A common scenario that happens with my introverted teen clients:
She walks into my office, eyes downcast. I say hello and get a barely audible hello back.
The anxiety surrounds her like a shield. She looks awkwardly around the room, unsure where to sit.
I let her know she can sit wherever she likes to help her make a decision, and for her to know there isn’t a ‘wrong’ place to sit.
I ask her how she feels about coming to counselling and she replies that “it’s fine” but doesn’t offer anything else.
By her response, I know that I will be doing most of the talking, and that’s okay. Most introverts need a period of time to warm up before they can open up. So I’ll make space for that.
I gently let her know that I assume no one really wants to be here, that counselling can be a hard thing to do.
And how there is a weirdness talking to a stranger about really personal issues, so we’ll go slow and she only needs to share what is comfortable.
As we move through the intake, with me asking questions about school, friends, family, and activities she likes to do, I offer insight into introversion so she gets a sense that I understand her world.
The more she can see that I understand her world, the more she opens up.
Usually, by the end of the session, it has become more of a conversation instead of me asking questions and her giving short answers.
I’m always excited when this happens, as this is what creates safety to move forward to do the difficult work.
The difficult work of talking about loneliness.
The difficult work of talking about failed friendships.
The difficult work of talking about feeling like she doesn’t really belong.
The difficult work of talking about anxiety.
I have so much respect for my teen clients who can do this difficult work, and admire their parents who can see the struggles and want to help.
We need to feel safe in order to go to the harder places. If your introverted teen is really struggling, getting help is so important.