Psychological Treatment of Adolescents
Psychological treatment of adolescents is broadly similar to treatment of adults, in the sense that conversation is used; however, it has its own unique characteristics due to the current developmental phase of the adolescent who comes for treatment. Firstly, an adolescent sometimes asks for treatment, but feels doubt, basic ambivalence, whether he or she needs such a process or not. Secondly, the adolescent lives at home, his or her parents fund the treatment and want to be involved in the adolescent's life and take part in important things taking place in their son or daughter's development, but the adolescent, as a part of growing into an independent person, wishes to get them out of the picture, at least regarding the things that he or she views as central and important. This is where a difficulty is formed, between the parents' influential and very present position, and the position of the therapist together with, and in the relationship with, the adolescent and the parents. Beyond these issues, some of the adolescents who come for emotional therapy experience a stormy, eventful period of life, a period of depression, or intense fluctuations. The pace of the external and internal events in their lives is rapid, and the treatment itself must be adapted to this pace
According to my approach, because of this complexity, the initial session is with the parents, to get familiar with the family, the teenage boy/girl's developmental background and the way they see things, through the meeting with the parents. To learn what concerns the parents and what they would like to see change. After that, I will begin the process with the adolescent. It is possible that, after several sessions, I could see the parents to ask more focused questions, share with them the way I view things, and the goals of the process. It is also possible that once the adolescent enters into the therapeutic relationship he or she will request that I do not meet with the parents /set this as a condition, and/or will communicate a message that any meeting with the parents is liable to be harmful to the fragile relationship that is being formed. In such cases, the parents will need much patience, and communication with them will be via telephone and minimal, in order to preserve the teenager's chance of creating in the room a safe space that facilitates development. I am describing a general schema, which is important for parents to know. It is not easy to "deposit" your child in the hands of a professional with the knowledge that you will know little about the process, at least for several months. Involving a psychologist is bringing a stranger into the family life, into the intimate situation, while the extent of your control as a person, as a parent, is limited. This is a part of the complexity of psychological treatment of adolescents. There are therapists or therapeutic centers, that in order to cope with this almost-impossible complexity, separate between the therapist treating the teenager and the therapist who accompanies the parents. I believe that this split is sometimes important, however in general, I prefer to first try working with the family or from a family perspective, and only when necessary, divide the process into two.
More on the subjects related to adolescence and adolescents can be read in the following categories: "Adolescents" under "for General Public" and Articles from various subjects under "for Professionals"