Skip to content

Millennials and GenZ and their concerns for the present and future

In this blog entry we’ll be talking about how millennials and GenZ feel about their place in the world and what we can do to help them. We all experience similar themes according to the generation or time in which we were born and the cultural and world events that happened around us. 

According to Strauss and Howe (1992), the most recent generations are: 

• Generation Y/millennials: born in 1980 – 2000. 

• New Silent Generation/Generation Z: born in 2000 onwards.

Millennials are those people born between 1980 and 1995–2000, sometimes referred to collectively as Generation Y. Some people refer to those born after the end of the millennial period as Generation Z, but others argue that the millennial generation also encompasses part of Generation Z. So, the concept of millennials and Generations Y/Z are not exactly aligned and agreed upon. We will refer to them hereafter as millennials/GenZ.

There are particular themes that appear in millennials’/GenZ’s lives: 

Decision-making: Whereas their baby boomer parents (1946-1964) were loyal to a very small number of companies and worked in them for the whole of their careers, millennials/GenZ are much more mobile in their careers. They have many more opportunities to change jobs and even industries, work for themselves, or work from their phones etc. This naturally leads to having to make more decisions about career paths and work opportunities. This also occurs in their personal lives; online dating and dating apps mean that there is an abundance of potential partners to select. While this may sound positive, the greater choice can feel overwhelming. Research shows that being presented with too many options can be paralysing (Iyengar and Lepper, 2000).

Difficulty saying no: Parents of millennials/GenZ are known for their ‘helicopter’ parenting (in other words, ‘hovering’ and ‘rescuing’ their children at the first sign of discomfort). Because millennials/GenZ may have grown up with their parents always watching from the sidelines and having high expectations of them, they may be left with a fear of disappointing people. This can make it hard for them to say no, particularly to their parents but also to others. 

Financial pressures: Millennials/GenZ may become the first generation to record lower lifetime earnings than their parents, and up to one third of millennials/GenZ will never be able to get onto the property ladder. This results in a greater percentage of them living with their parents, which can lead to issues in other areas, for example dating. They may feel that their current reality is very different from the adult future they were promised, having been told that if they went to university and worked hard, they would get a good job and be successful. The worlds of education and work have changed markedly, with zero-hour contracts and the ‘gig economy’ having eroded the securities and rights that previous generations expected from employers. This can affect their therapy, in that, in private practice, therapists might usually expect that the person is funding their own therapy. However, parents may be paying for, or supplementing therapy fees for their adult millennial/GenZ children.

Concern about the world: Younger millennials/GenZ in particular are very concerned with what is going on in the world around them, seeing the negative headlines and worrying statistics about the climate, inequality and so on. As a result, millennials/GenZ are increasingly involved in activism and advocacy, including marches, demonstrations and boycotts. In general, millennials/GenZ are politically aware, ecologically minded, accepting, compassionate and emotionally literate. 

Constant comparison: Millennials/GenZ grew up with the advent and rise of social media, allowing them to compare their lives with the lives of people all over the world, including those of celebrities. This leads to them wondering whether their real lives match up to the ‘Insta-lives’ of those they see online. Moreover, many see every moment as an opportunity to prove their worthiness to the world via edited photographs and clever captions. 

Anxiety: All of these pressures combine to make them experience more stress and less able to manage it than previous generations (APA, 2012). For example, millennials/GenZ are generally overexposed to negative events on the news and social media 24/7, contributing to an inability to ‘switch off’. They are also more able than previous generations to work from home, especially during/after the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to an overlap between work and home life. 

How millennials/GenZ experience therapy:

Millennials/GenZ are an emotionally literate generation, and are readier than previous generations to admit that they need support. As a result, therapy and coaching have been normalised amongst them. They are also more likely to diagnose and label themselves with conditions such as anxiety, depression, OCD and even PTSD. However, these self-diagnoses can become a hindrance as they can use them to excuse their behaviours, rather than to learn how to change them for their own wellbeing, and so they may struggle to let go of them. Alongside this, they may be less able to tolerate uncomfortable emotions, perhaps because of the helicopter parents who fixed problems rather than letting them figure out how to resolve difficulties on their own. 

Language may be used with different meanings to that used by older generations. For example, ‘I spoke to my friend’ can mean that they met in person, video called, sent a text, sent a voice note, spoke on the phone, DM’d on Instagram, commented on a Facebook post and so on, whereas someone from an older generation may assume this means that they met in person. It is important not to dismiss this as being ‘less than’ speaking face-to-face. To millennials/GenZ, speaking online often feels no different to speaking face-to-face. Unlike previous generations, millennials/GenZ will often use various forms of communication between sessions, such as texting, emailing and WhatsApp. Millennials/GenZ who use social media are more likely to overshare early on in therapy, maybe even when they first enquire about it. However, although millennials/GenZ are likely to be comfortable with, and adept at using technology, some may have made the conscious decision to limit their exposure to social media, so it’s important not to make any assumptions about them.

Millennials/GenZ might be more likely to end therapy suddenly or not attend a final session. This may be because the existence of such a large number of dating apps means that millennials/GenZ often don’t experience healthy endings and may favour ‘disappearing’ (ghosting) over having the ‘difficult’ conversation about wanting to end therapy. Another possible reason for this is that helicopter parents may have handled difficult situations for the millennials/GenZ, meaning they have no or little experience of doing so themselves. 

How to help millennials/GenZ in therapy:

We can help them to increase their self-awareness and personal effectiveness by: 

• Normalising the full range of emotions, including feeling stress, upset, anger and other typically ‘negative’ emotions. 

• Embracing flexibility, remembering that many of them work flexible hours or work for themselves, and might not be able to attend weekly sessions at the same time each week. 

• Maintaining boundaries, for example, by encouraging them to limit communication between sessions to administrative tasks (such as rearranging an appointment). 

• If they send a message with therapeutic content, replying that it has been received and that you look forward to discussing it further during the next session. 

• Modelling congruence (when the therapist is real and/or genuine, open, integrated and authentic during their interactions) by, for example, modelling positive endings and empathic honesty during sessions, reviews and endings. 


Launder, A. (2022). Working with Millennial Clients [lecture]. Counsellor CPD. Counselling Tutor. [10/06/2024].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *