Southlake and work with the clients I am privileged to do life with. I am very thankful that the concerns many of us have been facing regarding our precious youth is getting the much needed attention it deserves. Maybe next time I attend a social work training, there might be more enlightenment in the room. I can only hope.

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