Over 25 years of working with adolescents has taught me much about patience, humility, improvisation and the importance of parents in the process. It has also left me with great admiration for the struggles and resilience of teenagers and their parents.
Many years ago, my mentor said to me that teenagers need to be able to tell their story while in counseling. He emphasized that this was perhaps the most important part of the job. But equally important I believe is the second part of the job. And that is to allow the parents to tell theirs. The final part of the process is to facilitate the reconciliation of the two narratives. It may be surprising to learn that at this point, I almost always find that the teenagers and their parents share the same goal. For the adolescent, it is to achieve success and make the parents proud. For the parents, it is to see their child succeed and be proud.
A quick mention about my style. I am very direct and I emphasize accountability and personal responsibility. Oddly I have found that teenagers appreciate this.