So She May Thrive: Psychological Flexibility As A Pathway To Flourishing For Teenage Girls
Adolescence is a heightened period of storm and stress due to the many developmental changes taking place during the teen years. For teenage girls, these challenges are often exacerbated by environmental stressors including impossible cultural standards of success, media overuse, and daily harassment by peers that threaten overall well-being. This capstone reviews research in positive psychology that promises to improve teenage girls’ ability to navigate life stressors, and to embrace adolescence as a time of wonder—of curiosity and exploration, passion, novelty-seeking and building new relationships. Psychological flexibility is proposed as a cornerstone of adolescent health and well-being, and its presence may help girls navigate the challenges posed by the adolescent years with greater resilience, connection and courage. Psychological flexibility refers to the ability to connect to the present moment and to change or persist in behaviors that align with deeply held personal values (Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 2012). Although a fluid construct, research suggests that emotion regulation flexibility, mindfulness, self-compassion, positivity, and valued action increase psychological flexibility and its many benefits. Targeted interventions including Mindful Self-Compassion and a modified Acceptance and Commitment Therapy training are discussed as promising strategies to help teenage girls cultivate psychological flexibility as they transition from girls into thriving adults.