Quick Tips for Therapists

Finding the “New Normal” for Teens in a COVID-19 World

By Goali Saedi Bocci, PhD 

Perhaps the buzz phrase in all my therapy sessions with clients surrounds the notion of “the new normal.” With much of my caseload being comprised of teens for whom social interaction is a key facet of their identity, social distancing and quarantine have been particularly challenging for this group. Fears of a “second wave” have only exacerbated the anxiety and discomfort for teens and their families. 

A small but impactful intervention has involved the idea of one novel, active “excursion” or treat per day, which also has the added bonus of getting them off their screens and devices. For example, with many restaurants moving to curbside pickup, a way of both supporting small local businesses and giving teens something to do can involve a weekly trip to pick up a pizza for the family dinner, or picking up baked goods from a local bakery for a weekend breakfast.  

Here’s a sample schedule I have been sharing with teens: 

Monday: Walk the dog! 

Tuesday: Yoga or exercise day! Reward: Coffee or tea from favorite local spot. 

Wednesday: Social distancing walk with a friend. 

Thursday: Walk the dog! 

Friday: Pizza and movie night with family. (Go pick up the pizza!) 

Saturday: Social distancing time in a park or backyard with neighbors or friends. 

Sunday: Spiritual Day! Go for a hike in nature, attend church online, do yoga and meditation. Consider grabbing cinnamon rolls or muffins at a local bakery for a “rejuvenation” day. 

By adding small amounts of structure and simple joys to look forward to every day, teens and their families can thrive in these uncertain times. 

 Goali Saedi Bocci, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice, published author, millennial expert, TEDx speaker, and media personality. She earned a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Notre Dame; and completed her internship at the University of California, Berkeley; followed by a fellowship at Stanford University. Bocci has been a columnist for Psychology Today, writing the Millennial Media blog for nearly a decade, and garnering over two million hits worldwide. She is also a highly sought-after expert for top media outlets, including TIMENewsweek, ABCNews, Chicago TribuneCosmopolitanRefinery29Elle, and Glamour; and has served as a recurring guest on the morning television show AM Northwest. You can find more information about her www.drgoali.com.

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Quick Tips for Therapists