Adolescent counselling and family therapy: How to support vulnerable young people

Adolescent counselling and family therapy: How to support vulnerable young people

– interview with psychologist from Sydney
– family therapy can be a powerful form of therapy
– adolescence is time of great change & uncertainty; also there is re-wiring of the brain occurring as part of maturation [neurological implications]
– the prefrontal cortex (planning, judgment, decision-making) – time when it “comes online” & begins to moderate the emotional brain (so they can think & feel at the same time
– dopamine baseline is low
– novelty-seeking/risk-taking to get same level of dopamine as before (adults – no)
– moody, irritability, restlessness
– passionate responses
– need for social connection
– fundamentail change in the architecture of the problem

– most common problems/issues she has seen
– as a result of integration of rational/emotional brains
– conflict: power dynamics with adults
– want to be treated as an adult
– risk-taking; moodiness; experimental drug-taking
– impulsivity in behaviour
– experimentation with AOD use
– who am I in the world? Who will I be? Who will I be connected to?
– bullying | social isolation – inability to belong/be connected
– self-harm, suicidal ideation

The environment can impair integration
– family violence, abuse, lack of boundaries
– anxiety; depression; conflict with parents
– the context is unique
– structure, safety, the need for boundaries has brain architecture implications
– stress hormone implications
– adolescents are still not fully capable of coming up with coping strategies under complex situations involving intense emotions
– skills to soothe themselves
– structure in family so brain does not become flooded with cortisol

– everything is more intense
– everything can feel like it is now or never
– you do not want me to be happy – the thing is: this is exactly how they feel

– she believes it is hugely Important to involve the family [she often wants to talk to the parents first]
– she reminds parents they are the parent
– that she is an outsider – she is not
– that there are no “fixing” the child
– work is about strengthening their resources
– she communicates to the young person that they are not the problem, but that the lung person is part of a wide, more holistic approach
– how the parents can support the young person
– she offers support to everybody, including for those still interested in therapy where others are not
– it is highly unlikely that the family environment is not unimportant
– educate parents about the changes involved in adolescence
– to realise when to back off
– ethics of good practice – that the young person is supported within boundaries of confidentiality
– she likes to work with the whole system (when everyone will engage)
– challenges – one person wants to change/is motivated, while another person may not (& this creates complexity & conflict)

Technology/social media
– teenagers are immersed in it
– discrepancy between immersion of adolescents & adults
– are issues developing online unknown to parents (or it can take a while – even months – for parents to become aware there is an issue)
– first signs of such problems
– conflict / arguments with parents
– moodiness
– irritability / not appearing to be themselves
– parents look at the adolescent’s online content (with or without permission)
– sexting – legal ages

Cyber-bullying – tell-tale signs
– sudden unexplained change in behaviour
– upset
– a conversation needs to take place

– systems theory provides a framework for her working
– Parramatta RAPS program
– Dan Siegal – Parenting from the Inside Out

– spoke about different levels of success

– education about child development, brain development
Source: Australia Counselling Podcast | 20 August 2014


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