Addressing Core Struggles Helps Emerging Adults Progress in Treatment

Core struggles seem to be the root of many mental health concerns. Laura Viner, PhD, Director of Assessment Center and Director of Research at Yellowbrick explains core struggles to be the “innermost feelings one has about oneself”.  Core struggles can include intense feelings of inadequacy or insufficiency. While emerging and young adults may seek treatment for their outwardly facing mental health concerns like eating disorders or addictions, their core struggles will continue to cause social and emotional problems if left unaddressed.

Common core struggles

Think of core struggles as the heaviest, darkest feelings tucked inside oneself.  They are strong self-beliefs that are not openly communicated with others, yet often surface in aspects of personality and behavior. Core struggles may be repressed feelings, originating after the occurrence of physical or sexual trauma. Core struggles may be the result of childhood bullying or emotional neglect and can be caused by the emotional pain from being continually ignored, left out, or betrayed. Core struggles may involve feeling lonely, isolated, or desperate to fit in. The feelings that one holds deeply are influenced by external factors like family, peers, educators, and colleagues. Core struggles arise when emerging adults do not feel accepted, when they do not feel like their lives matter, or when they do not feel like they belong. It is common for emerging adults to mask their core struggles by abusing substances or by forming other self-destructive patterns.

Finding the source and exploring emotions

In order to provide a positive outcome post-therapeutic treatment, core struggles need to be addressed. However, getting to the root of the problem can be difficult. Since these emotions are often hidden within an individual, it takes a supportive environment and sensitive, trained professionals to bring core struggles to the surface. During a comprehensive intake at The Assessment Center at Yellowbrick, doctors and psychiatrists work towards identifying a patient’s core struggles. This happens by means of collaboration with the patient and may often involve family input, a review of previous medical and mental health records, and consultation with prior medical and mental health professionals. Clinicians aim to develop a meaningful and trustworthy relationship with their patients, so that patients may eventually feel comfortable enough to expose their vulnerabilities.

Once an individual’s core struggles have been identified, clinicians at Yellowbrick design a therapeutic plan which involves exploration of the struggles. During individual psychotherapy, patients are empowered by recognizing their core struggles. By revisiting core struggles throughout the course of treatment, emerging adults have the opportunity to process their innermost feelings and learn how their feelings influence their choices, behaviors, and relationships. When emerging adults address their core struggles, they have the capacity to emotionally move forward, which decreases the likelihood of relapse.

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