If you’ve been following us for a while, you probably already know that everything Lucero creates – from new features in the app to our social posts – is a collaboration between licensed clinical therapists and a team of youth advisors. Hands down, we believe that the best way to address the current youth mental health crisis is by building solutions with the input of tweens and teens themselves.
You also probably know that we’re big on self-discovery. That’s because developmental psychologists say that establishing a unique, individual identity is what adolescence is all about. Research shows that a strong sense of self benefits tweens and teens by:
- increasing self-awareness and self-confidence
- building self-regulation skills
- guiding them to make healthier choices
- protecting their mental health, and
- helping them grow into resilient adults.
Emphasizing self-discovery during adolescence should be a given, right? But here’s what we’ve learned from talking with tweens and teens: When asked to define self-discovery, they either don’t have an answer or they equate it with determining sexuality and gender identity. While that is certainly an important part of self-discovery, there is so much more that makes you… well, YOU! We need to do a better job of teaching young people how to explore their unique skills, values, and strengths, and how to use those qualities to build a happy, healthy life. That’s where Lucero comes in.
Lucero’s Journey feature gamifies the inner work of self-discovery to make it fun and engaging. Based on personality traits, users create an Avatar who grows and transforms with them. They advance on their voyage by answering questions crafted to build self-awareness and provide individualized emotional regulation skills. Prompts might, for example, help them discover healthy habits to deal with stress or other difficult emotions. New insights and tools are added to each user’s personal Log for easy, anytime access.
Here are three ways Lucero’s playful, bite-sized approach to self-discovery supports the development of a strong sense of self:
1. Tweens and teens learn to look inside for answers.
Adolescents are growing up in a world of constant comparison and pressure to look to others for answers. Whether scrolling on Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat or going down YouTube rabbit holes, they’re bombarded with external opinions and judgments. One therapist who advises Lucero says, “When asked questions, they often route it to what other people say, think or do. It is very challenging to turn that question around for youth to really reflect on their own opinions about various topics.” Lucero encourages users to explore their own values, quirks, and strengths, and boosts their confidence to just be themselves.
2. Lucero models the importance of self-care.
Self-discovery isn’t just about learning what makes you special; it’s also about learning how to take good care of yourself. Each of Lucero’s features is designed to give tweens and teens practical, developmentally-appropriate tools and practices to care for their minds, bodies, and hearts. Users learn how to identify, name and regulate their emotions, develop healthy habits that are proven to protect mental health, and reach out for support from others. Strengthening emotional regulation skills teaches them that they can control their emotional state, which builds self-efficacy.
3. Lucero embeds the journey of self-discovery in the support of real-life relationships.
One critical piece of a youth’s self-discovery journey is finding a sense of belonging with others. Researchers tell us that acceptance, inclusion, and feeling valued by others helps strengthen an adolescent’s identity and self-confidence. That’s why Lucero makes real-life relationships part of the self-discovery equation. Tweens and teens can invite any combination of friends and family members to join their Crew. Crew members share insights, offer support, and help each other reach their goals. By strengthening tweens’ and teens’ relationship with themselves and with others, Lucero helps them discover and grow into the healthiest, happiest version of themselves.