Popular at school

Being Popular At School: 3 Questions for Teen Girls

Being Popular At School: 3 Questions for Teen Girls

Popular at school

Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

 

Being popular at school, having anxiety about friendships, and uncertainty about the school year are topics that keep coming up with the teen girls I work with. It brings to mind a quote that has been churning in my mind recently. A quote you have likely heard!

““Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”.

 Although some sources credit the saying to Dr. Seuss, there is a disagreement over whom the original author was, with some believing it was actually Bernard Baruch. Regardless of the original authorship, I find the quote to be insightful and relevant to the teen girls I have the honour of working with (and pretty relevant to anyone, really!).

I know friendships and popularity at school are on the minds of teen girls because questions such as  “will I be with my friends?”, “what if no one likes me?”, and “what if I am not popular at school, or what if I am never popular?” are common in the therapy room. These questions shine a light on the underlying human condition to socialise and feel accepted, which, while more acute in the teenage years, is not just a “teenage thing”. I have yet to meet a person who did not long for at least some human connection, to be seen and heard, or to be liked, and similarly, who did not have a fear or at least dislike of rejection.

The relative strength of these factors vary, but in one form or another, are ubiquitous in us humans. Humans are social beings, so it makes a lot of sense why back-to-school fears about friendships and fitting in are so common.

But…just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Note: If anxiety around friendships is common for you, here is a free Anxiety Toolkit that includes 10 exercises and various free videos to help you master it:

Anxiety Toolkit

Being Popular At School: 3 Questions For Teen Girls

For teens that are worried about being popular at school, have anxiety about friendships, or a fear of not being liked, I often ask them a series of questions:

Being Popular At School Question #1: Let’s imagine for a minute that everyone liked you, what kind of world would that be?

 Most teen girls that I talk to conclude that a world like that “would be terrible”. In terms of reasons why, they say that in such a world, a person would always be changing to meet the interests of others and not be true to themselves, or they would have no boundaries or may not be standing up for what they know to be right.

Being Popular At School Question #2: Is there anything more important than being liked?

When given a chance to think about this question, many of the teen girls I work with have identified a number of things more important than being liked.

From the teen girls themselves, here are some of the reasons they commonly share are more important than being liked:

  • Being true to oneself
  • Standing up for what is right
  • Standing up for friends or family
  • Having healthy relationships
  • Being kind

Being Popular At School Question #3: Is it more important for other people to like us, or for us to like (or at least respect) ourselves?

This question is best asked last, because after exploring the previous questions, most teen girls tell me it is more important to be true to who they are and to like themselves rather than have the approval of others.

Usually, at this point in the conversation, the issue of being liked or not doesn’t feel as huge or scary of a problem as at the start.

Are some of those feelings and questions still there? Of course! But the question of being liked or popular becomes less of an identity-defining, terrifying issue.

Our team has also developed 7 questions you can ask yourself to ensure the friendships you have are good ones. You can access them in our blog article here:

Teen Friendships: 7 Questions to Decide If They Are Good Ones

This brings us back to the quote: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”… It’s not that those people who mind “don’t matter”, but that they shouldn’t have the power or influence to dictate who you are or change your sense of worth or morality.

Do you love learning and are super into school? Awesome!

Or do you find joy in video games, anime, or make-up? Amazing!

Or maybe your spark is in sports, music, art, or volunteering? Astounding!

You befriend the new kid at school even though they dress “uncool”? Awe-inspiring.

The reality is that everyone is different, and not everyone is going to click or jive together. And that’s okay. Perhaps instead of trying to be liked, you can find the things that are more important to you and take steps towards those hopes. Hope for you may be respecting and appreciating diversity, both for others and for ourselves. Or, it could be growing in greater self-respect and self-love.

The key to ask yourself is this:

What is so important to you that it doesn’t matter if others mind?

You can access support through our free Anxiety Toolkit (for anyone), or 1:1 sessions with me (Alberta residents only).

1:1 sessions with me include a complimentary 20-minute consultation to ensure we are a good fit. If you have benefits, they are also eligible for reimbursements.

You can book your free consultation here:

Book Your Free Consultation

 

Love,

Jessa Tiemstra

Provisional Psychologist servicing teen girls and young adults.

 

 


Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

Feelings As Visitors: How To Welcome All Feelings Even The “Bad” Ones

  

Learning From Our Feelings 

Ok today we’re writing about tricky feelings, those feelings that are difficult to experience, those that are pleasant, and feelings in general. I want to highlight that our relationship with our feelings is pretty important and if we learn to approach feelings with curiosity rather than resistance and judgement, we may find that we can cope much better. 

​I’ve decided to start by sharing a poem that I find quite profound and helpful in how I experience feelings. I like this poem for many different reasons, but mainly because, for me, it talks about how we can have a relationship with feelings and experience feelings in a way that isn’t scary. If we spend less time trying to avoid or deny a feeling and more time listening and learning about it,  the experience may be easier to have and may teach us something.

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The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,

Feelings Don’t Last That Long

 

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Learning and listening to our feelings may open the door to opportunities, as Rumi said, and the reality is feelings don’t necessarily last as long as we think. Feelings come and go and are constantly changing, but we may tend to perceive them as lasting a long time or not lasting long enough.

I saw a post on social media that shared a picture with two lines. The top line symbolized
How long we think a feeling is going to last.

