We love to work with this age group.
That may be why most of the guys and girls of teenage and college age who come to us find the experience supportive, positive and helpful. (Some have even said it was fun.)
We believe this happens because we know that with children and teens nothing therapeutic is going to happen until a relationship of trust is in place. Most of them seem to appreciate that relationship.
This was underscored to us recently when a thirteen-year-old boy reluctantly came to counseling for the first time by himself. At the end of the session we mentioned that it was time to go. He said, “Hey, that went quick.” Once he discovered that we were interested in him, he found it helpful to be understood.
As with children’s issues, we work with a range of adolescent issues from mild to severe.
How we help Teens and College Age People
At Bill Jacobs LPCC we find working directly with this age group more often produces the best results, though sometimes we include parents or other family members. (See the section on Helping Families.)
As with children we work with self-defeating behaviors but also we work with the cause -- unresolved emotions.
We strive to create a therapeutic relationship that is non-judgmental and supportive. This kind of relationship enables self-examination and change.
The Girl Who Knew She was Crazy
Jasmine's (not her real name) mother came to talk to us about her thirteen-year-old daughter. Jasmine had been tantruming since she was 3. She had been placed in an in-treatment facility for two months when she was twelve.
At that time she had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and placed on a number of powerful psychotropic drugs. Mother also told us that Jasmine was morbidly obese.
The next week we met Jasmine. She had a beautiful face, clear complexion, and bright eyes, with which she maintained excellent eye contact. She was slightly plump but was no where near morbidly obese.
Jasmine wept as she explained that she would never be able to live on her own, have job, graduate from college, or get married because she was bipolar. She also confessed to "phobias." "Bugs freak me out," she said. "Tell me more," we responded. "There's a hole in my mattress and roaches come out of it. That's why I sleep with the light on."
Imagine being a teenager and believing you were mentally ill, with no hope of a normal life. Wouldn't that make most of us angry?
Jasmine's work was that of seeing that she was a lot more normal than she had believed. After a year of it she had stopped fighting with her mother, had a growing circle of friends at school, had joined the school choir, and put duct tape over the hole in her mattress. She was taking charge of her life and making it go the way she wanted.
She also stopped taking some of her pills (without anyone's permission or knowledge) and found that medication was excacerbating her symptoms. While this move is not something anyone should do without a doctor's supervision, we learned she had better control of her moods without medication. The quality of her sleep increased as well.