Finding the right counselor for your teen can be quite a challenge. Every counselor has a different personality and their own particular style. I want to share a little bit with you about my approach to counseling.
This is how I work.
I am more interested in your teenager’s strengths, gifts and personal resources than any diagnosis or problem he may have. A diagnosis may be helpful in understanding his challenges and creating a roadmap for change. However, there is a lot more to your teenager than the depression, anxiety or acting out he is experiencing. Your teen’s strengths are the foundation that we can use to build positive relationships and help him make better choices for his life.
I work in a collaborative way with my clients towards the goals that we set together. I have lots of experience and degrees, but the parents I work with are always the experts on their own kids. In the same way, teenagers are most definitely the experts on their own personal experiences. I see myself as a guide in the counseling process. We walk the path together.
In my mind, counseling is always more productive when we have an idea about what the goals are. What are we working towards? What needs to change? How will we know when counseling has been successful? I work hard to integrate your goals as a parent with your teenager’s goals to create changes that are good for everyone. Often times, teenagers goals in counseling are drastically different than those of their parents. Sometimes, their most pressing goal is figuring how to get out of counseling. I can even work with that. 🙂
Focused on Solutions
I tend to pay more attention to finding solutions than rehashing the details about the history of the problem. Of course, the history matters, but you can’t move forward if you are always looking backwards. I am always curious about what works and figuring out ways to recreate times of connection and experiences of success. I often find myself asking clients at the beginning of sessions, “Tell me about what went well this week.” Not where did you fall down, but tell me where you stood tall.
Ok, I know that is not even a word. However, I really do try not to talk and act like your average therapist. Teenagers don’t want to be asked, “How does that make you feel?” They don’t usually respond to silence and incessant nodding either. 🙂 I always give a disclaimer when I have to ask typical therapist questions and my teenage clients seem to appreciate this. I also tend to work well with teens who have already seen several therapists and may even be burned out on counseling all together.
Humorous & Playful
Humor and playfulness is an important part of who I am as a person and a therapist. This is especially helpful in my work with teenagers. They are fluent in humor & sarcasm. I use humor to bring perspective to difficult challenges. I use it to sneak past teenager’s defenses and also to keep the conversation interesting. Life can be intense and growing up is hard work. Counseling doesn’t always have to be serious. Sometimes I can get to the heart of the matter quicker with a joke than a serious question. That is always a win in my book.
I hope this post has given you a little window into how I think and how I approach the work that I do.