It can be difficult for adolescents who are mandated to therapy to engage in session. This can be for several reasons, such as the nature of why the client is mandated, which for adolescent males can be due to probation or other juvenile issues. Therefore, a lot of the time these clients will not be willing initially to collaborate in therapy, because of norms that come with “the code of the street”, such as being “rigid and masculine”, and not showing emotion. However, most of the time, these teenagers have a history of distrust in other adults, which leads them to questioning placing trust in other adults, such as therapists. Today, many therapist’s do not adapt their therapeutic style to meet the needs of this population, which leads to their disengagement. It is critical for psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists to understand this population and tailor their therapeutic style to their needs, so that the client can be successful in treatment.
Here are some helpful tips for mandated teenage males in therapy:
o Validating their past and their “toughness”
o Having a session to just talk about the client’s interests, experiences.
o Rolling with resistance
o Adapting your therapeutic style to meet the needs of the client
o Using humor in session
o Channeling competitive behavior
If you are a parent or caregiver of a child who is mandated to psychological treatment, there are many resources available to assist in the process of support and problem-solving for you and your child, including professional counseling. Call (215) 487-1330 or email us at Greenridge@intercommunityaction.org for more information about our counseling services, which include one-on-one therapy with a trained clinician.
Author: Kelsey Dailey, M.A.