Counselor Corner

Critical Topics addressed and evaluated by YHELP!'s Professional Certified Therapist Consultant


Being young can be a gift and curse. Some may argue that being a teen allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds, being able to engage in the joys of life without the responsibility. Everyone must understand that everyone’s journey as a youth is unique. We all have different upbringings, experiences and have faced different challenges that make us who we are today. But, the one thing that we all have in common regardless, of age, race or gender is that everyone has a voice.

It is the responsibility of adults, particularly parents and caregivers to ensure that teens feel empowered and know how to self-advocate. Often enough, adults take on the responsibility as the protector and  unknowingly shelter their children from life’s challenges, but if they receive the tools to face them head on and know that they have someone in their corner, they will become well-equipped adults. Self-advocacy plays a part in many ways from sharing your feeling, opinions, and speaking up when you need help or when you should help others. Advocating for your needs can come in handy at school, with friends, in relationships, and in the workplace. Teens must learn that your voice is your most powerful tool and no one will understand your needs unless you speak up.

Parents can encourage teens to find their voice, by building their confidence and self-esteem. Knowing that their best is good enough when they try and helping them to understand that no one is perfect, but when they fall, they must get up through perseverance. Also, parents can assist teens to make choices within reason. For example, give them options, allow them to make the decision, and deal with the results of their actions, whether they are good or bad.

Teens can feel empowered by taking the initiative and responsibility to think outside of their selves, such as helping others, getting involved in their community, and supporting worthy causes or issues that have an impact on their world. A key to feeling empowered is taking action. Sometimes, teens have to learn how to go beyond the thought in their head and actively put a plan into motion. Many teens have the desire to be heard and vent when they feel ignored, but are they willing to do the work, show they deserve respect, such as honoring their commitments, maintaining honesty, and having a track record of making sound decisions. Empowerment comes with a great deal of responsibility. We all deserve to be heard.

Until next time,

Jamese Jefferson, MA, QMHP