THERAPY WITH ADOLESCENTS

For over twenty-five years Dr. Wilgus has worked with adolescents, aged thirteen and up, along with their families.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Some teenagers really know when they need help and ask to see a psychologist. Those teenagers are not the norm however. Most of the time parents have to encourage or even insist that an adolescent consult with a psychologist. This is especially true after an alarming event has occurred such as a significant blow up at home, school problems, evidence of substance use or just a long period of unhappiness or irritability. In these situations parents are often concerned about their own role in how to help their teenager. Adolescents’ resistance to therapy is usually based in a lack of trust that seeing a psychologist would be of any help or, worse, that this professional would simply be an extension of their parents attempts to influence or control them.

Adolescent therapy with Dr. Wilgus begins with an initial evaluation to determine what, if any, therapy is required. This first session lasts 90 minutes and includes the teenager and his or her parents. Treatment of adolescents is usually problem-focused and short term. Although occasionally helpful, there is rarely a need for teenagers to be in therapy over a long period of months or years. Typically plans for improvement are initiated by the adolescent and/or parents within the first few sessions. As problem behavior subsides, sessions are spaced out over longer periods to ensure long term success and then terminated by agreement among all parties.

Teenagers are too old to be forced to participate in psychological therapy that they continue to resist. While it is not inappropriate for parents to require an adolescent to attend at least an initial evaluation (especially after a scary event has occurred), teenagers need not fear they will be forced into long-term treatment. It is best for a psychologist to seek some level of agreement with an adolescent regarding how he or she might benefit from therapy, even if those goals differ significantly from the parents’ goals. When no goals can be found to connect a teenager to counseling, therapy usually progresses by consulting with parents alone to bring about the needed changes through more effective parenting.

Dr. Wilgus’ therapy with adolescents always involves parents and occasionally includes other family members. While this is certainly therapy for the whole family, it is not “family therapy” per se. Family therapy is an approach that focuses on the family unit as the “identified patient” rather than one particular family member. Teenagers generally dislike this approach to therapy and it is often ineffective. Dr. Wilgus’ therapy with adolescents includes regular consultation with parents and a great deal of encouraging better communication between parents and teenagers.


COMMON THERAPY ISSUES

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Conflict with Parents
  • Peer Relationship Problems
  • School & Learning Issues
  • Alcohol Abuse*
  • Drug Abuse*

Dr. Wilgus does not treat primary eating disorders or severe drug or alcohol dependence. Referrals to specialists can be provided.