The teen years are challenging. Insight of the week! Challenging for both the teenager and his or her parents. The teen is going through so much – physically, emotionally and intellectually. All of these moving parts, and the brain is not fully developed to handle all this. The left brain rational decision making portion is particularly underdeveloped. Thus, many teenagers have a variety of issues. Parents and teachers, and perhaps other involved persons, struggle as to how best assist the teen through this turmoil. Perhaps a qualified and experienced therapist could be of value here.
Over the years and today I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with teenagers – and accomplish good things. At one level I am surprised how well teens open up to me and most often move forward productively to reach the appropriate next stage of their evolution. Connection and readiness stage are the keys to such success. May I elaborate.
When I counsel teens I first meet with the parent(s). Their perspective, and my perception of them as parents, is important. I thus have a head start of understanding before I meet with the teen. This also gives me the opportunity to find the necessary conduits to establish a relationship with the teen.
Given this background information I am ready to meet, connect, and begin the therapeutic advance with the teenager brought to me. If the teen does not feel comfortable with the therapist s/he will not open up. If s/he does not open up there will be no improvement and further attempts at counseling would be a waste of time and money.
The second critical factor is readiness state. Even if the teen connects well to the therapist, if s/he is not ready to move on psychologically and behaviorally, it would be a waste of time and money to continue. On that note I remember a teen who was very reluctantly dragged into counseling with me. He swore to his parents that he would not even speak to any counselor. In this case I overcame his silence oath and we had a very open discussion on what his perception and needs were. At the end he said, “I like you, you make sense, but I am not ready right now to deal with this stuff. I will be back at a later time.” He and many others have come back “later” realizing that this is a guy that gets me and I can talk to.
Connection and readiness are the two most critical components for effective therapy addressing the concerns that parents bring to the therapist. The therapist needs to have this awareness and skill sets to analyze and effectuate the necessary changes for the teen to get on a rewarding track moving forward in his or her life.
I find it rewarding to work with teenagers. They trust me and can share with me their reality, which most often they cannot share with any other adult. A necessary step for them to become the wonderful person that can emerge!
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates