Therapy for Adolescents

I do much more adjusting for an adolescent than I do for the average adult. There are a few who make the request themselves to see a therapist. They know what they want, they talk about it well, they utilize the therapy and it’s like working with an adult only with a different set of life concerns. Not many are like this, though a pretty good number can move towards it.

The less mature the teenager is, the more likely I will involve the parent(s) and occasionally I will work almost exclusively with the parents of the teen. While I am not as extreme as I used to be in insisting on family therapy, I never wish to support one family member’s becoming the lightning rod while the broad family stress is overlooked and other participants absolved. On the other hand, working individually with the adolescent can still be a way to respect the budding adult’s wish for autonomy and privacy.

Most adolescents come in under some kind of pressure and I have to work to sell therapy as desirable. There is large component of chit-chat, which after a time is a form of therapy in and of itself. I have to relate warmly to their experience and perspective, while being careful and conservative with confrontation and challenge. I have to be reasonably cool without pandering, but can often play the old fart card to good effect too (and effortlessly too, I might add). I will move often between being playful and sometimes even silly, to serious and sometimes grave, with the aim of using this variation to show respect, to keep things lively and to appeal to the contrasting pulls within the child.

And yes, by the way, adolescence is more of a late stage in childhood than an early stage in adulthood. And by no means does it end at age 18.

Tom Linde M.S.W.
PO Box 28186
Seattle, WA 981189
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