Beneath it was another line that symbolized
How long a feeling actually lasts.

​What it showed is typically we anticipate that tricky feelings are going to be more intense, last much longer, or be more scary than they actually are. It’s important for me to say that feelings are legitimate and some feelings are very difficult and painful to experience. YES, this is true and this is the human condition. Even those feelings don’t continually happen, we kind of tend to bob in and out of them in the mix of all our other experiences.

So this topic is about how to deal with tricky feelings and feelings that are difficult to have.

​In our society, we are kind of taught to do a couple things with feelings.

One of them is to chase or gather a feeling that we really love. Say for example the feeling of happiness, excitement or joy. We’re always striving to have that feeling and have lots of that feeling, you know like the pursuit of happiness. In this case there is often a scarcity mentality, like there is just never enough of that feel good emotion. We can also become concerned about moments we are not feeling those more positive feelings, sending us on a futile hunt.

Another thing that we’re taught is not let ‘bad feelings’ in or to avoid, deny, or change them. There seems to be messages of shame around experiencing certain emotions that are perceived as negative like anger, sadness, anxiety, boredom, etc.

If we learn to approach feelings with curiosity rather than resistance and judgement, we may find that we can cope much better.

Photo by Canva

If you imagine yourself as a little person inside a house and you think about feelings as visitors or guests, there are some that we openly invite in,

“Oh yes, come on in and take up all the space you need”, feelings like happiness, joy,  peace, or calm.

Then there are other feelings like sadness, pain, or anxiety that we decide “I don’t want to have this feeling” so we slam the door in their face.

Photo by Canva

The thing is these guests, the feelings, don’t just go away like that. They are quite persistent that they have something to share with you, and will just keep trying to find a way to get in. Those feelings end up kind of sticking around a lot longer than they need to, which can cause problems.

Thinking of feelings as guests or visitors, like Rumi wrote about and another book I will share with you, allows us to interact with them in a very curious way instead of being scared or reluctant to experience feelings, even if it’s one we think may not be great to have around.

The book ‘Visiting Feelings’ by Lauren Rubenstein is a great resource. It has beautiful artwork and a poetic tone to the writing. This book invites people to consider what a feeling might look like, sound like, feel like, and takes a curious approach to feelings.

I really wanted you to take a moment to sit with that possibility. Feelings as visitors, as guests.

Temporary. Impermanent. Not forever.

They will not last forever: good, bad, or terrible. I want to invite you to think about the different feelings you experience everyday and approach them with curiosity rather than judgement.

​Consider asking the following questions of your feelings:

What does this feeling want me to know? What does it need right now? What is one thing I can do to learn more about it? Can I journal, draw, talk to someone about it, build it with clay, splatter paint to represent it, blast music that sounds like it?

Box Journaling

 

If you’re onboard with this idea of feelings as visitors or at least onboard with trying it out, I would invite you to try a journaling exercise. There are so many ways to journal and I am going to share one as I was inspired by Carla Sonheim, who shared this in a webinar.

Ok in reviewing my video above, I chuckled because I don’t quite know my left from my right, but rest assured the concept of box journaling is legitimate. I like box journaling because it combines free flowing ideas and creativity, as well as, some structure and idea prompting so that you can come away with an idea or an action to take that might be helpful.

For box journaling you will need a sheet of paper and a black marker (you can use a pen or pencil also). If you have pencil crayons or coloured markers, you can also use those. Start out by drawing a large box on your paper. You will then be dividing the box into 5 sections.

Section one: ​Draw a horizontal line under the top line of the box (creating its own little box within the larger box) and this is where you will put the date and you can add where you were when you journaled.

Section two and three: Underneath the horizontal box create two vertical boxes. These will take about two thirds of the page. The one on the left is the largest and the one on the right is slimmer. The left box is where you will put your free writing. The slimmer panel box on the right is where you will grab ideas from the free write and create a list of themes, ideas, key phrases, action items, etc.

Section four and five: Underneath the section 2/3 boxes you will create two smaller boxes that are about equal in size. They will take up the rest of the space on the paper. The box on the left will be for a drawing. This can be a squiggle, scribble, symbol, stick figure, or any kind of image that helps represent something about your writing or how you are feeling in that moment. The last box on the right is a miscellaneous box. You can continue some free writing here, continue your image, paste a quote, add an affirmation or word that inspires you, etc. You get to decide what goes here.

 

Box journaling can take as much or as little time as you have. If you only have 10 minutes, spend 5 minutes on the free write journaling and the rest in the other sections. If you have a little longer, give yourself at least 5-10 minutes to free write and then a few minutes with each of the other sections.

There’s an idea of what you can do to start to be curious about feelings. Consider for yourself, what are some other things you can do to invite feelings in and learn more about them while they are visiting?

If you found this post helpful, pass it on by emailing a friend or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook- Thanks!


Chantal Côté

5 Practical Ways to Take Control of your Happiness

Chantal Côté (she/her) is a psychologist and teen life coach living in Calgary, Alberta. After over a decade in non-profit and community mental health, Chantal started Pyramid Psychology, a practice dedicated to supporting teens – a population she is constantly amazed by. Chantal is on a mission to help 100,000 teen girls (and their parents) build bulletproof mindsets so they can weather the ups and downs of life. As part of this goal, Chantal has had the privilege of speaking at various events – virtual and live – to support teens and parents.

