Working with teenagers is not so different to working with adults other than there is someone (parent or carer) responsible for them which means there are 3, maybe 4 people to consider in the relationship sense. When working with an individual adult, they often seek the help themselves whereas a parent is more likely to seek support for their child.
As a parent or carer you are likely to have an idea about what your teenager needs and it may be something you have tried to provide yourself but due to your emotional attachment, have found it difficult. Teenage years, as I’m sure you will remember, are difficult at the best of times, without the additional impact of stressors such as a breakdown in a relationship (personal or parental), bereavement or abuse (domestic abuse or sexual abuse) which can all make life so much harder as they attempt to make sense of their changing world, experiences and perspectives; never mind their emotions. Teenagers will rely on fantasy based beliefs; again this is not different from adults, for example ‘if I tell someone what I think or feel about this/what I did/what happened, they will think or do……..’ This can be so far from the reality but stops them in their tracks nonetheless.
You may be reading this blog as you are worried about your teenager and this is often where the difficulties start; your relationship with them may leave you feeling rejected, helpless and/or fraught with worry. You want them to be happy and to be able to relate to you again like they used to; and here you are.
Well firstly that’s great because as children we tell them that if someone is unable to help, go to the next person. Secondly, don’t feel bad for not being able to help; it is a normal and healthy part of adolescent years to move away from our parents as we try to figure out who we are, develop our independence and strengthen our personalities. Also, you’ll have so much history with your teenager, fantasy based beliefs and difficult experiences of your own, that stepping out of that, out of being a parent, is practically impossible: so give yourself a break.
What would therapy for my teenager involve?
Therapy with me would be 50 minute weekly sessions (see FAQ for further information on sessions). It would be a confidential service for your teenager and this includes the same confidentiality agreement as with aduls. I know you will have an idea about what your teenager needs, and this is really valuable, your teenager will then be able to expand on this by developing a therapeutic contract with me about what they want for themselves. Like all therapy, it is a process and not an event which, especially when in a crisis, is difficult as the changes want to be seen ASAP.
As a parent, our agreement is that I will be as open and honest with you about the work as I can (consent of your child) and I will work with your child with absolute respect and care. I have been working with children and young people for over 10 years and know how difficult it is to let someone in to work with your child (please click here for more information on me).
Your teenager will have their own set of defences and they will need to learn to trust me to let me in, I hope you can trust in the time they need to work their way through their difficulties.