Teenager Happiness and Well-Being
On this episode of Prepped & Polished Radio, Alexis Avila interviews David Poles, founder of Newton Counseling Center in Newton Center, Massachusetts. David talks about the struggles adolescents face today, and discusses some of the ways in which teens can find happiness and peace during those turbulent adolescent years.

Tutoring and Test Preparation

Dennis Poles is a Massachusetts Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor.

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Announcer: Recorded live.Alexis: Hello, and thanks for joining us for the Prepped and Polished
Radio Show. I’m you’re host, Alexis Avila, licensed guidance
counselor, private tutor, and founder of Prepped and Polished,
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Joining our show today is David Poles. David it the founder of
Newton Counseling Center in Newton Center, Massachusetts, where
he helps other grows to maximize their full potential. David is
a licensed mental health counselor, certified rehabilitation
counselor, and a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.

Since 1995, David has committed his professional life to assisting
clients in becoming more successful. One of David’s specialties
is helping late-age adolescent males learn how to reduce painful
emotions while staying sober.

We are delighted to have David on our show. He is going to share with
us about what’s going on today with teens, give us some tips on
how teenagers can stay sober, stay happy, especially through
those turbulent adolescent years.

Now, before we start, I just want to make sure our listeners have our
contact info. Our e-mail address is
radio@preppedandpolished.com. If you would like to submit a
question at any time, you can use that e-mail address. Often
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Okay, David, are you on the line?

David: Yes, I am. Good morning.

Alexis: Good morning, good morning. Thank you so much for joining us.
How are you doing today?

David: Good. Thank you, Alexis, for having me.

Alexis: Good, good. So, tell me something. Newton seems to be a pretty
safe, happening town. Do you actually have a lot of teenagers in
Newton who are actually dealing with anger issues.

David: Well, actually, yes. There is a large amount of drug use that
takes place in the suburbs, and Newton certainly isn’t exempt
from that. And unmanageable emotions usually go with drug use,
depression, anger, anxiety, so unfortunately, yes, that is part
of the landscape of probably most affluent communities. It
doesn’t discriminate, drug use, and anger can certainly go with

Alexis: That’s really interesting, because it seems like the stigma
with the drug use is, you know, we hear about it in the inner
cities, but to hear that it goes over to the suburbs is

David: Oh, absolutely.

Alexis: So, David, can you start out a little bit by telling us about
what is Newton Counseling Center, and what motivated you to
start your own practice.

David: Sure. It’s a one person, one man operation. I’m the owner, and
I have one employee, that’s myself, and I’ve been interested in
owning my own business since going to graduate school at UMass
Boston when I started there in 1998. I had thought about
private practice. I think many of us getting into this field of
psychology aspire to that, and then we get experience from
working at various locations, working for somebody. So, that has
always been an interest of mine since going to graduate school.

I first worked in the field of Social Services in 1995 after I got my
undergraduate degree. I worked for a DYS facility on Cape Cod
at an Upward Bound program in Brewster, so that exposed me to
working with adolescents, and I’ve worked at a variety of
locations. I’ve worked at a homeless shelter for men, I’ve
worked at a substance abuse treatment program at a hospital, but
in terms of wanting to work for myself, I think that is
something many of us aspire to when we are in graduate school,
and not all of us do. It’s a different skill set, certainly,
learning how to be a business person versus just providing the
services, and it’s excited.

Alexis: Absolutely. Yes, definitely. I had a chance actually in the
last couple of months to see your space, and it’s just a
beautiful space, and I’m sure your patients love opening up to
you there.

David: They certainly seem pretty happy there. It’s MBTA accessible
and it’s accessible for clients with disabilities. I had one
gentleman who used a wheelchair and he was able to get in and
out of there pretty easily.

Alexis: That’s great. That’s always helpful. So, I just wanted to pick
your brain a little bit about teens. Now, is helping teenage
males to overcome anger and to stay sober, is it as stressful a
task as I think it is. Because, I don’t think I could do it
myself, so I commend you. How do you help teenagers with their

David: Sure, well it’s certainly challenging, but it’s not impossible.
But, I try not to operate in a vacuum. I stress the importance
of having parental assistance as well, because I think part of
the job is giving them education and support so that they can
guide their clients. If it’s pertaining to substance abuse,
certainly I see a lot of enabling, so part of my job is to
educate them. As far as working with the clients, no, it’s
challenging but it’s rewarding.

Alexis: Definitely.

David: Did that answer your question?

Alexis: Yeah, absolutely it sure did. Now, I’m sure you’ve seen the
problems teenagers deal with evolve over the years, especially
since you started in the early 2000s. I mean, at least I’ve
observed that teenagers are a lot of different from when I was a
teen. Now, have you seen a change in teens over the past 10
years? I mean, are the problems they face today the same, or
are they different?

David: Well, that’s a good question Alexis. I was thinking about that.
I even went back to 1995, when I first entered the field of
social services, and I thought about the issues that teens dealt
with back then versus now, and there are a lot of similarities.
Drug use certainly is still an issue, peer pressure, conflicts
with parents, adolescents being rebellious, hormonal changes,
that is still the same.

Alexis: Right, right.

David: Now, there are different types of drug available.

Alexis: Really?

David: Well, when I was working in 1995, with the population I worked
with, there wasn’t as much focus on opiates as there is now.
There’s pretty wide-spread usage of various opiates like
Oxycontin and Percocet and heroin, so I don’t remember seeing
that as much. I’d say also similarly definitely a lot of
problems can be traced back to the home, in terms of parenting.
Not to blame anybody, but parents certainly have a major role in
terms of how things are going with the child.