Outside of this passion, Chantal is often in nature, writing poetry, playing ball hockey and hanging out with her loved ones.

Each week, Chantal writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents and teens she connects with.

If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

4 Ways To Tell If Teen Therapy Is Right For You

Is teen therapy right for your teen?

Your teen is blowing up and locking themselves in their bathroom for hours. You notice their motivation is at 0%, their mood is really low, and they are either telling you about their problems or keeping a tight lid on the struggle.

Photo by wocintechchat on Unsplash.

You are concerned about their body image, self-esteem, friendships, anxiety and negative thoughts.

You are noticing behaviours that are freaking you out… 

Know that a lot of this is normal.

However, normal doesn’t mean easy and it doesn’t mean it can’t change.

If you’re in a hurry, you can catch the four factors in deciding if teen therapy is right for your teen, in this short video from our Founder, Psychologist & Teen Coach Chantal Côté here:

 

Here are four ways to tell if teen therapy is right for you:

1. Teen Therapy Factor #1: Current Supports

Take a look at their natural supports. Who does your teen have in their life that they can open up and talk to? That can be you, another relative, a teacher or a coach –

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

think of adults in their life that are natural supports they may look up to. Also consider people their age, a group of friends, or a club they may be part of; other teens they can talk to, have fun with, etc.If you’ve checked off a few of the people listed above, that’s a really good thing!

If you’re struggling to think of people your teen can trust and feel safe around, that’s a really good sign that teen therapy would be super beneficial.

Two of our team members here at Pyramid Psychology are currently taking on new clients. Alberta, Canada residents can book a free 20-minute session with Chip Bvindi or Jessa Tiemstra here:

 

Book A Free Consultation

 

2. Teen Therapy Factor #2: Concurrent Stressors

Consider what your teen’s current stressors are. Of course, every teen will have some level of stress all the time! But really take a look at things a little deeper. Are there significant changes happening in your teen’s life right now? Think about things like family life, school, friendships, relationships, gender, identity, sexuality,

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

body image, self image in general, etc. Is there something going on in one of these areas that’s adding stress to your teen? Is something making things a little more complicated for them?

If you said ‘yes’ to any of the possible stressors above, this is an indication that teen therapy is a good resource for your teen.

You can book a free consultation with Jessa Tiemstra or Chipo Bvindi here:

Book A Free Consultation

 

3. Teen Therapy Factor #3: How Much The Problem Is Disrupting Daily Functioning

Are the stressors your teen is facing affecting their daily life? Here are three indications that your teen’s daily life is being affected:

  • Your teen struggling to get out of bed in the morning.
  • You hear your teen crying themselves to sleep most nights (or they tell you about it).
  • Your teen is engaging in maladaptive behaviours, like constantly being on their phone or pulling away from reality.

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

If these things are happening regularly for your teen, it is an urgent sign that connecting them with someone else (1:1 therapy) is very important.

If, however, your teen is experiencing these things only from time to time, it may be part of regular stress.

If you’re not sure how often “time to time” is, and how often it would be considered an issue, book a free consultation with Chipo Bvindi or Jessa Tiemstra and we will ensure 1:1 therapy is the best option for your teen:

Book A Free Consultation

 

Teen Therapy Factor #4: Current Coping Strategies

Last, but not least, taking a look at your teen’s coping strategies can help determine if they are needing extra support, or if they already have what they need to handle their stressors independently. Does your teen have activities they like to do that fills their time and lifts their mood when they are struggling? Looking at how connected your teen is to community is helpful here too – are they part of a group or organization they can reach out to, that connects them to others, and makes them feel good + safe? Does your teen have things they turn to in times of stress, like movement or art? Think about how connected your teen is to their emotions – can they name their emotions and name what they need to help? Does your teen take action when they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or depressed? Or

Photo by Gautam Arora on Unplash

do they let their emotions drag them down?

If you read the above paragraph and have listed several coping strategies your teen utilizes on a regular basis, they are likely well on their way to independently handling their stressors!

If you noticed your teen could use some more support in this area, it’s a good idea to reach out to one of our therapists. One of the things Jessa Tiemstra and Chipo Bvindi work to do in their sessions, is discovering what coping skills your teen already possesses, and then build on these skills with personalized strategies.

Book A Free Consultation

 

Here is a little information on the therapists we currently have available to support your teen:

Jessa Tiemstra

Hi there! My name is Jessa.

I am a provisional psychologist working with teens, parents, and young adults in Calgary, Alberta. I am passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and am truly honoured to work in this field.

When I am not working, I have a range of interests that keep me busy. I love animals and have a dog and a cat that both like a lot of attention (both tri-coloured and fluffy!) I also enjoy plants, being outside, cooking, baking, crafty activities, going for walks, and video games.

I love spending time with family and friends but am an introvert at heart so quieter nights at home are good too.

I have called Calgary home for most of my life and love living here. Being a provisional psychologist lets me invest back into a place I am proud to call home.

You can book a free 20-minute call to get to know Jessa here:

Book A Free Consultation

Chipo Bvindi

Photo by Canva

Hello there!

I am a registered social worker with a Bachelor of Social Work with a major in psychology from the university of the Western Cape, and a Master’s in Clinical Social Work specialization with individuals, families, and groups from the University of Calgary.

