Twenty-something and troubled? Therapy can help.

People in their twenties are struggling, I see this almost everywhere. This year brings me even closer to the end of my twenties, and I have been thinking a lot about what a tough decade it is. I remember moments of wondering how I measured up, if I was doing enough, if things were going as well as they “should”. I have watched so many friends and family members struggle with feeling stuck or lost, feeling inadequate next to their peers, in the eyes of their parents, against the dreams they had for themselves.  Those of us in our twenties often want to reach a point where we feel “established”.   Do you feel like you are where you want to be in your life? Are you happy where you are?  Why are the twenties so hard, and what can we do about it?

Individuals in their early to mid-twenties face specific pressures and anxieties. Many feel ambivalent or disappointed about the pressure to pursue college; others feel upset about the college experience being a mismatch from expectations.  Maybe you decided college isn’t for you and are dealing with family strain as a result. Economic pressure can make it challenging to live alone, which works against the intense pressure to meet a particular definition of success many of us in our twenties face. Individuals in their mid-twenties often face internal and external demands for financial stability, a stable relationship, a steady and solid job, that it has commonly been referred to as a “quarter life crisis”.  I have found that people in their mid-20’s can feel a sense of panic when they have thoughts that they are not “where they are supposed to be in life.” Sometimes they feel that everyone around them has their life together and they have spent the past few years not taking things seriously. Other times, people in their mid-20’s have the financial independence, dream job, and relationship they always thought they wanted, and they still aren’t happy. They are not sure what is missing in their life.

If you are feeling broken down, like things aren’t going as you thought they would or should, therapy can help you learn strategies to feel better, to reduce the despair and get in touch with your own wishes for your life. My clients often feel stuck, depressed, and unsure of how they landed where they did.  They can be very self-critical, sometimes even resorting to substance use to get some relief from the inner turmoil they feel.  Many of my clients have seen therapists in the past, typically therapists that were selected by their parents when they were younger. However, clients have shared that there are a number of obstacles that have made it hard for therapy to really work for them. Sometimes clients struggle to connect with therapists that they themselves haven’t chosen, therapy doesn’t always seem to help, and with certain types of therapists it can be difficult to know where to start or what to say, especially when there isn’t a connection. I understand how hopeless this can feel, and how difficult it would be to reconsider therapy after these experiences.. I specialize in helping people find their center and be true to themselves and have seen therapy work to help people claim their lives time and again.  If you are feeling like what you show on the outside is a far distance from how you are feeling on the inside, if you are feeling alone in the sadness and the hurt, the right therapist can help.  There are things you and the right therapist can do to learn more about your values, your goals, and what feels right to you. Learning how to get “unstuck” and feeling more certain about where you are and where you are going is within your reach. Therapy can help you get there.

Alissa Goldberg, LMSW is a licensed social worker and specializes in working with individuals struggling with adolescence, their twenties, and into their thirties. Email Alissa at

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