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Teen Therapy Is Ineffective Due To Parents

Teen Therapy Is Ineffective Due To Parents

Teen therapy is harder and harder for therapist these days. I know I can certainly say that for myself. I love working with adolescents more than anything. Teens wear their heart on their sleeves. With a rough outer shell that comes crumbling down once they feel you are safe and can truly express themselves. What a joy it is for me to meet with my teens. Most of the time they are brought into therapy unwilling and resistant. Fine with me. I will take them however they come. When the door closes and it’s just the two of us, they get to experience a completely different therapist than the one they made up in their mind.

Teen therapy is widely used to address topics mainly focusing on the following:

Teen Therapy and My Biggest Hurdle

The Parents

The biggest challenge I face today are the parents. They are unable to parent. Full of guilt and fear. They are totally controlled and manipulated by their teen. The parents walk on eggshells scared that if they upset their teen then the teen may hurt themselves. It is not uncommon for me to have a teen in my office making fun of their parents. Calling them stupid, ignorant and easily manipulated. I can see the smirk of satisfaction on their faces. Now can we blame the teen or does this one go to the parents that are totally incapable of holding the line and disciplining?

Teen Therapy Is Ineffective Due To Parents
Teen Therapy Is Ineffective Due To Parents

The biggest challenge I face today are the parents. They are unable to parent. Full of guilt and fear. They are totally controlled and manipulated by their teen. The parents walk on eggshells scared that if they upset their teen then the teen may hurt themselves. It is not uncommon for me to have a teen in my office making fun of their parents. Calling them stupid, ignorant and easily manipulated. I can see the smirk of satisfaction on their faces. Now can we blame the teen or does this one go to the parents that are totally incapable of holding the line and disciplining?

Most Common Mistakes Parents are Making today:

1. Parents never leave their children alone.

The parents are the social introverts not the teens. I see it all the time. When a mother and daughter come in. The mother is clinging to the daughter afraid of the world so she keeps her daughter with her 24/7. This sucks and drains the life right out of them. Your teen is not suppose to be your support, best friend and caretaker of your emotions.

2. Parents talk to their kids instead of disciplining.

Today’s parent wants to understand why a teen did the act. They are meek and mild, again walking on egg shells. Do you really think a teen will easily cave and admit to wrong doing when you engage in a discussion? Why is it so important to figure our the reason? Even in teen therapy I am not exploring the why. Usually the why is because they can get away with it and they are seeing how far they can go with the behavior.

This is a real tragedy because the teen is not fully an adult and so they get hurt falling of the ledge that parents should be telling them is there. I see this a lot with kids experimenting with fire setting, truancy, spray painting schools, sexting, social media, accusing teachers of harassment. Before long your teen is in so much trouble and your still asking why. Why would they do that to you? It’s not about you parents.

3. Not responding to the underlying reason for their child’s misbehavior.

Reacting to the behavior rather than understanding the “root” of the misbehavior. Think about what your child may need that they’re not getting. Your undivided attention? A parent that is not on Facebook or their cell phone all the time? How about a parent that does not make every incident about themselves and personalizes it.

4. Parents want straight A’s from their teens and care less about emotional intelligence

Why is it so important that your child be in honor roll classes? Are you living through your child’s achievements? Maybe not and your running on fear and anxiety trying to cram as much into your teens. They are resentful, stressed, sleep deprived, panicky, etc. All I have to do in teen therapy is take one look at the parents and I know exactly what is going on. The parent is panicky, scattered, anxious and can barely take a breath. I understand that most parents want to drop their kids off with therapist and come by and get them but they need to be part of the process. Family therapy and Individual therapy is vital for those members of the family having a hard time owning their space.

Teen Therapy is Harder and Harder for Therapist

So why is teen therapy so hard for therapist today? Because when we give helpful effective ways to practice new skills and implement structure the parents cave. Why even bring them to therapy if you do not want to be a part of the solution? You actually are the ones needing therapy. Not your teens. They are doing what teen do.Testing the limits to see how far they can go. Ask yourself as a parent the following questions:

  • Why do I find it so hard to discipline?
  • Why do I feel bad or guilty when I know I need to implement structure?
  • What is is in my teen that I see about myself that I am unable to address?

These are some good questions to start off with. Maybe instead of rushing your teen into therapy you might think about getting individual or couples therapy first.

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