Empowering Adolescent Girls: A Conversation with Psychologist and Author Dr. Lisa Damour

On a gorgeous sunny winter day in L.A. in January 2020, I had an opportunity, as an independent school learning specialist of middle and high school girls, to have a one-on-one visit with Dr. Lisa Damour.

Dr. Damour is a psychologist who has focused her passion and life’s work on the mental health and lives of teenage girls and women. Dr. Damour is a New York Times bestseller for Untangled (2016) and Under Pressure (2019), books I strongly recommend that every parent and grandparent add to their library. I have re-read many times as a parent of two, a mother of a daughter, and a purpose-driven educator. She is known for her compassion and education for parents during this pivotal time in parenthood in adolescent development, raising girls who are confident and capable of emerging into adulthood in a modern era.

I have been blessed to have met incredible humans who are just as passionate as me and stay engaged with research, educational trends, and best practices with a student-centered approach. I had limited time to share with Dr. Damour and had many more questions rather than exciting conversation points to soak up her wisdom, as she is the expert in the work I do every day.

However, in a meeting with her, I realized, for the first time, that I had many answers to my own questions; I was still searching for evidence that maybe I was missing something. We had already witnessed increased anxiety, sleep debt, low frustration tolerance, and uneven emotional dysregulation in most students, with parents shifting their priorities on what it means for their child to be “successful.” The steep shift in adolescent presentation and parental partnership from many years prior had a sense of overwhelming sadness and a lack of resilience, turning to a new level of learned helplessness from year to year. This happened before the global pandemic when schools were locked down for more than a year in the Los Angeles area, and educators became educational first responders.

Nearly three years later, we now view teens in a different light, and the Class of 2024 began their high school career with Middle School interrupted by virtual learning coupled with a long lockdown. Juniors are navigating this spring, excited to embark on their path to college as they learn to take ownership of their lives.

While I was zooming in from my kitchen as a learning specialist and a new distant-learning-remote educator, I would recall Dr. Damour in my office with the few words she had left for me on that January day in my school office in L.A. We did not have time for many conversations in that meeting, but it was a time for connection. She was kind in highlighting my best efforts as a learning specialist and pointed to me that I was also a case manager for mental health, as learning profiles go hand-in-hand. Her acknowledgment of the student-led programs that I had created in my career for the school (PAWS Peer Academic Wellness Support and My Archer SMARTS) to support student wellness, empowerment, and growth was a reminder that I was doing more than something and, most importantly, positively contributing to support the lives of other. She encouraged me to continue and said that my showing up every day is my contribution.

I am thrilled to share that Dr. Damour is launching her next book this month, and it is receiving valuable praise for bringing awareness to the lives of teens and what they need to thrive. I am beyond excited to add this to my library list and to read soon, released on February 21, 2023, The Emotional Lives of Teenagers: Raising Connected, Capable, and Compassionate Adolescents.

Publishing February 2023

“The Emotional Lives of Teenagers is written as clearly, usefully, and warmly as anything I’ve read about the psychology of adolescence. Lisa Damour explains why intense feelings—including negative ones—are a key part of teenage development, and how we can help young people understand, and most importantly, embrace the full spectrum of human emotion. I give it my highest recommendation!”

Angela Duckworth, author of Grit and Co-Founder of Character Lab



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