Alexis: Right.

David: So, that’s the good news, too. They can be very influential,
they can set better boundaries with adolescents, and through
education, that certainly can take place. As far as differences,
obviously there are more in terms of technology that is out
there, Facebook and Twitter and texting, things like that. That
certainly wasn’t around back then.

Alexis: And podcasts.

David: And podcasts, like this, right! And maybe, more pressure too
with the economy. I think there is a lot of pressure on kids now
from their parents in order to help them get into good schools,
more of a focus on grades and more than ever it is so important
to think about one’s future with the economy and whatnot, so
that’s probably a big difference too, if we are talking about
changes between then and now.

Alexis: Definitely, definitely. Do you, just a quick follow-up, would
like one of your suggestions to a student who is just kind of
maybe struggling with anger and is kind of subjected to the
Facebook, Twitter, is one of your suggestions to him maybe to
put that aside and allocate some time away from these
technological mediums?

David: Sure, if that is a trigger for the person’s anger. I have one
client right now who is a pretty temperamental guy. He is in his
early 20s, but one of the things that he does historically when
he has gotten angry, is he’s done a lot venting via Facebook,
and it’s gotten to the point where it can be abusive towards
others. So, that is something that he should not be doing. I
have some tips here, in terms of how an adolescent can manager
his or her anger. I can get into those if you want.

Alexis: Oh yeah, yeah, let’s do that in a little bit.

David: Okay, sure.

Alexis: Actually, I don’t really know how to phrase this question, but
we do have a guest on this show who texted us a couple fragments
of a question, so I’m going to try to piece-meal these together.

David: All right.

Alexis: Guest #3 on our show made a comment that some people go through
adolescence, from childhood to adulthood in one day. Have you
witnessed this. So, I don’t know if that’s an answerable
question. Are kids growing up fast now, I guess is the

David: Oh, well I think so, in some ways they are. Kids, adolescents,
they are very bright, they are exposed to more now than I ever
was at that age. They are bright, they are more prepared for
college, more exposed to the good and bad in the media. So, in
some ways, yes, they do grow up a lot sooner, sure.

Alexis: Wow.

David: That can be a good thing. It’s a double edged sword. It depends
on the upbringing, too. Like, a child in an abuse upbringing or
where parents are always fighting, they are forced to grow up in
some ways that aren’t healthy, and they are exposed to substance
abuse or mental illness, or domestic violence. They are forced
to grow up in a hurry and a lot of it all goes back to the
parents and how the kids are raised. So, yes, in some ways that
is true, sure.

Alexis: Yes. That really resonates. It makes a lot of sense. David,
what are some general tips that you can offer teenagers that are
trying to stay happy, stay grounded through those turbulent,
confusing, adolescent years. I don’t know about you, but I wish
I had some tips through my adolescent years. It’s a confusing
time. But, what do you tend to do? What are some tips that you
can give teens?

David: Sure. Well, it’s so important for teens to have someone to talk
to, ideally the parents. For example, maybe finding a time that
the teen and his or her parents can be comfortable and relaxed
together, make sure that there’s no distraction that the two of
them can talk. That is certainly one tip for maybe improving the
relationship with a teen’s parents. Let’s see, it’s important
to have healthy friendships, knowing who it is that you hang out
with, having hobbies, doing what you want, being passionate,
having goals, sports. Those are certainly ways to improve one’s
happiness as a teen.

Alexis: Let me just ask you a quick question. What if the student is
really not athletic? Maybe he is athletic but he really doesn’t
want to get up at 7:00 AM on Sunday to go to those football
practices, because you know with athletics you have to be very
committed. Are there other opportunities for some of these
students to stay motivated and not have to do a varsity sport

David: Sure. I have one client. I’ve worked with him since he was a
teen and one of the things he got into was band, music, he got
involved in that. Nowadays, schools are offering a variety of
clubs that someone can join, so I don’t think you are just
limited to sports.

Alexis: Right.

David: I think a lot of it…I don’t mean to be repetitive, but I
think the parents can be very influential, too. Sometimes
parents can be very judgmental and really try to force things on
a teen. So, I think if the parents are cultivating a liberal and
open-minded perspective as far as whatever it is the teen wants
to do, assuming it’s healthy, then I think that should be the
premise of allowing the teen to want to explore some different

Alexis: Absolutely.

David: It could be reading, it could be music, it doesn’t have to be

Alexis: That’s really interesting. That’s enlightening. Well, thank you
very much, David. That was very helpful, and that wraps up our
show for today, with David Poles, Newton Counseling Center.

Now, please visit Newtoncounselingcenter.com to learn more about
David’s practice, and while you are there, I highly encourage
you to ask David to add you as a subscriber to his informative
and inspirational newsletters. I get them myself about once or
twice a month, and I tell you, he gives you tips on how to stay
happy for both teenagers and adults, and it’s very encouraging.
I really appreciate those newsletters, David.

David: Thank you, Alexis. I appreciate you taking the time to have me
on your show.

Alexis: Sure, any time. Thank you so much. Thank you for joining us on
the Prepped and Polished Radio Show.

How have the problems teenagers face today changed over the past decade? Care to share some of your advice/tips for keeping teenagers safe and happy in today’s fast-paced society?

Post your tips/comments below.

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