Adolescents enter counseling for a wide variety of reasons. We will highlight some of the more common reasons: because their parents have insisted that they get help and the adolescent can not speak up for themselves; because “there needs to be an attitude change” and their caretakers have the ability to reward or punish the adolescent’s decision on whether or not to enter counseling; because a juvenile justice authority has ordered it; and our favorite, because they are trying to manipulate a parent into getting help.
While it is true that adolescents seldom enter counseling on their own volition, they are not really any more reluctant to seek help than their adult counterparts when you consider the age difference. Adolescents cannot see what they are doing to themselves because they have not had as much time on the planet as adults who are willing to seek professional help. Life experience, in sufficient quantities, will help you see what is not working, even if you do not know what to do to fix it. Most adolescents do not have enough life experience to see their role in the problem so they assume the problem must be outside of themselves and they expect everyone else to change.
Proponents of the TOUGH LOVE school of child rearing would have us believe that they know what is best for a teenager and that a firm hand is the answer. TOUGH LOVE attempts to impose a “greater” and “wiser” will on a troubled teenager when most proponents would willingly admit that they do not have a clue about what is troubling the young person.
If adolescents find mood altering “solutions” to the problem such as alcohol and other drugs, the real problems will begin. TOUGH LOVERS grew in numbers as the “Just Say No” campaign of the Reagan administration failed to achieve its foolhardy expectations. Young people were saying “yes” to addictive substances in greater numbers than the “Woodstock” generation. YES offered a temporary solution to living problems young people were being faced with. Besides, it is doubtful that any generation of adolescents ever bought into the adult party line of – “Do as I say and not as I do.”
We believe that adolescents can learn to identify the problem, can be aided in developing strategies for addressing the problem, and respond in loving and responsible ways to learning that THEY ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. We can help you engage your adolescent in developing family solutions to life problems if you are willing to replace TOUGH LOVE with Love and you are willing to examine the ways your adolescent’s home and family life may be contributing to the problem.
Leadem Counseling & Consulting Services provides adolescent counseling services in our offices or in your home. Adolescent counseling is a subspecialty we developed in the course of our work with behaviorally-challenged special education students and patients recently discharged from residential drug and alcohol treatment services. Our adolescent counselors are seasoned and will not be practicing on your children. Call us for more information.