Family Therapy for Teens

Are You Worried About the Well-Being of Your Teen and Your Family? 

  • Are you concerned about how your teen spends time outside of the home and the people he or she hangs out with?
  • Are your teen’s grades dropping?
  • Does your teen hide away in his or her room, refusing to interact or communicate with the family?
  • Is the stress caused by your teen’s behavior affecting everyone in your home?
  • Do you worry that you teen doesn’t understand the future consequences of his or her actions?
  • Do you wish you could reconnect with your teen and help him or her succeed now and in the future?

Family Therapy for Teens - Hilo, HI, Stephanie Dodge, PhD

Raising a teenager can be one of the most challenging jobs that anyone takes on. You might be concerned that your teen is heading down the wrong path, maybe even following in the footsteps of friends or family members who also made dangerous choices. You may worry about the influence your teen is having on his or her younger siblings. Maybe your teen just doesn’t listen to anything you say, and you feel helpless and frustrated. Perhaps you and/or your co-parent are getting angry or giving up, which strains your familial relationships. You and your co-parent might not be able to agree on what to do.

Maybe you wonder what happened to the sweet, loving child that you raised. You might have to force him or her out of bed each morning and argue about homework and school. Perhaps you spend your day distracted by worries for your teen, wondering who he or she is hanging out with, whether he or she is skipping class or if he or she is being bullied. You may spend all day looking forward to seeing your teen again and checking in, but face immediate conflict when you pick your sullen teen up from school. Maybe you are trying to be kind and supportive, but your teen thinks you are nagging him or her. You might just want to help.

Many Parents Face New Challenges With Teens 

If you feel baffled and overwhelmed by your teen’s behavior, you are not alone. After raising your child for over a decade, you may feel suddenly inadequate and confused. Almost all parents struggle with the sudden changes that come with the teenage years. When you child was young, it was your job to be a director who could offer comfort, rules, restrictions and guidelines. When your child became a teenager, your job description changed without warning. And, the change isn’t clear or easy to identify. You might find yourself in a sudden new role. As the parent to a teen, you have to be a coach, cheerleader and consultant, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell which role is called for in which situation. The new strain you might be experiencing is no one’s fault – your teen is trying to grow up and become his or her own person. But, he or she still needs your love, guidance and support.

The teen years are hard. School, family and social life puts so much pressure on teens, and the challenges of social media can make these pressures even more intense. Teens are exposed to many more potential dangers today than they were a few decades ago. While teens want to pretend like they have all the answers, they don’t. And, your teen is being influenced by all of the adults in his or her life, which can sometimes lead to confusion and uncertainty, especially if you and your co-parent disagree or send mixed messages. Thankfully, there is a way to help your teen navigate these challenging years.

Family Therapy for Teens Can Help Your Teen Effectively Navigate Challenges and Your Family Reconnect

If you are feeling helpless and frustrated, family therapy for teens can help you develop the parenting skills you need to adjust to your new role in your child’s life. In sessions, I can act as your coach and offer you practical tips and techniques so that you can effectively cope with the challenges of adolescence. I offer a safe, supportive environment for your whole family to express their needs, worries and thoughts, without any fear of judgment.

Throughout sessions, I can help you and your teen develop and practice new communication skills. As a parent of a teen, you are probably discovering that “punishment” and “reward” are less effective motivators, especially when your teen ignores your punishments. By learning new parenting techniques that rely on open communication, you can help your teen think things through and make his or her own good, safe decisions. Your teen can also learn valuable life skills that are often not taught elsewhere, such as stress management and emotional regulation.

Many parents feel guilty or inadequate when they see their teen struggle. In sessions, I can help you let go of needless regret and guilt and feel more confident in your parenting abilities. Although raising your teen may be challenging, you can still have a positive influence in his or her life. I have years of experience working with family systems, so I know that reconnection and healthy communication are possible for you.

Reaching out for help shows that you are a parent who cares and realizes that things are changing in your teen’s life. By admitting your need for support and pursuing family therapy for teens, you are modeling healthy behavior for your teen. Your teen can see that there is always room for change and growth. I can help you help your teen make the difficult transition from childhood to adulthood. You can play an important role in your teen’s life.

You may think that family therapy for teens can help you reconnect, but still have questions or concerns…

I can’t get my teen or co-parent to come to sessions.

Even if your teen or other family members are resistant to family therapy for teens, I encourage you to bring whoever is willing. A family is a system, and when one part of that system makes positive changes, the others parts change as well. Whether or not your teen will come, you can learn more effective parenting skills that can help your relationship.

During out first few sessions, I will give you some basic information about how therapy will work. It is about practical solutions and real techniques. Sometimes, after learning more about what therapy actually is, other family members become more willing to join.

I’m afraid that my teen is hiding a dangerous or risky behavior, and I’m not sure I want to know.

It is important for me to form a safe, trusting therapeutic relationship with your teen, which means that we will have some one-on-one sessions. I will only tell you what your teen shares in those sessions if there is a danger of self-harm or harm to others. Otherwise, what your teen tells me will be confidential. In family sessions, I will help you and your teen develop healthy communication so that you don’t hold as many secrets from one another. I understand your apprehension, and I can also work with you to help you feel more prepared to hear about difficult truths. In family therapy for teens, we can all work together to offer support and guidance to your teen.

My teen doesn’t want to change. How can family therapy for teens help us?

I can’t promise you that your teen’s behavior will change. However, in sessions, I can help you process your own feelings about your teen so that when your teen becomes ready to change, you will be equipped to be there for him or her. I can help you feel ready for that teachable moment so that you can be positive and supportive when it arises. Also, even if your teen doesn’t want to change, family therapy can offer a safe place for you, your co-parent and your other children. Sometimes, a difficult teen’s behavior causes trauma for the whole family. Therapy can lead to greater unity and healing.

If you want to help your teen grow into a healthy, successful adult, I invite you to call (808) 747 3445 for a free 15-20-minute phone consultation. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about family therapy for young children and my practice.

Other Information:

National Institute of Mental Health: The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Teen Brain: Behavior, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Parenting: Preparing For Adolescence

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Adolescent Development Part II

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Driving and Teens

Boys Town:  Parenting Principles

Boys Town:  T.I.M.E. for Technology

Boys Town: Game Over: What to Do When Technology Takes Over Quality Time

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry:  Social Networking and Children

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