Why Today’s Teens Look for the Therapist’s Opinion

How Feedback Makes Young Clients Feel Valued

Rich Simon

Between the 24-hour news cycle, search engines, and face-to-face video chats, we live in an Age of Information, in which getting your questions answered is little more than a mouse click away. So is it any surprise that today’s young adults expect the same directness and immediate responsiveness from their therapists? According to Ron Taffel, adolescent therapist and author of Breaking Through to Teens, today’s youth look for concrete answers to their questions and problems in therapy. And they want them fast. Often you need to toss emotionless method-driven therapy to the wind, says Ron, and give young clients what they want: your honest opinion.




On some level, we all give advice, and if done skillfully, that can be good for our young clients, says Ron. In this brief video clip, he talks about how “21st-century kids are not afraid of your opinion. In a Victorian, authoritarian age you wanted to be Rogerian and hold back your opinion. Today, not so.” By avoiding rote questions like, “how does that make you feel?” and offering real back-and-forth conversation, we become more credible with our adolescent clients because we seem less formal and more human. The therapist, in effect, becomes a well-informed ally.

“We talk a great deal about the importance of relationship and connection in therapy—the ‘therapeutic alliance,’” says Taffel in this  Networker feature. “But what this really comes down to is the everyday miracle we call conversation: the unscripted exchanges we treasure in our own friendships and intimate relationships.”

In the Networker Webcast series A New Road Map for Working with Kids and Teens, Ron offers tips for connecting with young clients by being more conversational, less guided by formal methods, and more comfortable with your own authentic self.


A New Roadmap for Working with Kids and Teens:
Getting Through to Today's Distracted Youth

Click here for full course details

Topic: Children/Adolescents

Tags: conversation | kids | relationships | Ron Taffel | teens | therapist | therapists | therapy

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1 Comment

Monday, July 7, 2014 2:49:23 PM | posted by JOHN BURIK
Bravo! My own graduate education used to drive me nuts with all the non-directive thrust. People come to therapy for expertise and experience. I provide that for them in a respectful fashion, owning my opinion.