The 3 Phases of Family Therapy With Teens
It's important that the family be involved in the teens therapy journey. Parents can learn the skills and tools that the teen is learning and help reinforce those in the home.
There are always things that we as parents may tweak just a bit to help the teen succeed in in therapy. In order for the teen to sustain the changes they make, the parents also need to be willing to make some adjustments.
We find that most parents are on board and understand that there are things they may be able to do differently to help. When this is the case, we have all the ingredient for success.
But those teens and families who have not had family therapy before may not know what to expect. Below are the phases of family therapy that we find most often.
Phase One: The Bumpy Ride
Early on, family therapy can be challenging. Often, parents are working hard to help the teen through their emotional or behavioral struggles before coming to therapy. At times, parents reach out to a therapist after all efforts have not been successful and the struggle continues.
During the period of time where parents are doing their all, there can be hurt on both sides. The parents may feel hurt by actions by the teen and the teen may feel hurt by actions of the parents. Whether it is simply perceived or real, the hurt has been done.
When hurt is involved, trust is usually the first thing that goes. Once trust is not present, meaningful communication is eroded. This leads to teens closing off and not talking about their struggles with their parents. This can also lead to the parents selectively choosing what they talk to their teen about.
As this can be the case, the first 1 to 5-6 sessions of family therapy can be a bumpy ride. In family therapy, we talk about those things that may have caused the teen and parents to experience hurt. We explore the erosion of trust gain that trust back.
The energy in these first few sessions can be high. Emotions can be evoked due to the topics being discussed. Yet, it is an important phase to help the teen and the parents begin to establish trust with each other. Once trust is established, even if it's in small amounts at first, a foundation can laid on which future family therapy sessions are built.
Phase Two: Repairing the Car While Driving
At the end of phase one, teens and parents are having meaningful discussions. They are talking and listening to one another and the teen and parents are making small changes that show the other each are trying.
Though we have made it through the bumpy ride. Some trust has been re-established, meaningful communication is being had, the teen is listening to the parents and the parents to the teen. With this foundation, we start to explore the core struggles.
The teen may have struggles that they have not shared with their parents. With the foundation from Phase One, teens generally start to share these things with their parents. This helps the parents understand what they have observed and pieces generally start to fall in place for them.
The parents also get to share the struggles they have had and how it has affected them. They can also share expectations and both the teen and parents explore these expectations. In most cases, parents are reasonable and are willing to work with the teen in setting expectations.
When this occurs and the teen observes this from their parents, they too are usually willing to give a little to improve the relationship.
By the end of Phase Two, we see trust developed to a significant degree. The hurt that has been generated has been explored, understood, and resolved. A pathway forward has been identified, agreed upon, and the teen and family are walking the path together.
Phase Three: Cruise Control
Don't let the title of Phase Three fool you. Significant progress has been made in Phase One and Phase Two for sure. We have gone from little to no trust to a significant and still growing amount of trust. There is still a little anxiety about whether the progress made will continue but the teen and parents continue to drive down the road together.
Phase Three is about implementation, exploration, and revision. With trust regained to a significant degree, the hurts of the past resolved, and a plan moving forward, we now put in place that plan. Each family therapy session in Phase Three is spent talking about what went well that week regarding the plan and what did not go so well.
We first celebrate what went well and talk about this for a period of time. It's important to celebrate the wins after the long road that the teen and family have been down.
We then explore the 'not so well' part. We get to hear from the teen their perspective while the parent's listen. The parent can respond and the teen gets to listen to the parents and hear their perspective. Together, with the guidance of the family therapist, the teen and parents refine the plan and give it a go during the next week.
The following week we return and repeat the process over again. At the end of Phase Three, the teen and parents feel that the changes the other has made has been internalized. This gives confidence to both teen and parents that the progress will continue.
Both have learned skills and tools along the way by this point that if the family relationships start breaking down again, they can usually fix it on their own. There are times where families come back for tune ups, but it's not the major fix that was required before.
Begin Family Therapy at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC: Proudly Serving the Katy, Texas & Houston Area
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we specialize in teen therapy and family counseling. With a combined 35 years’ experience in teen therapy and family counseling, we can help your family achieve the results you are looking for.
If you are ready to start the healing journey, you can follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC
Meet with one of our family therapy specialists
Start the process of restoring hope, happiness, and connected family relationships
Other Teen Therapy & Family Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling:
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide those teen counseling and family therapy approaches that are supported by research. Below are the other therapeutic services that we offer in Katy, Texas and for the Houston area:
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy) For:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) For:
How to Begin Teen Therapy or Family Counseling
To begin teen therapy or family counseling, simply contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling through our website or by calling 346-202-4662. Our Owner and Lead Clinician answers each phone to ensure that you are matched with the teen therapist and family counselor who will best meet your needs.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker. He is a Specialist in Teen Therapy & Family Counseling. He has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003. Through his expertise, he helps teens who struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD/ADD, and PTSD. He works with talented teen athletes who have experience mental blocks. Gifted students have unique challenges that Jason understands well. Jason uses CBT, EMDR, Neurofeedback, FFT, and Motivational Interviewing. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we only work with teens and families which allows us to focus on what teens and families of today need. Resolving the struggles of today can assure a more successful tomorrow. Proudly serving Katy, Tx and Houston.