All Kinds of News for March 06, 2019
Dr. Sarah Parlier co-presented on the coming post-millennial "Generation Z". She helped to cover what makes them different, what their motivations are, and how we as a therapeutic community can address their needs.
Trails Momentum Director of Student Development Dr. Sarah Parlier co-presented with Drs. Jennifer Wagstaff and Elizabeth Vincent from Campbell University at the American College Counseling Association conference Feb. 7-10 in San Diego, CA. Their session, "Out With Millennials, In with Generation Z" invited session attendees to consider the key differences that distinguish those born after 1995 from members of older generations in order to more effectively meet their therapeutic needs. Sarah and her colleagues specifically discussed Jeffrey Arnett's often-cited theory of emerging adulthood as well as Jean Twenge's 2017 book iGen and her discussion of slow life history, which posits a natural delay of child development and later demonstrations of young adult independence. Lower birth rates, longer lives, war, and a more challenging economy have all impacted the ways that Americans view childhood and raise their children. As a result, adolescence, which at one time ended in early teen years, now lasts long into the twenties. Teens today report fewer independent behaviors, like going on dates, working for pay, and getting a driver's license. Colleges and universities are encountering students who are accustomed to assurances around their physical and emotional safety and who have limited experiences as independent young adults; furthermore, these students are often not prepared for the expectations of higher education. As a result, counseling centers are seeing a dramatic increase in appointments related to anxiety and depression.
Session attendees considered another significant focus: our newest generation of students' most precious commodity: time. Gen Z students are faced with multiple opportunities to engage with high sensory activities in almost every moment of their day. When Generation Z students choose what to do with their time, they are judicious about getting the most from each experience. Their access to an on-demand, high satisfaction service in many of their day-to-day interactions leads them to expect it in every aspect of their lives, including their therapy sessions. Session attendees discussed ways of meeting students in different physical spaces, like dorms, health centers, even classrooms, in order to accelerate the initial therapy experience and help Gen Z students more quickly recognize the value of working with a counselor.
Dr. Parlier and her colleagues also discussed the significance of Generation Z students' online identities. Those born after 1995 are born after the Internet's ubiquity. They have likely had access to the Internet, gaming, and social media since childhood. As opposed to older generations, Generation Z students across all demographic groups may view their online relationships and their online identities as more important than their offline ones. Session attendees considered this characteristic alongside Gen Z's motivation to make authentic connections with others. Many Generation Z students report a desire to connect more authentically, despite having decreasing experiences forming face-to-face friendships. Presenters suggested that mental health professionals address this need for authentic connections with therapeutic groups centered on topics and activities. Session attendees shared successful groups at their colleges and universities, including Harry Potter groups, Dungeon and Dragons groups, crochet groups, mens' groups, and residential hall groups.
Mental health professionals are likely to see a continued increase in client demand as Generation Z's young adults struggle to demonstrate independence and to launch into adulthood. By working together, college counseling centers, therapeutic treatment programs, and private therapists can support Gen Z clients' journeys towards health and well-being.
About Trails Momentum
Trails Momentum is a therapeutic outdoor-adventure program for young adults seeking support in transitioning to independence. Trails Momentum works with young adults age 18-25 looking to grow and transform in a therapeutically supportive community just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. Our sprawling private campus lends to various adventure sports contributing to a truly life-changing experience.