The teenage years are one of the most challenging phases for both teens and their parents. Teens usually start to face a lot of new pressures and can sometimes react in not so healthy ways when they encounter a problem. Teens may need counseling in order to cope with this problems and take the right approach to solving them. Parents must always be on the lookout and know the signs they need to look out for and how they can find the right counselor for their teenage children.
Some struggles teenagers face are a normal part of growing up, like experimenting new ideas, dealing with peer groups, and going through changes in identity, interests, and moods. It is always important for parents and guardians to exercise a great deal of patience when dealing with them to help them to open up and say the problems they are having.
There are some instances when the parents or guardians are needed in counseling the teenager. There are some teenagers that have a problem as a result of what’s happening to them at home. Some common problems that a problem have a role in include divorce and drug abuse by one or both parents. Below are some tips that can help when it comes it counselling for teenagers.
Listen and Reflect
Many times when people are approached by teenagers for counseling, they immediately start to feel like they have the words of wisdom they need to impart. When approached by a teen with a problem, give them a chance to talk and carefully listen. You will be able to know more about it and you can easily know what to say. Teens want to know they are being heard and misunderstood, you can also ask questions as they talk to ensure you fully understand what they expect from you. Don’t be quick to share without listening to everything they have to say.
A teenager can easily know when you are looking down on them and judging them. If the start to feel like you are judging them, then they will most probably shut down and fear sharing it with other people because they assume they will be judged. To ensure they don’t feel judged, tell yourself that although you may not be engaged in their mistakes, it doesn’t mean you are exempted from your own personal flaws.
One mistake that many people usually make when it comes to counselling for teenager is trying to match their experience in order to gain credibility. This will become more tempting the further away you move from adolescent, but it will jeopardize the counselling process. Get rid of the need to share a similar experience. If you happen to have a similar experience, don’t tell them the whole story. One that always work is telling them I can relate to what you are feeling because I have been through a similar situation in life. This will give you a chance to know if they want to hear more, but if they don’t ask, then stop there.
Differentiate between danger and drama
When working with teenagers, especially the younger ones, it is very important to know between real danger and drama. If you don’t know the difference, then you should always assume real plausible danger. When you have known the teenager for some times and you realize that they are overdramatic, only then can you begin to give less attention to the crisis. If you are not sure, you can opt for professional help.
Teenagers are usually characterized by stream thinking (black and white thinking)
When faced with a problem, teenagers usually go to the extreme thinking and start to automatically think that this is the worst problem ever. How can you deal with such type of thinking? It is always a good idea to ask questions like ìIs it so bad?î Do you think it will always be this way? Can you think of a time when it was not bad?î This questions will help bring them to the middle and make the process of counselling much easier.
Activate their family systems
This is one that many people forget. The family systems usually wants to help in majority of cases. This in no way means running to the parent every time they have a problem. Having the parents aware that there is a problem can help in providing a solution that you may have not thought of before. To make the counselling more productive, try getting permission from the teen, but there are some cases like drugs, alcohol, and danger to self that you have to bypass the desire of the teen to have their parents be in the dark. During the counselling, never promise the teen confidentiality. Tell them you will try your best to keep the conversation private but I will tell anyone and everyone in order to keep you safe.
Less is more provided it is frequent
Don’t try to use long sessions with teens. Adults can go for long period of times because they can be easily loosened. Have many short sessions instead of one long session that will not help much. Teen ego boundaries do not allow them to have long conversations that can help them.
Small talk matters
It is essential to find little things to talk to adolescents about. Knowing their interests, schedules, and what is going on in their lives will help. It will help in lowering resistance and makes them feel connected. You will have something to talk about beyond their problems.
Counselling for teenagers is not as hard as it may seem. Counselling for teenagers is something you can do, provided you know what to do and avoid.