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Teenage Counseling and Family Therapy Goals


Teenage counseling often involves the teenager and their family. Adolescence is regarded as a problematic transition period because adolescents often disagree with their parents on various issues such as mode of dressing, hair length, and staying out late. Such disagreements are due to the difficulties and complexities involved during this transition. This transition involves a conflict between developing an independent identity or remaining under the security and protection of the family. During adolescence, there occur significant developments in the emotional, social, economic, sexual aspects of the individual which in turn shape the way the person handles the transition. It is also important to point out that adolescence often coincides with the parents’ mid-life crisis. As adolescents try to adjust to their new roles, their parents are also trying to adjust to the challenges they are faced with. Successful teenage counseling is mainly based on a good understanding of adolescent and family development.

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Important Case questions

Jones & Colin (1980, p. 114) explain that the first task in teenage counseling is establishing whether there is a problem. This is done by evaluating the perceptions of key participants in the process. If any of the participants perceive that there is a difficulty, then this is definitely that a problem exists. Regarding Lisa’s case, the key participants include Lisa and her parents. Both contend that there is a problem that needs to be solved about Lisa’s conduct. As a counselor, the main questions that need to be explored in this case include; what lead to Lisa’s suspension from school, why Lisa prefers dating men older than her, there is a clear indication that she is probably sexually engaged with these men and this should be a key question to be addressed by the counselor.

The counselor will also need to deal with Lisa’s problem of using drugs. the exploration can establish the reasons why Lisa is using drugs, the types of drugs she is using, and the duration of time she has been using the drugs. The final concern worth exploring, in this case, is family relations, particularly the parent’s obvious inability to communicate with Lisa in relation to her negative behaviors. Lisa’s father for example is noted to communicate to the daughter with anger and displays excessive worry while the mother’s approach to communicating with her daughter is so passive. The counselor should finally also endeavor to find out why Lisa is sullen, withdrawn, and not expressive of her feelings in the presence of her parents.

Counseling approach

There are many approaches that can be used in teenage counseling. In addressing the questions that come out in Lisa’s case, the counselor should consider using a family therapy, client-centered therapy, and expressive therapy. The use of expressive therapy is necessary because Lisa is reluctant to express herself, particularly in a verbal manner in the presence of her parents. Basing on Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, it is during adolescence when young people start to develop their own independence. At this point, young people need guidance and encouragement to have a strong sense of self, a feeling of control, and independence. If they do not receive this form of support, they will become confused and unsure of themselves and the future (Sandoval, 2002, p. 343).

The family becomes important in family therapy because it provides the context in which the adolescent experiences physical, cognitive, and emotional changes. As a counselor, the first thing to do is to schedule a session with both parents and their child (Lisa) to find out what is happening and establish which interventions are appropriate. As stated earlier, it is evident that the key participants are frustrated by the outcomes of Lisa’s behavior. It also comes out that the parents are oblivious of how family relations contribute to their daughter’s unwillingness to open up in front of them. As a counselor, I will highlight these observations and echo the importance of the parents communicating in a more accommodating manner to their daughter. The counselor should develop a genogram that will enable them to obtain a good history of the family, a family floor would also be necessary to establish levels of comfort between family members and space accommodations. The family floor will also enable the counselor to know the operating family triangles and subsystems, the use of a family floor will help in diagnosing family problems that are not verbally expressed by the participants (Smith & Stevens-Smith, 1992, Para 1-7).

