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  • Lyn Reed

Working with teenagers: use influence

Whether a parent, carer or therapist we need to actively listen and actually care what a teenage thinks.  Get involved.  We need to raise issues in a serious way.

'I am concerned about you because I love you' could be a place to start.

Do stuff together,  Find common ground.  At the same time, it is important to be mindful that every intervention with teenagers does not have to be serious.   As a therapist working with young people, I feel the work is the same as that I have advocated above for parents.

Effective therapists are curious,  We need to get excited about what is going on in the word of the teenager.  If we aren't then we need to reflect on whether we ought to be working with this client group.  Obviously the relationship between parent and teenager is for life and is far more influential and of value than the one the therapist can ever provide.

Yet therapists need to help parents to influence the young person.  We can guide parents to approach their teens in a way which brings them closer.  Stand up for the teenager.  Make sure they know you are on their side.  I often find inviting mum and/dad into the therapy room can be very useful.  Often, the parent feels safe enough to be open about how they feel, and at the same time show a willingness to be influenced by their teen, as well as the therapist.

Handled sensitively and effectively, it can be a winning formula for all those who engage in the process.  

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