Hope For Parents With Struggling Teens

New Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis

July 28, 2023 Brandon Joffe, LCSW
Hope For Parents With Struggling Teens
New Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis
Show Notes

Welcome back to Hope for Parents with Struggling Teens. 

Today we’re joined once again by Brittany Johns, LMFT to talk about some recent trends in the mental health world and a few of the dynamics we’ve been seeing recently in many families of struggling teens.

We address some new diagnostic terms that are growing in popularity, as well as a couple of phrases that aren’t actually real diagnoses at all.

First, we address the term “school avoidant.” Many of our listeners will draw different conclusions on how helpful this phrase is or isn’t. I talk about the potential downside of labeling common behaviors that fall within the middle of the bell curve of common teen issues as disorders or terms that sound like diagnoses. 

I share a little bit about my own personal experience with ADHD, and how it’s still important to encourage teens to lean into personal responsibility as they learn how to work hard in school and develop tools for success, wherever they find themselves on the list of learning challenges and possible cognitive deficits. 

Next, Brittany and I talk about the importance of walking alongside a teen when they experience failure, and how that looks very different than rescuing or protecting them from potential failures. We look at troubleshooting together with your child, helping them process failure as part of living, and reframing the adverse experience as a learning opportunity. 

Then, we discuss some common traps that parents tend to fall into when their teen is struggling. These include enabling, excusing, fudging on boundaries, and failing to grieve unmet expectations in order to accept the season they find their family in.

We address video game use and addiction, and whether or not it’s accurate or helpful to call the behavior self-medicating. Brittany explains the appeal of predictability in games versus the unknown outcomes of taking real-life risks.

We talk about the modern medical landscape we find ourselves in, and how many health insurance companies’ emphases on getting a diagnosis right away can pose challenges for therapists. I also explain the possibility of incorrect diagnoses being made to move through a system lacking nuance for less common cases. 

I hope today’s episode encourages you to think about new ways you can walk alongside your teen through the normal failures of life, and live free from the common traps of over-diagnoses, excuses, and unnecessary complications in the healing process of your family.