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Meet Me Half Way: 10 Tips for Teens in Therapy

I had recently become aggravated with a client with whom I had been working for months…

 She complained that she wasn’t making progress, that she wanted to make friends, become more confident and get out of the house.  So I suggested that my young adult group would be the perfect, no-risk opportunity.  We went over that it’s ok to be anxious and that everyone is very welcoming and all in the same boat.  After months, she got up the nerve to commit to coming.  Her boyfriend was going to drive her.  Ten minutes beforehand she said she couldn’t make it because she had a breakout on her face and was embarrassed.  This girl also would not commit to starting a kick-boxing class if she had to go alone.  I really checked myself that I wasn’t misunderstanding whether her depression was crippling and paralyzing her. I tried to slow down and give her step by step exposure to social situations, and build up to it.  I was upset.  I thought, you have to meet me half way.  You can’t complain you’re not making progress if you don’t try. But I have learned from readers’ feedback that lack of motivation is part and parcel of depression.  Indeed, it is the hallmark of depression.  (Add smoking weed every day and you have the perfect storm).

Another young adult said she needed help with her relationship.  We had gone over a list of things she was going to try at home, to carry over from the therapy.  Week after week she said things were bad with her partner.  I said, did you try the things we spoke about?  She said no.  So how can you expect it to change if you do nothing?  She looked at me hopeless and helpless and said, I don’t know.  This pattern of helplessness is another hallmark of depression. Throwing your hands up and blaming others doesn’t work anymore but you don’t know what to do instead.  Here are some more things to try.  I am not saying these things are a guarantee of anything.  I’m not saying that I am always perfectly motivated.

But it’s worth a try, no?

1. get out of bed
2. get a regular sleep schedule
3. volunteer
4. if you can’t drive and you’re in the burbs, learn the bus schedule so you can get out
5. go to a therapy group
6. follow therapist’s recommendations
7. don’t lie to your therapist; you are lying to yourself
8. lose the excuses
9. read a book
10. start a creative or spiritual practice

This is what one young teen said about trying out mindfulness,

If this makes sense to you then it’s yours for free.  Just sit with it.  Don’t judge or be judged.  Be you.  I told this to my patient.  She said she would try.  But first, she said, I’m going day-drinking with my friends…

Meet Me Half Way: 10 Tips for Teens in Therapy

Donna C. Moss

You can learn more about Donna's work at her personal website.

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APA Reference
Moss, D. (2017). Meet Me Half Way: 10 Tips for Teens in Therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 24, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/sext-text/2017/07/meet-me-half-way-10-tips-for-teens-in-therapy/


Last updated: 20 Jul 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Jul 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.