“I AM CONCERNED ABOUT MY TEENAGER”

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Have you noticed worrisome changes in your adolescent? Has he or she become sullen and noncommunicative? Defiant and argumentative? Maybe you notice too much time spent alone or online? Sleeping all the time or up at all hours? Other signs of trouble may be reluctance to attend school, declining grades, or reports from teachers and administrators. Your child may be agonizing over a boyfriend, girlfriend, a break up, or sexuality or gender identity. Or maybe your child has let you know that he or she is anxious or depressed. Are you fearful that your child may self-harm or be suicidal? Are you seeing signs that lead you to believe that he or she is using drugs or alcohol? These are a parent’s worst fears.

As your child continues to suffer and your worry increases, the relationship between you may suffer as well. It can be a painful, confusing time for everyone. You may have tried talking with your teenager, but, like many teens, the response is, “I’m fine.” Where to go from here? You have found your way here, and this might be the right place.

YOU AND YOUR TEEN ARE NOT ALONE

While adolescence can be intense under the best of circumstances, today’s world piles on the stressors at an unprecedented rate. Nearly one in three adolescents will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder by the time they are 18 years old. One recent study shows that the majority of high school students and their parents worry about school shootings. Adolescent depression is also rampant.  If your teenager experienced family conflict or divorce, grief, early childhood trauma, or other diagnoses such as ADD/ADHD, then daily life is going to feel even more overwhelming. The compassionate, calm presence of a skilled adolescent therapist can immediately make healing seem possible where it didn’t before.  

HOW THERAPY CAN HELP YOUR TEENAGER 

I have worked with 100’s of teenagers over the last two decades in a wide variety of settings. I offer a compassionate, nonthreatening space where your child has time and room to explore all the feelings. And I don’t freak out! This is one of the most powerful parts of the therapy experience. Your child will have the opportunity to be with someone who can listen with curiosity and without fear.

We start by building a strong rapport and trust between me and your child. This can take one session or up to several months. As I begin to have a better understanding of the causes of your child’s distress, we work together to develop a plan. I introduce a wide range of tailored information, skills, strategies, and practices beginning at the first session so by the time we end the course of therapy, your teenager will have what he or she needs to continue navigating relationships, daily life, and its challenges with confidence, self-compassion, and insight.

BUT WHAT IF . . . . .?

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There are unique barriers to and doubts regarding the start of teen counseling. Among these are:

 My child has been to see a therapist, and it didn’t go well OR My child has never been to see a therapist. What if he or she doesn’t want to see a counselor?

Starting therapy can be threatening. For those who have never done therapy, they may feel like “it’s weird.” For those who have had previous unpleasant or ineffective experiences in therapy seeing yet another therapist can be distinctly unappealing. We can schedule a 30 minute initial consultation to see if we are a good fit. This first meeting is not therapy! This is usually enough time for your child to assess whether he or she wants to keep coming in. I have had a 100% success rate thus far in reassuring teenagers that I am someone they can work with even if they have tried therapy in the past. Encourage your child to give it a try. There’s no harm in trying it just once!

What if my child thinks that I am the problem? When do I get to tell my side of the story?

The fact that you are searching for a therapist for your child is a sign that, whether you are a part of the problem or not, you are invested in finding a solution. Every parent I’ve met is a parent who deeply loves and cares for their child. You are one of them; have no fear. I work with your child so that we are communicating with you about the therapy without breaking confidentiality. If the relationship between you is strained or conflictual then rebuilding and strengthening that bond becomes a vital part of the treatment plan. You can find more information about your role in your adolescent’s therapy here. (Link to blog posting)

Our schedule is incredibly busy with extracurricular activities.

I have tailored hours to accommodate adolescent schedules. I have evening and Saturday office hours. Sundays are also available if need be.

THERE IS HOPE

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In addition to raising two sons through adolescence and into successful adulthood (harrowing at times!), I have been a middle school teacher, an alternative high school teacher, and a school-based mental health counselor. My doctoral dissertation research focused on adolescent development and trauma. I have developed strong mutual connections with teenagers who wanted nothing to do with another adult in their lives, teens who refused to shake my hand, sit down, or proclaimed in the first session that they weren’t going to stop drinking or self-harming. Teenagers who presented with long-standing patterns of self-harming have terminated therapy clean and sober from these behaviors. Teens have left therapy knowing they are resilient and capable. I have deep abiding respect and empathy for teenagers as they grow away from childhood and toward adulthood. I believe that the adolescents I have worked with over the years know this. I offer a variety of experiential techniques such as drawing or sandtray, or we just talk about the things that matter most to them. While therapy is serious business, we also have fun! 

NEXT STEPS

If you are interested in services for your child or have more questions, I offer a free 15 minute phone consultation or a 30 minute initial consultation. Please call 425-238-2765, send an email to robinbarre@whidbey.com, or fill out the Contact Form. I respond to all inquiries and communications within 48 hours. I invite you to explore the menu on the right for more information and resources regarding adolescence and adolescent therapy.

 

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