Connecting with today’s youth doesn’t mean being able to recite Justin Bieber’s latest hit. According to Janet Edgette, author of Adolescent Therapy That Really Works, it takes authenticity, perspective, and knowing how to make kids feel like they’re being listened to and respected.
In her 25 years as an adolescent therapist, Janet has seen her fair share of folded arms, rolled eyes, and the occasional stormy exit. In this brief video clip, she offers tips for approaching young clients who are apprehensive about therapy. The secret, she says, is avoiding questions that seem by the book and impersonal—the kneejerk “how does that make you feel?” approach. “Feelings are important,” Janet says, “but I think if we can get to kids directly without asking ‘how do you feel about that?’ we’re going to be more likely to keep the conversation going.”
In the Networker Webcast series A New Road Map for Working with Kids and Teens, Janet shares what she’s learned about getting through to tight-lipped, emotionally volatile, or provocative clients. “We already know some of the things kids don't respond well to in therapy—excessive questioning and standardized treatment protocols included,” writes Janet in her Networker feature. “So let's stop using them. What do they want? Your active, authentic, and respectful relating, direct feedback, and advice.”