I absolutely love my profession. I meet the most fascinating people and feel privileged when they share their life stories with me. I consider it an honor to be given this level of trust. When people come to see me they are just really tired of being tired. They are frustrated with life and relationships and it has become overwhelming for them. This is when therapy can help the most. Now, there are many different types of therapist and different ways of going about behavior and thought changes. I am a no nonsense type of therapist and my therapy generally entails homework and lots of encouragement as you make these changes in your life.
Let me give you an example of a homework assignment:
“for the next week, when you start to get irritated with your teenager, leave for fifteen minutes and then return to talk about it.”
Pretty simple huh? Well often times it’s not, but if a parent/individual is able to do that specific behavioral change two times more than before then it’s a success. I encourage individuals not to look for perfection but to look for continuing progress. In regards to the example above, if a parent sees success in the new behavior they are more apt to do it again and again until a new positive behavior is formed. This is especially true for children/teens.
There is no guarantee that counseling will produce certain results. As an unwritten rule a therapist should never work harder than the client. If you are not ready to do the work in order to make changes in your life then you might want to wait before seeking therapy.
Parents of teenagers (ages 13-17):
I have been working with adolescents for over fourteen years, my specialty population is adolescents. I think they are the most amazing people. They still have big dreams and are often willing to try different things, they are also still pliable in their thinking which means they are able to make changes usually a lot quicker than adults (generally speaking).
Changing behaviors are primarily accomplished through parent and teen communications. That is where you will see the most change and a better success. It takes time to change behavior, so I try to set the expectation that things will not change overnight, but instead I add the tools needed to deal with issues in the future.
Teenagers are in the developmental process of finding out who they are (separate from you) and where they fit in this world. As a therapist, not only do I work with parents but I work with teens on problem solving skills and coping skills, along with social skills and drug education if needed. Ultimately, it’s up to the client to choose what they want to work on.
Parents of Children (ages 9-12)
There are several ways that children benefit from therapy. The way I utilize therapy is making sure parents are very involved in this process. I educate parents on behaviors and the best practices that have been proven to work. Parents get the homework on this end, let me give you an example.
Let’s say a child has been officially diagnosed with true ADHD. A homework assignment for a parents would be to come up with a detailed scheduled for your child in the home. This could look like:
- 6:00 am to 6:10 am -Get out of bed and pick out clothes for school, go to kitchen for breakfast.
- 6:10 am to 6:25am eat breakfast put dish in sink.
- 6:25 am to 6:40 go put on clothes for school including shoes and socks.
- 6:40 am to 6:50 am brush teeth and brush hair.
- 6:51am leave for bus stop.
(since children still struggle with the concept of time, a timer is used to monitor between changes)
This is the kind of structure I am talking about. Children, especially those who have been diagnosed with ADHD, need structure and as they get in a routine, the structure can be somewhat relaxed. For the child, they know what to expect and therefore their anxiety goes down and so do the morning arguments.