In my practice, I note the different intersectionalites that come into play, and I have adapted myself to understanding the effects thereof. I pride myself in working from a holistic and integrative approach using trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, and intersectional lenses in rendering services.

I am grounded by embracing my full humanness-being imperfectly perfect. My faith, family and friendships carry me through life and its happenings. I find being in nature very healing and so is savouring moments. When not working, I love to engage in some fitness, going on walks, journaling, catching up on Korean series, city adventures and reading for pleasure. I also believe in allowing my inner child come out sometimes through art, dancing, building sand castles you name it.

You can book a free 20-minute call to get to know Chipo here:

Book A Free Consultation

 

In Conclusion

In summary, there are several factors to consider when looking at teen therapy as a resource for your stressed out teen. To gauge how important reaching out to a therapist is, look at these four areas:

  1. Current supports
  2. Concurrent stressors
  3. How much the problem(s) is disrupting daily functioning
  4. Current coping strategies

 

Remember, consultations with our team are complimentary. Our primary goal as a team is to be a resource for your teen to discover themselves, build their confidence, and develop strategies that will create independence in the future.

You can get started with your free consultation HERE. We also have a complimentary Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls, which is a PDF with 10 different tools you can immediately begin implementing to help with stress. You can download your copy here:

FREE Anxiety Toolkit

4 Ways to Handle Teen Communication

Earlier this month my colleague here at Pyramid Psychology, shared 3 ways to respond to teen behaviours. (If you missed out on her blog, you can read it here: 3 Ways to Respond to Teen Behaviours). One of the things she reminds us of, is that you can’t read your teen’s mind – no matter how much you wish to! In fact, the teenage years may feel reminiscent of the terrible two’s when toddlers are pushing boundaries and “throwing tantrums.”

 

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Here are four ways to navigate teen communication when challenging behaviours arise:

  1.     Approach the conversation when both parties are calm: Take a deep breath and keep an open mind. Remember: behaviour seeks to meet a need.

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  2.     Listen: Be curious about what’s going on for your teen. Allow them to speak without interruption. If they feel judged, criticized, or that something needs to be fixed, or corrected, defences go up and the conversation may shut down or explode. 
  3.     Validate their feelings: Although instinct is to solve their problem or minimise their concerns in hopes of helping them, use empathetic statements to show you understand, for example, “I’m sorry you’re going through this, “That sounds really tough,” “I can see you’re going through a lot right now, “wow, that sounds difficult.”

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  4.     Communicate boundaries: It’s important that when discussing boundaries, they’re clearly stated and an explanation is provided. The DEARMAN skill can be used to help communicate our needs and boundaries while maintaining a healthy relationship. Here is what the acronym stands for:  

Describe the current situation using the facts. Tell your teen what you’re responding to. 

Express your feelings about the situation. Don’t assume your teen can mind read! 

Assert yourself by asking for what you want. 

Reinforce by explaining the positive effects. Avoid blaming or insulting. 

Mindful to keep the focus on your goals and the present rather than past experiences. 

Appear confident and avoid being confrontational. 

Negotiate. Offer and ask for other solutions to the problem. It’s important to work together to have both individuals’ needs met. 

 

Knowing how to best respond in these tricky situations is incredibly helpful, however, the interactions that take place outside of them are important as well. These interactions offer opportunities to both connect and develop important emotion regulation skills. The Gottman Method proposes the idea of an “emotional piggy bank,” which every person has. When your teen is thanked, affirmed, or given time or affection, a “deposit” is made in their emotional piggy bank. However, a negative interaction like a demand, fight, or nagging, takes place, a “withdrawal is made from their emotional bank. The goal is to have more “deposits” or positive interactions than “withdrawals” or negative interactions/demands. You can learn more about this method on our blog: Emotional Bank Account: Your Relationship with Your Teen.

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Regardless of which tools you choose to use, remember that communication is an ongoing process. You will have good days, and bad days. It is also important to provide your teen with outside resources to communicate with, particularly resources that are not emotionally attached to the outcome. Two of my colleagues are currently accepting new clients for 1:1 therapy. You can meet them here:

Jessa Tiemstra

Hi there! My name is Jessa.

I am a provisional psychologist working with teens, parents, and young adults in Calgary, Alberta. I am passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and am truly honoured to work in this field.

When I am not working, I have a range of interests that keep me busy. I love animals and have a dog and a cat that both like a lot of attention (both tri-coloured and fluffy!) I also enjoy plants, being outside, cooking, baking, crafty activities, going for walks, and video games.

I love spending time with family and friends but am an introvert at heart so quieter nights at home are good too.

I have called Calgary home for most of my life and love living here. Being a provisional psychologist lets me invest back into a place I am proud to call home.

You can book a free 20-minute call to get to know Jessa here:

Book a free 20 min call 

Chipo Bvindi

Photo by Canva

Hello there!

I am a registered social worker with a Bachelor of Social Work with a major in psychology from the university of the Western Cape, and a Master’s in Clinical Social Work specialization with individuals, families, and groups from the University of Calgary.

In my practice, I note the different intersectionalites that come into play, and I have adapted myself to understanding the effects thereof. I pride myself in working from a holistic and integrative approach using trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, and intersectional lenses in rendering services.

