Ames Laws

Psychotherapy for Adolescents

I work with adolescents (ages 13 and up) on a range of issues.

Before seeing an adolescent I meet with parents for an initial interview. The purpose of this session is to learn of current concerns, general history, and parental goals; to discuss clinical, logistical, financial, and insurance-related questions; to review necessary paperwork and obtain consent for treatment; and to make a preliminary decision as to whether or not to proceed with scheduling an appointment for the teenager.

The interview with the adolescent is intended to be as relaxed as possible. This is an initial meeting during which the young person shares his/her concerns, history, and goals for therapy. I attempt to answer questions about therapy, confidentiality, logistics, and any other issues of uncertainty or interest. If the teenager and parents choose to proceed with me, I will make a preliminary recommendation regarding individual or conjoint work for the next appointment.

Therapy with an adolescent includes parental involvement. Each situation is unique, so I do not assume a "one size fits all" approach. In general, the younger the teenager, the more central to the work the parents are. With older adolescents, there is usually some increased autonomy, though I continue to meet with parents at some level. Generally, I do not divide a single session between time with the young person and time with parents. Depending on the presented issues, goals, and dynamics as therapy unfolds, sessions may be individual, conjoint, or collateral in nature. Therapy with adolescents and their parents may employ verbal and nonverbal modalities.

I thank E.W. for the following useful questions in considering and focusing the work with adolescents and their families: "Who is my client? What is my role?"