Ask Bonnie: Building Life’s Emotional Foundation – September 3, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Well it’s that time of year again. Many young people are leaving home and setting off on their own for college. It’s a scary and exciting time for everyone involved. Parents are afraid about whether or not their children will be OK. They hope they will be happy, have everything they need, and take good care of themselves. The college bound youth are excited about the new adventures that await them, but are also feeling a little sad to leave their friends and family. For both the parents and students, there is a mixture of fear, anxiety, and excitement about the imminent college experience.

While going through all these emotions, parents must have faith that their children will be fine. They can follow the college recommendations and send their kids off with everything they will need. Words of wisdom and guidance can be shared. The parents can make sure their young ones know they have their unconditional love and support. But when it’s all said and done, they just have to have faith.

For the students, this is an exciting and adventurous time. It is a time to meet new people and learn new things. It is a time to have interesting life experiences and start to explore the possibilities that are available and that await them in life. Becoming involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, special interest, and social or political issues will enhance their educational and life experience.

Over the past years, their parents have helped them build the foundation for their lives. But now the time has come for these students to branch out and begin to independently construct the framework for their own life. If these young adults put in the time and effort necessary to build a strong framework, it will help lead to a more secure and stable future. Therefore, this is an important time for them to be wise, make good choices, work hard, and take good care of their bodies and their minds.

For some students, disconnections, conflicts, and struggles in their childhood have left their foundations a little shaky. It’s more challenging to build a strong framework for life on a shaky foundation. These students may be drawn to unhealthy relationships, experience bouts with depression, abuse drugs and/or alcohol, feel low self esteem, and/or be overwhelmed by anxiety. For those who have a shaky foundation this is a good time to start work on repairing it. Repairing their foundation will take effort, education, reflection, insight, and maybe even therapy.

For students who want to see a therapist to work on the issues that are coming up for them, help may be found at your college’s counseling center. Moreover, many local therapists can also be located by searching the web, and here in Humboldt County most of our local therapists are listed on the North Coast Association of Mental Health Professionals website at On the NCAMHP website, the right therapist can be found using filters that identify therapists who specialize in treating specific populations, utilize different approaches to therapy, where they are located, and by the types of insurance or funding they accept.

Bonnie Carroll is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a counseling practice in McKinleyville. Contact her directly at

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