I am grounded by embracing my full humanness-being imperfectly perfect. My faith, family and friendships carry me through life and its happenings. I find being in nature very healing and so is savouring moments. When not working, I love to engage in some fitness, going on walks, journaling, catching up on Korean series, city adventures and reading for pleasure. I also believe in allowing my inner child come out sometimes through art, dancing, building sand castles you name it.

You can book a free 20-minute call to get to know Chipo here:

Book a free 20 min call

 


 

Hi there! My name is Ally and I am a MA student therapist working with teens, parents, and young adults in Calgary, Alberta. I am passionate about helping others and one of the greatest honours of my life is being able to listen and hold space for other people’s stories. 

 When I am not working, I enjoy listening to music, spending time with family and friends, hiking, and indoor cycling. I love exploring new places with some of my favourites being Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Spain, Iceland, as well as Vancouver Island. 

 Calgary is home, but I will take any opportunity to travel!

Managing Teen Anxiety: High School Graduation

Managing teen anxiety around high school graduation – what an emotional rollercoaster! I remember the hallways were buzzing with nervous excitement, each day more than the last…

I was looking forward to my high school career coming to an end but this was often overshadowed by anxiety surrounding the unknown. Many of my friends seemed so sure of what they were doing, with some of them planning on moving across the country for school. Although I was excited to gain more independence, I also felt a ton of pressure. Every thought seemed to end with a question mark.

This uncertainty and sense of being out of control caused some pretty overwhelming anxiety. Just as uncertainty can lead to anxiety, anxiety can lead to avoidance, and I was a pro at it! I avoided looking up admission requirements and application deadlines because I was worried I wouldn’t have the grades to get it. Unfortunately, this only caused more anxiety over the thought of missing the deadline and panic when realizing I was giving myself less time to get things sorted and submitted.

 

If you’re a teen (or a parent of a teen) and your high school graduation is coming up, I have created some tips I found useful during my own graduation. These are tips I share with teens in therapy with me as well.

 Teen Graduation Anxiety Tip #1 – Embrace Exploration

Career quizzes are not only fun but informative. They can be a great way for you to hone in on your interests and reveal careers related to them. You could even do them with your friends or family for fun!

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There are a lot of quizzes out there, but if you’d like to take one right NOW here is one to get you started: Your Free Career Test

Teen Graduation Anxiety Tip #2 – Examine Your Values

Values reveal what’s important to you, and can provide direction in your life. Understanding and getting to know your values can be another way to help with decision making; Living in alignment with your values helps you to live a more fulfilling life. If you’re not sure where to start, Values Discussion Cards by Therapist Aid is a hands-on exercise you can try!

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Teen Graduation Anxiety Tip #3 – Steer Clear of Avoidance

While it can be scary to look into admission requirements and submission deadlines, knowing the answers can relieve anxiety and prevent it from snowballing. I found a really great article for you that outlines 30 great questions you can ask to really get to know the schools you are looking into. You can read the article by Foothills College in California HERE.

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Teen Graduation Anxiety Tip #4 – Practice Self-Compassion:

For many teens (and even young adults like myself), thoughts may lead towards the negative, while what you’re saying/doing on the outside is more like an Instagram or TikTok reel – bright, shiny, and ‘perfect’.

I wanted to remind you of this because, even though it might not be discussed out loud, many of your peers are also feeling nervousness surrounding the uncertainty of graduation. They just aren’t saying it.

Sometimes, having a third party person to discuss your thoughts with, and provide known tools for anxiety, can be a really helpful addition to your graduation plans. I am available for 1:1 appointments all across Alberta (online) or in-person in Calgary, Alberta. Your parents will need to be involved in the process – they can book a free consultation with me HERE.

 

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Book A Consultation with Ally

 


 

Hi there! My name is Ally and I am a MA student therapist working with teens, parents, and young adults in Calgary, Alberta. I am passionate about helping others and one of the greatest honours of my life is being able to listen and hold space for other people’s stories. 

 When I am not working, I enjoy listening to music, spending time with family and friends, hiking, and indoor cycling. I love exploring new places with some of my favourites being Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Spain, Iceland, as well as Vancouver Island. 

 Calgary is home, but I will take any opportunity to travel!

Planning For The Future After High School Graduation

 

Ahh, future planning for after high school graduation… You know those people who have always known what they wanted to do?

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I am not one of them.

I remember having friends in high school who were so certain about what job they wanted to do and had thought of all the steps to get there – attend university X in city Y, and if that does not work then university A in city B. Plan A had plan B, and plan B had plan C. I admired the passion and certainty. However, I also couldn’t help but wonder if there was something “wrong” with me because I did not have that same level of passion or certainty.

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Everyone’s journey is different, and I have learned that that is a beautiful thing. My journey has taken twists and turns, many of which I could not anticipate, and through a mix of choice, circumstance, and consequence, I have ended up where I am today. With this in mind, here are three tips for teens struggling with planning for after high school graduation:

Planning For After High School Graduation Tip #1:  Let Go of Unhelpful Expectations

Not everyone has that “Ah-ha!” moment or knows their dream job since they were little. There is likely no job that is 100% perfect for you, but rather a list of potential options. With every option, there will be things about the job that you like and things that you don’t. The idea of the “perfect job”, and the expectation that you need to know it at 17 or 18 years old, are beliefs that are likely not serving you well. 

