Inevitably with the teenage clients I work with, there comes a point in the process in which they tell me they are struggling. I often hear that the work we do is 'too hard' or 'it's too much' and that they want to stop coming to therapy. We all have moments like this in our life, when the struggle is too much, and we want to stop what we're doing. Sometimes it's appropriate to leave a situation that's too hard or unhealthy, but at other times, it's important to consider if we should stick it out.
I'm reminded of the story of the lobster, which is, to varying degrees of effect, helpful to some of my teenage clients.
The Lobster Story goes like this:
Because the lobster has a hard exoskeleton, it has to shed it's shell every so often to grow a new one. During this time, it goes under a rock, and buries itself for a while while this transformation occurs. It crawls out of the old home, as the new one grows and becomes harder. After a few weeks, he emerges with a larger home which he can carry out into the ocean with a sense of confidence that comes from being a slightly larger, better equip lobster.
The important part of this story is how the lobster knows it's time to hide under a rock and grow a new shell.
His feelings are what give him the clue - when the old shell gets too small, his insides squish up against it. Essentially he feels horribly uncomfortable and just can't go on anymore.
His discomfort is the clue that he's growing.
Sometimes these feelings are the same for humans - when we are uncomfortable and feel that we can't go on, it may be a sign that we are growing and changing.
Most often in therapy, the process becomes difficult or challenging too, and that's because we are shedding old ideas and old ways of being that no longer fit us. We sometimes have to understand that the discomfort is a sign of growth.
Oliver Drakeford is a Teen Therapist and works in the adolescent therapy field to help teens who are struggling with a variety of issues. Teen therapy is often a vital part of recovery from video game addiction, substance misuse, parent conflict as well as depression and anxiety. If you are looking for a teen therapist in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills or West Hollywood, please connect with me.