Family therapy for teens

A lot of parents call our office seeking an adolescent therapist because they are having conflict with their teen and are looking to resolve that conflict. At times, there are greater issues that need to be addressed such as delinquency or substance abuse.

Primarily, we find the challenges come down to misunderstandings and miscommunication. That is a good thing because these are issues that we can easily help families to address. We invite parents to schedule an appointment so that we can begin to determine what is causing challenges at home and interpersonally between parents and an adolescent child.

In the meantime, here are a few issues that we see and some suggestions.

The power struggle

As children turn into adolescents, they begin to explore their role and their place in the world. As they do so they will begin to assert more independence which can lead to a power struggle between them and their parents or other authority figures.

It would be a mistake to view this as a negative thing. When there are set rules for communication and negotiation, them asserting their independence and speaking their mind can be incredibly healthy as it is going to help them grow into assertive and articulate adults. The key is establishing ground rules for communication so that it does not create this intense power struggle. That begins with learning how to communicate with respect, listening to each other and having an idea of how to resolve conflict when both parties do not agree. This is something that we can help with as an adolescent therapist.

Conflict over rules

Often the conflict between an adolescent and their parents comes down to fighting over rules, which ones should be followed and how. Many parents take the approach that all of the rules should be followed precisely. End of story. We know that if children and adolescents are not involved in the rulemaking, they are going to be less likely to follow those rules when a parent is not around. Since adolescents spend less and less time under parental supervision, it is important for them to follow rules when no one is watching.

However, to reach that point, they must participate in establishing those rules in the first place. Reaching this point involves the process of co-regulation. This is where parents and adolescents work together to establish rules and to redefine them as necessary.

Parents and adolescents tend to fight over trivial things

There is a misconception that adolescents disagree with their parents over important life decisions like religion, education and morality. This is not true. When it comes to the important things that define a person's character in life, most adolescents will generally agree with their parents. Where they disagree is on trivial things like fashion, music, food, television shows, etc.  As an adolescent therapist, we help families to identify which issues are important and worthwhile to resolve and which ones are trivial and can be let go or left alone.

Schedule an appointment

It is possible to have a good relationship with your adolescent child. That starts with communication and mutual respect. We can help you to develop these things within the context of your relationship. Call today so that we can get started.

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