If you are unsure of what direction to take, perhaps a better way to look at planning for after high school graduation is to view it as a treasure map. You don’t know exactly how to get to the treasure, and you may not even know what the treasure is, but there are always steps to take and stones to turnover along the way. Even a “dead-end” can provide you with valuable information and experience!

Planning For After High School Graduation Tip #2: Be Intentional 

Whatever you are considering after high school graduation, it can be helpful to be mindful and try to make your choices with intention. If being mindful is a new skill for you, my colleague here at Pyramid Psychology wrote an article that you may find helpful: Mindfulness for Teens: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

There is no single “right way” to live your life or pursue your dreams, and there are so many ways to learn, grow, experience, and discover more about yourself and the world around you. Life after high school graduation could look like going to university or college right away, but it could also look like spending time working or travelling, taking a gap year (or two), getting hands-on experience, volunteering, or even taking a range of courses to see what interests you.

It is important to recognize that indecision is a decision. Indecision is not inherently right or wrong, but it may lead to discouragement and regret if it is your default state for a long time. It can end up feeling like your life is happening TO you, instead of you being in the drivers seat.

Planning For After High School Graduation Tip #3: Keep Moving Forward

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With so many options and paths available, it can be easy to fall into “analysis paralysis” – dwelling, overthinking, and having thoughts spin and swirl around with no real progress or clarity. 

When this happens, try to narrow your focus, even if it is just by a bit. What interests you, makes you feel alive, or gives a sense of purpose?

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Some of the teens I work with have found it helpful to take interest tests, personality tests, and/or career tests to begin narrowing the scope of options… This is probably the psychology part of me speaking, but I think they are also kinda fun! Here is a list of potential quizzes to try out: The 13 Best Career Tests and Quizzes to Help You Find Your Dream Job.

Whether you know your dream job, have potential ideas, or have no clue at all, I hope this blog has provided encouragement and given you something to think about. I have a variety of tools available to help you through the emotional side of planning for after high school graduation; it can be helpful to learn skills for handling this, and get a new perspective on things. You can book a 1:1 appointment with me through my booking link:

 

Book an Appointment

 

 


Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

Six Ways To Handle Change For Teens

Six Ways To Handle Change For Teens

Although change for teens is inevitable, it often doesn’t feel easy or straightforward to deal with, especially in the moment. Change can be scary because we’re often afraid of the unknown. Uncomfortable thoughts or emotions can come up when we feel like we’re not in control of our lives. With so many changes going on during junior high and high school, it’s important to develop skills that can help during these times.

The following tips can be helpful when dealing with change:

Tip for Dealing with Change #1 – Acknowledge and Validate your Feelings: While it can be uncomfortable to consider difficult emotions, particularly when they’re happening, it’s incredibly helpful to start identifying shifts in our mood/emotions. Know that it’s normal to feel many different and intense emotions when there’s changes going on. If emotions wheel for teens you’re not sure how you’re feeling, using a ‘feeling wheel’ can help you identify your emotions. You can read an article on the benefits of a feeling wheel HERE.

Tip for Dealing with Change #2 – Consider Control: Something I’ve found incredibly useful for myself and teens I’ve supported through change, is to consider control. There’s a ton of useful strategies you can use to figure out what you have control of. Imagine you have a hula hoop around your waist. The space between your body and the hula hoop is what is within your control. These are things like your emotions, your responses, your attitude, your opinions, and your behaviours or responses. Everything outside of the hula hoop are things that you cannot control, such as other people’s beliefs and opinions, and other people’s feelings or what they think. When experiencing change, take the time to consider and focus your attention/energy on the things you have control over.

Tip for Dealing with Change #3 – Maintain Consistency and Routine: After considering control, you can take action on some of these things and one of those areas is your routine or schedule. Changes can impact so many aspects of life, keep your routine or schedule in place, wherever it’s possible. Consistency and routine can help you feel more organized and in control.

Tip for Dealing with Change #4 – Celebrate Wins: Since change isn’t easy, it’s important to praise yourself for successes, no matter the size.

Tip for Dealing with Change #5 – Seek Support: From my own experiences, this step can be a difficult one. Asking for help may make us feel like we aren’t able to handle things on our own or maybe it’s because we don’t want to burden others. When I’m feeling this way, I remind myself that I would always want to know if my family or friends were struggling, so I can offer support in whatever way I can. Taking on overwhelming change(s) can feel far less overwhelming when you have someone beside you (literally or metaphorically).

Tip for Dealing with Change #6 – Recharge your Battery: With change being so stressful, it’s important to take the time to recharge! Have fun with friends or family, listen to your favourite music, or watch a nostalgic movie. You can also practice mindfulness to recharge. ‘Mindfulness for Teens: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly‘ is a blog article you can read for tips on mindfulness.

If you’re a teen experiencing overwhelm or other concerns during these difficult changes, you can book a free consultation with me HERE. Sessions with me are private between you and I. They are an opportunity for you to let go of what’s on your mind, and develop tools to handle hard situations going forward.


 

Hi there! My name is Ally and I am a MA student therapist working with teens, parents, and young adults in Calgary, Alberta. I am passionate about helping others and one of the greatest honours of my life is being able to listen and hold space for other people’s stories. 

