The Misdiagnoses of Teenagers: Your Child is NOT 'Psychotic'

Psychological diagnoses are provided for children and teenagers in an effort to insure proper treatment and interventions.  However, when psychological assessment instruments are not up to date with the latest research, the treatment is flawed and in many causes extremely harmful to the child or growing teenager.

Many of the diagnoses offered in the DSM-5 are oblivious to the latest research by Dr. Elaine Aron, who has spent much of her life studying Highly Sensitive Persons (HSP) and the Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) trait.  When children and teenagers are highly sensitive, certain behaviors and traits often result.  For example, they are highly intuitive and take on the emotions of those around them.  Needless to say this presents an overwhelming emotional situation, for which most teenagers are not equipped to deal with.  Combine this with childhood family trauma and insecure parental attachments, and you have the formula for extreme mental distress. Consequently, most HSP children and teens find it difficult to focus and retain information, have challenges making friends because they are insightful enough to know what others are 'really' thinking about them, find it difficult to learn in conventional educational settings (which are designed for basic linear processing rather than more advanced global processing), require structure in daily activities, and they are extremely sensitive to touch, smell, lights, temperatures, words and noise.

Unfortunately, and unethically I might add, Highly Sensitive children and teenagers are labelled with multiple cocktails of diagnoses such as ADHD, psychosis, learning disabilities, social avoidance disorders, Asperger's disorder, and the list goes on and on.  With this comes associated combinations of psychotropic medications with horrendous side effects that have repeatedly shown to cause extreme psychological and neurological damage, especially to developing brain systems.

The developmental task in adolescence is to develop an identity. Try and imagine how difficult it is for a highly sensitive teenager to accomplish this task when they are overloaded with feeling the emotions of those around them.  In their families, in their classrooms, and in their sporting activities. This is why it is so important NOT to label misdiagnoses on a teenager during this identity development stage as they will quickly internalize the diagnoses as their identity FOR LIFE. As mental health professionals we take an oath to do no harm, however many of us are doing GREAT HARM without even realizing it.

Many mental health practitioners who have also studied levels of spirituality have come to realize that these HSP children and teenagers are incredibly gifted with such high sensory processing.  Their brains are geared to attain higher levels of consciousness and function in 5-D environments rather than the dense 3-D consciousness that most people live in.  No wonder they feel like the don't fit in! They are here to help us shift into advanced levels of functioning, especially during these chaotic and uncertain pandemic times.

If you or someone you know has experienced the distress and misdiagnoses of a Highly Sensitive young person, consider learning more to help these gifted teenagers.  We offer two virtual self-paced accredited programs that will provide insight.  Our first program is the Certified Integrative Health Coach Training Program that focuses on training holistic mental health coaches to become accredited as Registered Health Coaches (RHC) in mental health.  In addition, our Highly Sensitive Persons Certification Program for Mental Health Professionals is also available and offers 10 CE credits for professionals.  Or learn Effective Tools for Extraordinary Teens.

If you have had an interest in mental health, however do not want to undertake years of university in order to offer your innate desire to help others with mental health distress, now is the time to consider this option.  With the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, additional mental health aid and options is essential to meet the growing demands of distress.  We see this in the drastic increase of violence, suicides and mental anguish.

Please reach out to me if you are interested in finding out more about our unique programs.  I am happy to set up a phone call to chat.  480-684-4476 or contact me at

Blog Post written by:

Dr. Nickerson's professional experience as a psychologist and personal passion for developing the mind-body-spirit connection have fueled her success and devotion to training individuals and organizations to foster whole wellness.

More Articles

Discover the Healing Secrets of Your Nervous System
The Gift of Soul Level Depression
Reducing Medical Errors in the Healthcare Burnout Epidemic
Using AI Brain Scan for Early Detection and Diagnosis of 9 Common Mental Health Issues


The Invisible Emotional Avoidance Epidemic - Part 2
The Invisible Emotional Avoidance Epidemic - Part 1
Exploring Inner Peace: The Interconnection of Mental Health and Spirituality
Why Coaches Should Use Caution When Referring Victims of Domestic Violence (DV), Sexual Assault (SA) or Rape to the Police