Part Two: Therapy for First-Generation American Teens

November 26, 2023

For first-generation American teens, therapy is a crucial support system. At The Wise Family, we understand the unique blend of cultural and family challenges they face. Through therapy, we aim to help them navigate these complexities, fostering resilience, self-discovery, and stronger family bonds. Our team of therapists is committed to providing a supportive space for these teens to thrive emotionally and culturally.

Miguel Alcantara, Resident in Counseling

Being first-generation is an experience I live every day. The experience is special to all who are first-generation, but there are some overlapping themes. Some of the biggest hurdles that immigrant families have to overcome are language barriers, and navigating a new society, city, and community. A lot of the time, the first-generation teen is caught in the middle between two cultures: the culture they are born into, and the culture they are adopting.

Providing a therapeutic space that acknowledges the experience of a first-generation teen allows them to be seen and feel like they can be who they want to be. While in that space, providing them with resources that are aligned with their experience makes therapy relatable.

Katie Thompson, Supervisee in Clinical Social Work

Whenever a client steps into the space, no matter what they are carrying with them that day, I always want them to have an hour where they can let it all go, be themselves, and leave feeling lighter. Therapy is a wonderful way for first-generation teens to find support as they navigate challenging social, cultural, and institutional dynamics and experiences. In therapy, they have an hour to be themselves and lean on someone outside of their friends and family.

Deedra Everett, Supervisee in Clinical Social Work

First-generation teens in the US encounter unique challenges when beginning therapy. Building a strong therapeutic relationship requires a deep understanding of the client’s cultural background, traditions, and values that shape their world. Conducting this research is essential, as is being transparent about what the therapist doesn’t know. Engaging clients to share the significance they find in their culture is a way to connect and avoid making assumptions that all individuals within a group share the same experiences and beliefs.

It’s crucial to recognize that many first-generation teens have strong family bonds, which can be a source of support and structure. However, this can also lead to stress and a sense of feeling different as teens navigate peer relationships with less closely knit families and fewer family obligations.

And it’s vital to acknowledge that the mental health stigma varies among different cultures. Assuring teens from diverse backgrounds that their feelings and experiences are valid can encourage them to openly discuss their mental health struggles in therapy.

Ready to start your therapeutic journey? Send us a message. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Until next time, Be Wise!