When I am not working, I enjoy listening to music, spending time with family and friends, hiking, and indoor cycling. I love exploring new places with some of my favourites being Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Spain, Iceland, as well as Vancouver Island. 

Calgary is home, but I will take any opportunity to travel!

You can learn more about me on Instagram, or book a Free Consultation.

7 Ways to Support Teens Through Change

Change for teens, a guaranteed part of life – and rarely easy. Teens have had to face crazy amounts of change over these past few years. As parents, witnessing this may have resulted in many sleepless nights and you stressing over what they’re doing locked away in their bedroom all that time. 

 In the middle of grade 8, my dad was promoted to a new role at his company, meaning we would have to move from Edmonton to Calgary. As my shy, anxious 14 year old self, with a sense of adventure, my brain was working overtime. Moving houses, cities, leaving my friends, and sports club behind in the middle of a school year was terrifying (and a teeny bit exciting). 

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Whether your teen daughter is changing schools, changing friend groups, undergoing body and brain developments, or adjusting to the ever flip flopping social situations, change is on her radar. Teens can be excellent maskers and may not share with you how they’re feeling. Your daughter may not even know exactly what she’s feeling. Instead, she might constantly distract herself from real life, feel things and not be sure why, and shut down or lash out at the people around her. 

When we first moved, I protested with a food strike to share my disdain of my life feeling like it was turned upside down. I spent many lunch hours hiding in the school bathroom crying. It gave me a little release from some of the confusion, anxiety, and fear I was feeling. 

 One lunch hour the hot tears came before I could make it to the bathroom stall and at that very same moment, a group of the more popular girls walked in. I tried my best to look like I was doing anything but crying, but my mascara streaks and red face betrayed me. My 14 year old self was thinking- 

What could be worse?! 

To my surprise the girls huddled around me and sang “You are my sunshine” until we all burst into awkward laughter. I never became close with that friend group, but that wasn’t the point- some time shortly after that moment, I just kind of knew I was going to be ok.  

Photo by Canva

Even though change isn’t easy, it is often necessary and can even lead to some pretty amazing experiences. Below are 7 ideas to help make a world of difference in your daughter’s life as she steers through teen years full of unknowns.

Change For Teens Tip #1 – Validate her experience by being curious, asking questions, and listening you can offer your daughter a space to share her experience and make sense of what she is thinking and feeling. You might even share a story of your own change and ask how hers is different or similar.

 

Photo by Canva

 

Change For Teens Tip #2 – Plan where you can some change comes at us more suddenly, but even in those circumstances, we can do some planning. Invite your teen to examine the situation to see how she (and maybe you together) can plan for things that might come up.

Change For Teens Tip #3 – Help her hone in on her choices As Jessa (provisional psychologist here at Pyramid Psychology)  talked about in her blog last week How to Handle Change for Teens’, even in the most dire situations, there are always choices that we can make. Finding choices can help your teen have a sense of control when external circumstances are feeling pretty out of control.

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Change For Teens Tip #4 – Support them to form meaningful connections feeling connected to people who get it, who your daughter feels safe with and can trust can ease stress felt from transitions. Nothing like a good dose of empathy to help possibilities blossom. The Happiness Pill program is a unique online group coaching experience (with some 1:1 coaching too!) that was designed to give your daughter a safe space to build these types of meaningful connections. If the idea of seeing your daughter build relationships while working on her own joy lights you up, you can get the details for the program HERE.

Change For Teens Tip #5 – Give yourself some of that support sugar- If your teen is experiencing change, you are feeling it too. Whether it’s her behaviour or your own experience of change, the impacts are felt. Take some time to fill your cup with love and care before you try to pour from an empty cup in support of your teen.

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Change For Teens Tip #6 – Highlight past victories- You can ask your teen daughter about some past changes that she has gone through and how she can use those to help her now. How did she survive or even thrive? What are some things she learned about herself in the process? About others? She may have learned tools to manage change, too!

Change For Teens Tip #7 – Create opportunities for joy and optimismChange is stressful- so it’s important to offer a different landscape once in a while. Coming up with ideas on how to take breaks, have some fun, and do things that bring her joy, can be a great way to manage some of the stress that comes with change. 

Love, 

Chantal 

 


Chantal Côté (she/her) is a psychologist and teen life coach living in Calgary, Alberta. After over a decade in non-profit and community mental health, Chantal started Pyramid Psychology, a practice dedicated to supporting teens – a population she is constantly amazed by. Chantal is on a mission to help 100,000 teen girls (and their parents) build bulletproof mindsets so they can weather the ups and downs of life. As part of this goal, Chantal has had the privilege of speaking at various events – virtual and live – to support teens and parents.

Outside of this passion, Chantal is often in nature, writing poetry, playing ball hockey and hanging out with her loved ones.

Each week, Chantal writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents and teens she connects with.

If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

How To Handle Change For Teens

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The topic for this month at Pyramid Psychology is how to heal and handle change for teens. Significant changes have occurred for most of us in the last few years, many of which we have never experienced before.

A lot of the change has had to do with Covid-19 and all the change that has occurred at the personal, family, and societal levels. But even if Covid-19 was not actually the most significant or meaningful recent change in your life, handling change is important for you as a teen.

