Tweens & Teens

Are you experiencing frequent parent-teen conflict?
Is he or she defiant, rebellious or argumentative?
Do you feel they don’t communicate important things to you?
Do you just wish your teen would listen?

Or have you noticed:

  • Maybe she looks anxious
  • Maybe he looks depressed
  • There are school problems where there wasn’t before
  • Something has changed in the home environment creating a ripple affect

Teens don’t come with an instruction book! Many, many parents report great difficulty balancing limits with permissiveness, and discipline with privileges. Teens need just the right balance of freedom and supervision, and it takes great wisdom to get the balance right.

Depending on need Adolescent Therapy can occur in several ways:

  1. Independent client-led sessions which allow your tween/teen the trust, time and space to find their own way within a safe and supportive environment filled with different modalities and tools.
  2. Independent Teen Sessions as above, coupled with Parenting Counselling with the parent(s).
  3. Some find a three pronged approach is most beneficial which in addition to 1 & 2, adds Family resolution sessions to foster better communication between parent and child.

Client-Led Therapy

Most often problems arise because teens are out of touch with their emotional life, that is they lack an articulate awareness of their true feelings, needs and desires, and therefore surely their parents are not aware of them either! This can generate low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, poor school performance of parent-teen conflict. Therefore, a major goal of Teen Therapy will be helping them to develop a conscious awareness of their emotional life including needs and desires, which are part of feelings. Using tracking and reflection I encourage teens to have great respect and awareness for their own feelings, which helps their emotions begin to flow, which can resolve a big part of the issue.  As this process is client-led your Teen can accomplish this through talk therapy alone, or through utilizing the additional modalities or tools within the space including play, art and sand tray.

Through this work, I help teens to leave behind unhelpful thought patterns such as low self-worth, self-criticism and perfectionism, replacing them with healthy, positive thoughts that support his or her own self-value and self-respect. I show so much respect and consideration for your teen and his or her feelings and desires, that they take in from my modelling and learn to respect and empower themselves.

Parenting Counselling as part of Teen Therapy

When I work with the parents during Teen Counselling, I don’t give so much direct advice, as that may leave parents feeling bossed. Rather I help you to develop your own solutions to your teen’s issues. I really believe in my parents, I feel that you possess the innate wisdom already within your mind to resolve the problem, I just help you bring those great ideas out and put them into practice. Often I use Socratic Questioning, where I guide you towards developing your own unique solutions and realizations.

For example, I once had a parent who was frequently punishing her teen, but was unsatisfied with the results. I posed her a series of questions over several sessions, until she expressed the realization on her own that the punishments weren’t working, in fact they were doing more harm than good, and she has decided to discontinue them. I never said once, “Avoid punishing your teen,” she authored her own change, and therefore was much more proud of it and willing to implement it over the long term.

I have been working with teens for over 20 years, first in residential treatment and later as a counsellor. I can bring you information from my experience about what has and hasn’t worked in the past with others in order to illuminate the decisions you will make with your own teen.

Many parents have reported that through Parent Counselling, they feel extremely relieved at having been guided how to avoid all the Parenting pitfalls from someone who has been through it before, and can point out the common mistakes to avoid!

Family Communication Sessions

Often part of our plan will involve time with parent, teen and therapist, to strategize how to resolve issues together. The most useful technique used here is to foster communication between parents and teen. It is amazing how many times parents have exclaimed, “Wow, so that is the reason you are acting this way, that is how you really feel, I didn’t know that!” In addition, the teen is often made to realize that his parents’ behavior towards them, such as setting limits, is really all for their own benefit, and with this understanding they begin to resist less.

Over the years I have heard many teens say, “Yes, that’s exactly what I am feeling and what I mean, thank you for interpreting kid-speak into adult-speak!” Parents are often thrilled to understand exactly why their child is feeling misunderstood, and appreciate getting back on track!
I help your teen to get their feelings, thoughts, and point of view so clear that they are much better able to communicate it to their parents, and this itself resolves many issues.

In addition many teen’s problems stem from a lack of a feeling of self-determination.

Every child needs a balance between autonomy and parental limits, gradually less and less limits and more autonomy as they get older, giving them practice at making decisions so they will be prepared to be an adult. The trick is that you need to strike just the right balance at the right age. Too much freedom is dangerous and unhealthy, but too many limits causes defiance, resistance and rebellion. 

The solution usually seems to be to give more self-determination on minor everyday issues that are less risky and parents can safely give in on, while enforcing limits only for big issues that are truly non-negotiable. You see, giving the teen more autonomy on smaller issue exhilarates them with a great feeling of self-respect and self-determination, which gives them the strength and patience to tolerate the fewer important limits. That’s the secret: reducing commands and limits wherever it’s possible to give in, which gives you the increased power to enforce them without resistance on major issues.

Therefore I help parents to go through all the limits and commands they are issuing, and pick out which ones we can safely leave out, and which ones are truly non-negotiable. To accomplish I re-frame many limits as actually unnecessary, and not at all dangerous to give in on.

I have seen this triple approach resolve many teens’ issues!

I’m afraid my teen will be unwilling to stay consistently in therapy…

At the beginning of the first session with your teen, I explain to him or her that this is all about fulfilling their needs, how my entire job is to back them up and help them out; that I am entirely on their side. In addition, I let them know that they are the boss and they completely lead the course of the therapy. This usually gives the teen an exhilarating sense of empowerment, which gives them great pleasure and motivates them to continue to come to sessions. Because of my years of experience with teens, I know how to talk to them and how to establish a warm, pleasant relationship. Most of my teens love coming to therapy with me!

I’m afraid my partner will be unwilling or unable to come with us to Counselling…

Parenting Counselling as part of Teen Therapy can still be very effective with only 1 parent attending. A family is a united system, and when even one element of the system makes changes the whole system improves! Often when the other partner sees benefits after a time, they will be inspired to attend as well. Never forget that you alone possess enough power to resolve your teen’s issues!

If you are ready to take your relationship with your teen to the next level, and would like guidance or treatment, or believe your teen would benefit from individual sessions, please call me for a complementary 20-minute consultation at (226) 230-3433 .

I look forward to speaking with you!



275 10th Street
Hanover, ON N4N1P1

believe@justjulia.ca
(226) 230-3433

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