VIDEO: Helping Teen Clients Make Good Decisions

...And What to Do When They Talk About Risky Behavior

Are teen clients entitled to confidentiality? How should therapists discuss confidentiality with their teen clients? What’s the therapist’s role when a teen client tells them they’re going to do something risky—say, sneak out of the house, use drugs or alcohol, or engage in unsafe sex?

Here, therapist Britt Rathbone, who’s spent almost his entire career working with adolescents and teens, gives us the answers, and explains how therapists can teach these clients skills that improve judgment and self-control.

“Indeed, teens are all too familiar with adults reacting emotionally and have a repertoire of well-rehearsed responses of their own to shut them out,” Rathbone writes in his Networker article. “But a calm and curious response is often so unexpected that it quickly engages them in an open discussion.”

Britt Rathbone

Britt Rathbone, LCSW-C, ACSW, BCD, CGP, provides mental health services to adolescents and their families in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He has 30 years of experience working directly with adolescents and families, is a “top therapist” for adolescents, teaches graduate students, trains therapists and leads a highly regarded and successful clinical practice. He lectures often on the value of DBT with young people. He is a dynamic and passionate speaker and his trainings consistently receive the highest ratings. He is the co-author of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for At-Risk Adolescents, What Works With Teens: A Professional’s Guide to Engaging Authentically with Adolescents to Achieve Lasting Change, and Parenting a Teen Who Has Intense Emotions (to be published by New Harbinger in January 2016).

Lauren Dockett

Lauren Dockett, MS, is the senior writer at Psychotherapy Networker. A longtime journalist, journalism lecturer, and book and magazine editor, she’s also a former caseworker taken with the complexity of mental health, who finds the ongoing evolution of the therapy field and its broadening reach an engrossing story. Prior to the Networker, she contributed to many outlets, including The Washington Post, NPR, and Salon. Her books include Facing 30, Sex Talk, and The Deepest Blue. Visit her website at