A Problem or Normal Behavior?
- Is your teen-ager refusing to talk to you and shutting you out?
- Does your teen seem depressed, sullen, or withdrawn?
- Do you worry that your teen is under too much pressure?
- Has your teen’s grades suddenly dropped?
- Does your teen lack confidence?
- Does your teen struggle to make friends or seem alienated?
- Has your teen recently changed his or her group of friends?
- Does your teen seem overly influenced by peers or the internet?
- Does your teen seem to be afraid of growing up?
- Does your teen make risky or dangerous choices?
Aren’t these issues to some extent a normal part of adolescence and therefore likely to resolve themselves on their own? That’s a really good question! And no, it’s not uncommon for teens to experience anxiety and/or depression, have trouble establishing friendships, or to be honest and open with parents. But sometimes, things are not as they seem and your teen’s problems are more serious than just normal growing pains. For some teens, simply going to class can elicit anxiety and even a sense of dread in the morning.
A caring and nurturing parent can be a child’s greatest advocate. But some topics are too embarrassing for teens to discuss with parents. A relationship with an unbiased and trusted therapist is valuable in helping your adolescent open up about the issues that are causing him/her pain and in learning to manage complicated emotions.
The experiences we have as adolescents leave lasting impressions on our self-image as adults. Schedule an appointment with me for the purpose of finding out on which side of the coin your teen’s issues fall. If it turns out that it’s not typical adolescence, it’s best to tackle your teen’s challenges now while you can get him/her the help that’s needed. Don’t let high school drama turn into adult tragedy. Your adolescent can become more self-confident, make better decisions, reconnect with you, and get his/her life back on track.
Although you may be feeling helpless as the parent of a teen-ager, know that things can get better!
I imagine at this point you’re wondering what therapy involves, and what you’d be getting into. And even if you’ve been to therapy before, you’ve not been in a session with me. So let me take some time to explain the treatment process to you.
It all begins with an email or a phone call from you. When people make that first connection, it’s hard to wait, they’re eager to get started. And I know that, so I will personally respond to your call, usually within the same day. When I call you, I’m going to ask you some questions to find out if we’re the right fit for each other. I’ll also tell you a little bit about my process, and we’ll schedule our first appointment together. The first appointment I refer to as the “intake interview.” I’ll also direct you to areas on my website that contain my forms, and I’ll have you complete an intake packet and bring it with you to our intake interview. If you have previous evaluations, or other documents that you think will help me to understand you and your needs better, I encourage you to bring copies of those to the first appointment as well.
Once we have the intake interview, people are very eager to begin therapy, and the intake interview is the first part of the process of starting therapy together. Usually people are very nervous when they come to the first appointment, that’s normal. I would be nervous if I were meeting a stranger for the first time. People sometimes have an image of a therapist as somebody who just sits back and doesn’t respond much and listens a lot, and I want you to know that is not me. I am very, very eager to want to get to know you and to understand your problems and to figure out what we can do together to help you.
During the intake interview I’m going to ask you questions about yourself. I want to know more about your background; I want to know about your educational history, your work history. I’ll ask you questions about your medical history, your family history, and I want to know particularly information about the history of the problem that brings you in to see me. We’ll work together to identify goals for your therapy, and then I will offer you some recommendations about how I think I can help you to reach those goals.
When the patient is a child, the initial intake interview involves parents or guardians. That appointment is about 90 minutes, and it allows me time to find out about mental history and background about your child. Following that we’ll schedule an appointment for me to spend time one-on-one with your child in my playroom. And that gives me an opportunity to observe your child clinically, get some ideas about what might be going on, but importantly it allows your child a chance to feel comfortable with me, and comfortable in the room. Now sometimes when I’m working with children, I also find it helpful to see the child and his or her parents in the playroom. And I’ll let you know if I think that that’s going to be an important part of our intake process together.
When I’m working with an adolescent the process is a little different. When I’m working with an adolescent, the first appointment is me and the adolescent together. And that allows me to get some information about the adolescent’s perspective on the problem, and it allows the adolescent a chance to feel like this is something that he or she owns, it belongs to them and they’re more invested in therapy. After that interview is concluded then I’ll schedule the full-length interview with parents or guardians to get the rest of the background information. Any time I’m working with your child or your adolescent, I invite you to spend time in my waiting room where you can make yourself comfortable and feel at home.
Once we finish the intake interviews, then we’ll have identified the problems, we’ll have come up with a plan for how to address them, and then we’re ready to start the therapy interventions, so we’re now at the point of starting therapy together. Some of the frequently asked questions I get at this point are; might I need medication as part of my therapy? And if you do, I know some very qualified physicians that I’ll recommend you give a call, and they will help us together in working on your treatment. Another question I’m frequently asked at the beginning of therapy is, how long am I going to need to see you, and how frequently do we need to get together? And really that depends on the severity of your problem and the nature of your problem. Usually people come to see me once a week, and those appointments are about 45 to 50 minutes in length. I find it very, very helpful to meet with parents on a regular basis, and that allows me a chance to get updates from you on things that are happening outside of the therapy, I can give you updates on your child or adolescent’s progress in therapy, and it’s a chance for us to coordinate the treatment together.
What makes me different from a lot of the other practitioners is that you’ll get very personal service from me in my practice. There’s no middleman, there’s no secretaries or receptionists, there’s no body else you have to tell the story to. It’s just you and me on this journey together, and at the end of the journey it’s my fondest hope that you’ll be in a better place.