Adolescence is a time for developing one’s identity. Adolescents seek to balance what they’ve been taught as children with what they experience in the here-and-now; they are constantly weighing messages about their identities, i.e. how to be a woman or a man, whether to attend to instincts, pleasurable impulses or rational thought, how to be moral, relational or both, whether to please parents or peers, and how to appreciate who they were as children as compared to who they want to be as adults. Essentially, they are asking themselves “how to be me” (and of course, they are figuring that out!) Adolescents are also learning how to join the larger fabric of society. They now have roles as students and employees, girlfriends and boyfriends, along with being daughters and sons (Gemelli, 1999).
All of this decision-making takes place in some typical arenas, i.e. the desire to spend time away from home, concern over one’s reputation with peers, choosing to use alcohol and drugs, expressing one’s sexuality, and the use of cars (Stilwell et al, 1991). In addition, conflicts increase at home, where the adolescent is most likely to test-out her or his new values, ideals and beliefs against her parents’. During this time, families are challenged to make conflict safe at home. Parents have the dual tasks of modeling how to do conflict in a positive way, while encouraging their teens to think independently and offer alternative solutions. Learning how to express opinions safely and how to negotiate with others are necessary for adolescents to become adults. These skills are also necessary for them to experience successful, future relationships.
I can help your adolescent and your family in the following ways:
• Safe Exploration and Guidance during Adolescence
• Assessment and treatment of any emerging conditions (i.e. depression, anxiety, past trauma, bipolar disorder)
• Collaborative Treatment Planning with professional colleagues (i.e . physicians, teachers, coaches, etc.) to enhance success at school and in extra-curricular activities
• Collaborative Problem-Solving to help parents and adolescents think through problems and develop creative, win-win solutions (vs. using power and control or anger and explosiveness to secure outcomes)
• Compassionate parenting to help you tune-in to yourself and attune empathically to your child
• Attachment skills for parents who want to improve upon their own parenting/the parenting they received, and enhance their attachments with their children
• Level Systems to help adolescents gain gradual freedoms and self-responsibility, develop cause-and-effect thinking, and decrease confusion and polarization among parents (i.e. “good cop/bad cop”)
• Abuse-Specific models to help you intervene with abusive behaviors during times of stress (i.e. substance abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, destruction of property)
• Risk Management/Safety Planning to increase safe choices and resources when under stress at home or in the community
• Interventions at home and at school for children/adolescents with learning disorders and/or rigid cognitive styles (i.e. difficulty with new information, changes in plans, transitions, etc.)
• Gender-specific treatment
• Family Therapy to increase communication, playfulness, and joy