Clergyman John Donne in 1642 relayed in a sermon that "No man is an island entire of itself". Clergyman Donne hit on systems theory way back in 1642.
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), our education and training focus on layers of a teen or young adult's experience. Our clinical education and training teaches us to take into account the systems in a teen or young adult's life.
We are all a part of a larger system that influences our thoughts, emotions, actions, and behaviors. This is where family therapy comes in when working with teens or young adults.
Teen Therapy, Young Adult Counseling, & Family Therapy: How It Fits
As a teen therapist and young adult counselor, I start off the first session meeting with the teen/young adult and their parent(s). It's important to me as a therapist that the teen or young adult know that their parents are a part of their therapeutic journey.
In that first session, I explain to the teen/young adult and their parents the typical course of therapy, the average length of time, and each of their roles in the therapeutic journey. I explain that while after this first session I will meet with the teen or young adult individually for a time, we will likely begin family therapy at some point in the process.
The reason being is that "no man or woman is an island" or in this case, no teen or young adult is an island. Teens and young adults live within a system that influences their thoughts, emotions, actions, and behaviors.
And vice versa. The teen or young adult also influences the thoughts, emotions, actions, and behaviors of the other family members. Often there is an opportunity to heal family relationships.
The Ingredients Needed for Successful Family Counseling
Family counseling with teens or young adults can be a powerful approach. There are ingredients needed in order to increase the chance that family counseling will be successful for you.
Willingness for Each Member of the Family to Make Changes
Because in a family we influence each others thoughts, emotions, actions, and behaviors, each of us has an opportunity to do something different. Those parents who are able to recognize areas in their parenting where they can do something different to support the teen or young adult's changes, more times than not, find success in family therapy.
The teen and the young adult also need to look at what they can do differently. It can't be a one sided effort and each individual in the family needs to be willing to make some changes.
Trust Through Actions
Of course, it's not enough to only recognize what each could do differently in the change process. There needs to be action. Both the parents and the teen or young adult need to know that they can trust what the other says. This comes through clear and consistent actions.
As the teen or young adult starts to take consistent action, the parent's feel more comfortable meeting them in the middle. The more the teen or young adult maintains trust through actions, the more trust they build with their parents, and the parents provide more freedoms and privileges.
Recognition That Change & Growth Are Not Linear
Behavior change is not linear. Once you start family therapy, you will start off taking 3 steps forward, then one step back. You keep working and take 8 steps forward and three steps back.
Over time, the steps back become fewer and further between. You will find yourselves taking many more steps forward until you have reached your goals.
Teens and young adults too need to recognize that once trust has been impacted, it's not built back on their time, but on the timeframe of the person with whom they lost that trust. Trust is easily kept, but takes a lot of time and effort to rebuild once lost -- and it is a process.
All of us have tried to break a behavioral habit. Whether it's dieting, quitting smoking, or watching less T.V. We also may have tried to implement a new behavior in our lives like exercising more, hydrating appropriately, or spending more time with the family.
If you have tried to break a behavioral habit or build and develop a new one, you know that it's a challenging process. I've been trying to exercise more regularly. My goal is 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.
In the beginning I was doing great. Yet, this is a new behavior and like all behavior change, there can be some slip ups. Some mornings, the mattress simply would not let me up and I didn't exercise that day.
It would be easy to view that as a failure and to be able to say, "I knew that would happen, this isn't going to work". Yet knowing behavior change takes this non-linear route, I was able to recommit and am winning the mattress battle more days than not -- and improving.
The changes that you will make as a family involves both the trust to take that next step plus the recognition that mistakes will happen -- and continue to move forward. Be patient with the process, if there are slip ups and mistakes, talk about them with your family therapist. The bottom line is get back up and keep taking that next right step in change. Together as a family, you can accomplish what at one point seemed to be the impossible!
Katy Teen & Family Counseling: 50+ Years Combined Experience in Family Therapy in Katy, Tx & Houston
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we have a combined 50+ years of family therapy experience. Our teen counselors and young adult therapists can help your family build back hope, happiness, and connected family relationships.
If you are ready to begin your family counseling journey, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Speak with one of our caring therapists
Begin the healing process in your family relationships
Other Therapy & Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we use therapy and counseling approaches that are supported by research. These approaches have been shown to work in the shortest amount of time.
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
We also provide couples counseling and marriage therapy as, sometimes, parenting a struggling teen can create relationship strain. A stronger relationship between the parents creates stronger family relationships and greater chances for teen success.
Parenting counseling for teen success
Parent counseling for support managing blended families with teens
Co-parenting counseling for divorced parents for teen success
Couples counseling for communication improvement
Couples counseling to improve trust in the relationship
Couples counseling to address infidelity and unfaithfulness
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker. He specializes in teen therapy, family counseling, and counseling young adults. He has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003.
Jason is also a regular contributor to various magazines and publications lending his expertise to various mental health related topics. You can check these articles out on our "Featured Articles" service page on our website.