If the changes in your life are stopping you from living life the way you normally do, or you are feeling anxious or depressed, you can book a free consultation for 1:1 therapy with me here:

Book a Free Consultation

Here are my top two tips for handling change as a teen:

Change For Teens Tip #1: Acknowledge

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Tip #1 for dealing with change for teens is to acknowledge that the change is happening, as well as all of the associated thoughts and feelings that are coming up as a result. Change is often bittersweet and may include feelings like hopefulness, relief, excitement, and peace, but also anxiety, uncertainty, sadness, and loss. Whatever your experience may be, try to give it room to just be. It is so easy to immediately judge whatever thoughts and feelings may be coming up.

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One judgement I hear a lot from the teens I work with is, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way because other people have it so much worse.” While this may be factually true, this line of thinking isn’t particularly helpful for anybody. Rather, these thoughts serve to add negative judgement and guilt on top of the existing struggle with change. It’s like another tablespoon of salt on top of an already too salty pizza.

Other people can have it worse AND you can still be struggling with your own experience; there does not need to be a competition for “who has it the worst”. Giving room for your own experience may actually help you support those around you who may be struggling. This is similar to the idea of filling your own cup before you can pour out to others. Acknowledging your experience does not mean that all the thoughts and feelings that come up are true, but it does give you the choice to be curious about them and make better-informed decisions.

Photo by Canva

Change For Teens Tip #2: The Boundary of Control

An idea I often introduce in my sessions is the boundary of control, which encourages teens to think about all the things that they can control or influence in a situation and all the things that they can not. In getting clear about this distinction, you can redirect your focus and energy into those things that you can do. Examples of things you can control when it comes to change, include your own words, actions, boundaries, beliefs, and self-care. In contrast, examples of things that you cannot control include the behaviours and words of others, what others may think, and the priorities of other people.

As an activity or point of reflection for yourself, think about what factors are inside of and outside of your control when it comes to Covid restrictions in Alberta being loosened. You can draw a circle and create a photo like the one below to add to this exercise:

Website: Laurahutchingstherapy.co.uk

Whatever change you may be facing, remember to acknowledge your experience, be curious and non-judgmental, and invest your energy into those things that you can control or influence. I believe in you!

Sometimes when you acknowledge what’s going on, you may realize that the emotions you are experiencing are a lot to handle. It’s perfectly normal to need an outside perspective or safe person to speak to. I specialize in supporting teens like you (through therapy) to navigate change in a positive way that builds ok your confidence. I would love to meet you. You can book a free consultation with me on our website:

Book a Free Consultation

 


Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

Perfectionism – 5 Questions To Ask Your Teen

Perfectionism

What is this thing anyway?

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The research defines perfectionism in a variety of ways. Without diving into the substantial research that exists on the topic, here are two perspectives on perfectionism, with links for further research.

Some perspectives view perfectionism as being a personality trait –  People with perfectionism have a tendency to be more conscientious and also score higher in neuroticism. (Neuroticism is a fancy word in the psychological literature that essentially describes a person’s tendency to experience negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, and self-doubt.)

Other perspectives view perfectionism as a combination of beliefs and behaviours

No matter how you define it, perfectionism seems to be a complex trait that consists of a dynamic mix of genetics, personality, beliefs, thoughts, and behaviours.

In addition to what perfectionism is, the focus of perfectionism can differ. You can read about three different types HERE.

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Most often though, perfectionism is talked about in a way that is directed inward. Your teen can set high expectations for themselves across contexts such as school, sports, hobbies, performances, or relationships. Having high self-expectations can come from a place of internal motivation to succeed but can also come from pressure from others or from societal expectations. In the former, your teen is running toward a goal, whereas in the latter, they are running away from a fear of failure or judgement.

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Perfectionism can also be directed outward and can be seen as rigid, high standards your teen places on others OR they are having placed on them. In this other-oriented perfectionism, there is an expectation for others to be perfect (or close to!) and subsequent negative judgments when they are not.

So, what do I do with this information?

Knowing the underlying factors influencing perfectionism can help you support your teen, or maybe even yourself – knowledge is power! Consider the following prompts for self-reflection or in conversation with your teen:

  • Where are the perfectionist tendencies coming from?
  • Are they tied to my genetics or personality traits, or have I picked up some perfectionist tendencies from somewhere else?

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  • Is my perfectionism directed at myself or others?

o   How would I like to be treated?

o   Where does the idea of compassion fit into my strivings for perfection?

  • What is the root of my perfectionism – am I striving toward something I genuinely care about or am I running away from the potential of judgement, embarrassment, or sense of failure?
  • When I “fail”, what am I telling myself? Are these thoughts true or kind?
  •  Since being perfect is impossible (we are human after all), what is a more realistic and helpful value to live by?

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If you are struggling with perfectionism yourself, our team at Pyramid Psychology compiled our knowledge and wrote a blog specifically for you: Why Trying To Be A Perfect Parent Isn’t Serving You.

If you’re watching your teen struggle with perfectionism, Chantal Cote – psychologist, teen coach and Founder of Pyramid Psychology – wrote a blog article with tips to help your daughter through it: 3 Ways To Help Your Daughter Stop Perfectionist Thinking.

 

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 Perfectionism is often linked to feelings of anxiety or depression, particularly in teen girls who are already prone to these emotions. We have developed a toolkit with 10 tools to help you build resilience for your daughter. You can download your free copy here:

 

Free Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls


Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.