Are you experiencing frequent parent-teen conflict?
Is he or she defiant, rebellious or argumentative?
Maybe she has anxiety, maybe he is depressed or has school problems…
Do you feel she doesn’t communicate important things to you?
Do you just wish your teen would listen?
You are not alone!
Teens don’t come with an instruction book! Many, many parents report great difficulty balancing limits with permissiveness, and discipline with privileges. Teens need just the right balance of freedom and supervision, and it takes great wisdom to get the balance right.
The good news is, Teen Counseling in my NYC office can help tremendously with these challenges!
Teen Therapy consists of a three-pronged approach to finding a solution, Parenting Counseling with the parents, Talk Therapy directly with your teen, and family sessions to foster better communication between parent and child. You may choose to use one or all three approaches, and they may be done concurrently.
Parenting Counseling as part of Teen Therapy
It is amazing how good Parenting guidance can improve your relationship with your teen, as well as his or her overall emotional health! We as parents possess tremendous power to influence our teen’s well-being. Just “Tuning up” our Parenting a bit can bring about tremendous improvement.
When I work with the parents during Teen Counseling, I don’t give so much direct advice, as that may leave parents feeling bossed. Rather I help you to develop your own solutions to your teen’s issues. I really believe in my parents, I feel that you possess the innate wisdom already within your mind to resolve the problem, I just help you bring those great ideas out and put them into practice. Often I use Socratic Questioning, where I guide you towards developing your own unique solutions and realizations.
For example, I once had a parent who was frequently punishing her teen, but was unsatisfied with the results. I posed her a series of questions over several sessions, until she expressed the realization on her own that the punishments weren’t working, in fact they were doing more harm than good, and she has decided to discontinue them. I never said once, “Avoid punishing your teen,” she authored her own change, and therefore was much more proud of it and willing to implement it over the long term.
I have been working with teens for many years, first as a High School teacher and later as a therapist. I have a couple of my own teenagers at home. I can bring you information from my experience about what has and hasn’t worked in the past with others in order to illuminate the decisions you will make with your own teen.
Many parents have reported that through Teen Counseling, they feel extremely relieved at having been guided how to avoid all the Parenting pitfalls from someone who has been through it before, and can point out the common mistakes to avoid!
Talk Therapy with your teen.
Most often problems arise because teens are out of touch with their emotional life, that is they lack an articulate awareness of their true feelings, needs and desires, and therefore surely their parents are not aware of them either! This can generate low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, poor school performance of parent-teen conflict. Therefore, a major goal of Teen Therapy will be helping him or her to develop a conscious awareness of his emotional life including needs and desires, which are part of feelings. I teach teens to have great respect and awareness for their own feelings, which helps their emotions begin to flow, which can resolve a big part of the issue.
In addition, I help teens to leave behind unhelpful thought patterns such as low self-worth, self-criticism and perfectionism, replacing them with healthy, positive thoughts that support his or her own self-value and self-respect. I show so much respect and consideration for your teen and his or her feelings and desires, that he takes from my model and learns to respect himself.
Family Communication Sessions in my Manhattan office…
Often part of our session will involve time with parent, teen and therapist, to strategize how to resolve issues together. The most useful technique used here is to foster communication between parents and teen. It is amazing how many times parents have exclaimed, “Wow, so that is the reason you are acting this way, that is how you really feel, I didn’t know that!” In addition, the teen is often made to realize that his parents’ behavior towards him, such as setting limits, is really all for his own benefit, and he begins to resist less.
For example, one time I had a teen who was feeling too much academic pressure from his parents, and was struggling to explain to them why it was so unhelpful. His parents didn’t understand why he could take pressure from school, but not from them. So I paraphrased for them what the teen was really feeling: that pressure from his parents had a strong emotional component to it, he felt that they were being critical of his worth as a person and were approving of him only on condition that he performed well, and this was affecting his self-esteem. The teen said, “Yes, that’s exactly what I am feeling and what I mean, thank you for interpreting kid-speak into adult-speak!” and we slapped hands. The parents were thrilled to understand exactly why their own child felt parental pressure was unhealthy.
I help your teen to get his feelings, thoughts, and point of view so clear that he is much better able to communicate it to his parents, and this itself resolves many issues.
In addition many teen’s problems stem from a lack of a feeling of self-determination.
Every child needs a balance between autonomy and parental limits, gradually less and less limits and more autonomy as he gets older, giving him practice at making decisions so he will be prepared to be an adult. The trick is that you need to strike just the right balance at the right age. Too much freedom is dangerous and unhealthy, but too many limits causes defiance, resistance and rebellion.
The solution usually seems to be to give more self-determination on minor everyday issues that are less risky and parents can safely give in on, while enforcing limits only for big issues that are truly non-negotiable. You see, giving the teen more autonomy on smaller issue exhilarates him with a great feeling of self-respect and self-determination, which gives him the strength and patience to tolerate the fewer important limits. That’s the secret: reducing commands and limits wherever it’s possible to give in, which gives you the increased power to enforce them without resistance on major issues.
Therefore I help parents to go through all the limits and commands they are issuing, and pick out which ones we can safely leave out, and which ones are truly non-negotiable. To accomplish I reframe many limits as actually unnecessary, and not at all dangerous to give in on.
I have seen this triple approach resolve many teens’ issues!
But you still may have concerns about Teen Counseling…
Teen Therapy can be expensive, and I’m not sure it’s worth the money…
Teens’ minds, thoughts and emotions are still developing, and they are still relatively flexible. Therefore, Teen Counseling is an early intervention. 6 or 12 months of therapy as a teen can resolve a problem which if left untreated, will require years of therapy as an adult. Resolving the problem now saves you so many years of trouble and costly treatment. Considering the benefits to your teen and family’s emotional health, Teen Therapy now is actually a steal!
I’m afraid my teen will be unwilling to stay consistently in therapy…
At the beginning of the first session with your teen, I explain to him or her that this is all about fulfilling his needs, how my entire job is to back him up and help him out; that I am entirely on his side. In addition, I let him know that he is the boss and completely controls the course of the therapy. This usually gives the teen an exhilarating sense of empowerment, which gives them great pleasure and motivates them to continue to come to sessions. Because of my years of experience with teens, I know how to talk to them and how to establish a warm, pleasant relationship. Most of my teens love coming to therapy with me!
I’m afraid my partner will be unwilling or unable to come with us to Teen Counseling…
Parenting Counseling as part of Teen Therapy can still be very effective with only 1 parent attending. A family is a united system, and when even one element of the system makes changes the whole system improves! Often when the other partner sees benefits after a time, he will be inspired to attend as well. Never forget that you alone possess enough power to resolve your teen’s issues!
I have been working with children and parents in NYC for my entire life!
My mother owned a Montessori school in Brooklyn for 25 years, and I grew up working for her, learning to deal with parents’ and childrens’ challenging situations. I was a teacher for many years, and since 2009 have been full-time in child psychotherapy. I have four of my own boys at home and have overcome many challenges raising them. I bring the triple vantage point of teacher, psychotherapist and experienced parent to bear in helping you work out your teen’s thorny issues. It is my greatest pleasure to help a child!
Feel free to peruse my interesting website including my helpful Parenting blog, download one of my free reports, or view my video. If you are ready to take your relationship with your teen to the next level, and would like guidance or treatment, you may chat with me online here, or call me for a complementary 15-minute consultation at 646-671-1707. I look forward to speaking with you!