Working with teenagers is a particular interest of mine because I enjoy their unique perspectives and the challenges that they present in therapy. One of my first priorities is to form a trusting relationship with the teen so that he feels comfortable, respected and safe. Sometimes this relationship forms quickly and easily and sometimes a solid working relationship takes many sessions over a period of months to be established.

Another priority for my work with teenagers is having clear goals and expectations about the therapy process. This involves figuring out what concerns the teen has as well as what concerns the adults in his/her life have since teens frequently come to therapy at the prompting of someone else. Over the first few sessions, as the teen and I get to know each other, we discuss how therapy might be useful in addressing concerns and we agree on the particular goals, strategies and format for the therapy. Teens often feel most safe in therapy when they are included in decisions about who else is involved in their therapy. So we talk throughout the therapy about how people such as parents, friends or teachers might be included, using a plan that fits the needs of that teen’s particular situation at any given time.

Most teens engage primarily in talk therapy with me, although I will bring in strategies and techniques from other types of therapy as appropriate, such as journaling, creative tasks using art materials, music or movement, mindfulness exercises or structured therapeutic worksheets. One of my primary goals with teens is that they leave each session with something of benefit and that when our work together is finished, they have had a positive experience that supports them in using therapy at other times of challenge or stress in their lives.

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I am not alone; I am loved; I am enough.