  1. In carrying on with the family therapy, the counselor will visit make observations and make appropriate records on the level of communication between Lisa and her parents, by doing this it will be possible to assist Lisa because the counselor will have a better understanding of the situation at Lisa’s home. The visit will extend to the school to try and establish why Lisa was sent home if it is not possible to get a convincing explanation from her. A comparison between the two accounts will guide the counselor in knowing why Lisa made the decisions in the manners she has and possibly if she is likely to continue with those behaviors in the future. Tracking will form the basis upon which the counselor can not e-communication areas that need to be improved or strengthened in order to make lists family a more cohesive unit and a reliable source of support for all the family members. By doing this, the counselor hopes to ensure that Lisa will divert attention to using drugs and seeking to go out with older men. The family will then help Lisa to develop a strong sense of personality that will enhance positive behavior change (Adapted from Basic Techniques in Marriage and Family Counseling and Therapy by Smith and Stevens-Smith (1992, para 1-7). Besides using the above approach to work with Lisa’s family, client centered therapy and expressive therapy are indispensable approaches especially in regard to Lisa who is withdrawn and unlikely to express her feelings in the presence of her parents.
  2. The first scheduled meeting between Lisa and the counselor should provide an opportunity for Lisa to reflect on her own experiences first. Once this is done, the counselor will be in a better position to understand Lisa’s side of the story upon which he decides the most appropriate intervention to use for Lisa’s problems. As a counselor, my main aim is also to verify how the client u understands the circumstances and lead Lisa to understand the situation better incase she over looks some aspects of the case. These mainly relate to the consequences of her actions and decisions. An important task at this point is also to establish any faulty conditions that are related with the undesirable behaviors that could have lead to her suspension from school, use of drugs and dating older men, behaviours that her parents seem to disapprove of. The client centered approach requires that the counselor sees the client as good person and disregard the pathological aspects of the case. This in part involves not judging Lisa on her previous mistakes and conduct and being aware of this fact at all the time. Through this process, Lisa will be able to tell her of her experiences from which the etiology t her behavior could be established. Once these factors have been established, the counselor can prescribe appropriate measure for example having Lisa go for treatment for drugs, or ask her parents to pay more attention to her and spend more time helping her to make the necessary adjustments especially in relation to her sexual relationships and school life (Adapted from A short description on client centered therapy by Ryan (n. d., para 1-6)
  3. In case Lisa is so withdrawn not to give a verbal explanation on her case as it is now especially in the presence of her parents, the counselor will need to use various expressive techniques like dance, movement ,art and music to get to understand the issues surrounding the case. Ballou (1995, p.67-68) explains that in participating in these activities, the client is able to discover and overcome the harmful and maladaptive habits and behaviors that create interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts. For Lisa, these behaviors are using drugs and dating and being sexually engaged with older men against the wishes of her parents. Any of the above techniques would be of great help towards healing considering that Lisa is a young adolescent and discussing her sexual life can arouse intense emotional feelings of guilt and probably self condemnation. The counselor can ask Lisa to draw and put her feelings through a painting that should not necessarily be a master piece of art. Expressive therapy is based on Freud’ s hypothesis that symbols represent forgotten memories and are likely to emerge through dreams or art expression due to intra psychic stress. The counselor ought to provide Lisa with a variety of materials which can enable her to express herself, once she has completed creating her work the counselor will look at the form, color scheme or symbolism to assist her to integrate the discovered inner self with the external environment. Therapists like Hanna Kwiatkowska have use art therapy to work with families. The revelations of such art work reveal relationships between family members.color is used to express emotion while form and shape are used to express thought. The use of art therapy is advantantageus in that more information is provided and the defenses in a verbal communication are also weakened.

Therapy goals

Family therapy is abased on the structural approach to the family. Family therapy in this regard serves to provide training in developing a sense of sense of self and in the process enhancing personal skills at different levels. The main goal of family therapy in respect to this case is to help every participant to develop a good sense of self; this includes both the parents and Lisa. In addition family therapy is meant to reconstruct the family by guiding clients to unlock dysfunctional patterns; family therapy also aims at helping participants to gain emotionally from other participants who happen most of the times to be family members (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2007, p. 224).

Counter transference issues

The main counter transference issues attached to this case include Lisa using drugs, missing out of school, and her dating and being sexually engaged to older men at what can be considered a tender age which is fourteen years. The other counter transference concern is the situation of Lisa’s parents who seem to have hit a dead end in trying to help their daughter to avoid trouble and behave well. As a counselor this situations can easily lead to one assuming the position of a rescuer and by doing this, the objective professional relationship between the clients and the professional cease to exist. It’s prudent that if the therapist foresees this situation coming they should terminate the case or refer it to a person who is able to deal with it in a competent manner.

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Goldenberg, I., &Goldenberg, H. (2007). Family therapy: an overview. Kentucky: Cengage Learning

Jones, R. L., & Colin, P. C. (1980).Social work with adolescents. London: Routledge.

Ballou, M. B. (1995). Psychological interventions: a guide to strategies. West Port: Greenwood Publishing Group

Ryan, M. (n.d). A short description on Client-Centered Therapy. 2010. Web.

Sandoval, J. (2002).Handbook of crisis counseling, intervention, and prevention in the schools. 2nd Ed. New Jersey: Routledge.

Smith, R. L., & Stevens-Smith, P. (1992). Basic Techniques in Marriage and Family Counseling and Therapy. ERIC Digest. Web.

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