Anxiety: My Experience Working with Teenage Girls

“I can’t go to school today.”

“I’m not getting out of bed.”

“I’d rather just read a book and be left alone”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“I can’t handle this.”

“I’m so scared.”

“I don’t know how to talk to people.”

“I feel so alone.”

Working in residential treatment since 2008, I have heard it all. As I’m sure you have as a parent. Precious, talented, smart, funny girls practically crippled by their inability to cope with the outside world. They pull inward. They push others away to protect themselves from all the scary interactions, obligations and expectations of a go-go-go world.

The truth is, living with anxiety is like trying to dig oneself out of a hole. Sometimes the things that these girls have self-taught in order to deal with their anxiety will continue to cripple them socially, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Having anxiety often causes self-isolation and shrinking away from daily changes that seem monumental from a distance. However, the solution to the issue is the opposite of natural inclinations. To overcome anxiety, you simply have to push through it.

Imagine you live in a shack in a vast desert. It’s always so hot. The shack you live in provides you some shelter, but you are alone. You are uncomfortable and scared. Fortunately, you have plenty of water and food. Thus, you can and must make due.

One problem though: You HATE IT! You want to leave and never return. However, you realize that the only way to leave this desert is trekking through it. You do not know how big this desert really is; you have no idea how long it will take you. You have to pack up everything you have ever known in this little shack, and you have to throw it all into a backpack and carry this heavy load as you walk through the desert to a better place. You’ve heard from a friend about this place. It’s happier there, with comfy beds and cool showers. It has people there with open arms waiting to greet you. On the other hand, you aren’t sure if you can make it, and if you do, who’s to say you’d like it any better? You have lived here for so long and you have grown accustomed to it.

One day, a kind passerby who has walked many times through this desert stops by your shack and has given you a map. They have given you a compass. They tell you they will be there waiting for you at the end.

What do you choose? Could you make the trek? Would you trust your friend’s map and compass, and take them on their word that there is something better out there, without having seen it yourself?

Overcoming anxiety is like walking through that desert. That is why I believe the support, love and care of a residential treatment center, like New Haven, is the key to helping those who are lost in a seemingly endless downward spiral. Despite the love and dedication parents give their children, sometimes that isn’t enough. Remember, this is not your fault. These girls need constant attention, love, and challenging that only a residential team of over thirty people can provide. At New Haven, we are her team. We are dedicated to providing the love and time necessary to help your daughter heal.

We provide it all: creative interventions to challenge her, love to support her and hope to fuel her. Your daughter can take the tools she is given at New Haven and learn to cope with her anxiety in a healthy, productive way.

I have seen several hundred precious girls come through New Haven. I have seen the healing that can happen. I believe in our mission to assist our families in awakening within themselves the positive values they need for a happy and successful life, and I am honored to help facilitate a lasting, positive change within each young woman and her family.

To find out more about helping young women overcome anxiety, please contact our admissions department at 888-317-3958 or visit

By: Mari Brickson, Lead Supervisor in the Mother Teresa House