The statistics around mental health and young women in America are alarming:
7 out of 10 high school girls struggle with low self-esteem.
30% of high school girls experience anxiety.
Depression is diagnosed in girls at twice the rate of boys.
Suicide rates have doubled in recent years, reaching a 40-year high.
80% of girls who would benefit from psychological services do not receive any care.
Dr. Lauren Hazzouri, a licensed psychologist and the founder of NOT THERAPY (interactive, community-building “workouts” for girls and women) is on a mission to destigmatize mental health and create healthier minds for current and future generations.
Based in Pennsylvania, Dr. Lauren has spent the past decade empowering young women by bringing her radical method to the most relevant platforms for girls, such as Gurls Talk, Girlboss, Glol Montreal, Her Campus, and All Women Project, to name just a few.
Dr. Lauren provides Gen Z teen girls with useful advice from evidence-based research. Informed by her own personal experiences, she uses a relatable tone the way Sassy Magazine editors did for Gen X in the 1990’s. For example, some recent NOT THERAPY headlines include: “OCD is a Wicked Inner Bitch,” “Heads Up: FOMO is for Real,” and “#DoThisThing: The Rules or Sexting.” The main takeaway from her writings and public speaking engagements is the empowering message: “Young women are not the problem. They are the solution.”
Dr. Lauren Knows Exactly How It Feels
Her path to this life-changing role began 10 years ago when she opened her private practice. Regardless of her client’s specific issue or background, Dr. Lauren began each session with the same two questions: “How was your week?” and “How did it feel?”
Early on in her career she realized that young girls were exhibiting similar self-destructive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that she herself had experienced years earlier. She sought to understand why this was happening. She immersed herself in research about self-esteem, and, as she explains, “I found that social norms significantly impact self-esteem and the way girls and women think, feel, and behave.” Even though Dr. Lauren is a Gen Xer, the societal expectations for Gen Z teens have not changed much at all since she grew up.
From this research, the innovator created her groundbreaking NOT THERAPY lifestyle program for teen girls. It is crucial to note that Dr. Lauren named it “NOT THERAPY” because the program was not designed to replace therapy. She states, simply, “Not every girl needs therapy, but every girl needs this.”
Why Every Girl Needs NOT THERAPY
So, what is “this” exactly? NOT THERAPY is a curriculum that allows girls to more clearly view the aspects of society that contribute to their mental health concerns, manage the symptoms they experience, and emerge with the ability to care for themselves and connect with others in a meaningful way. “My POV is that if girls learn about the root issues of the problems they face, they’ll stop identifying with the problem,” she says. “Using the evidence-based education I offer, they’ll begin to see how they are the solution and they’ll learn how to stand in their power, together.”
Determined to bring the NOT THERAPY lifestyle to as many young women as possible, Dr. Lauren launched her site, NotTherapy.us, explaining, “I offer supportive information to help girls — free of charge — with weekly worksheets in three content areas: Self and Society, Mood Anxiety Depression (MAD), and Relationships.”
The Gen X-Gen Z Connection
I had the honor of observing Dr. Lauren in action with a group of teens. Her style is honest, authentic, and she is not afraid to get vulnerable. It was apparent that she truly values and respects young people and their experiences. As a result, within five minutes of meeting the group, she earned their trust.
But teens can be so jaded and critical, right? So how, exactly, does Dr. Lauren get through to them? First of all, Dr. Lauren disagrees with that characterization: “I don’t see them as jaded and critical, I see them as cautious… they need to be cautious with all the information they have coming in on the daily. They are awesome at teasing through bullshit — that’s a learned act of survival for these kids.” She believes her approach resonates with them over other groups. “With my generation, Gen X, I’m not “serious” enough. For older millennials, I’m not “cool” enough. But for Gen Z, all they require me to be is me. And over the past four decades I’ve gotten pretty good at being me,” she says with a smile. “They respect that and I respect them; they can feel that.”
If you want to see her in action, Dr. Lauren will be speaking on the main stage at the Girlboss Rally on June 29th-30th in Los Angeles!
Sari Beth Rosenberg is a writer and educator based in New York City. Her most recent media appearances include TheSkimm’s “Back To School” 2018 GOTV series and Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum.” For Women’s History Month 2019, the New York City Department of Education recognized her as one of the #DOESHEroes. Last year, she wrote the daily women’s history #SheDidThat series for A+E/Lifetime.