Teenagers become more responsible by learning to balance the demands of the outer world—family stresses, school pressures, peer influences, mixed cultural messages about femininity and masculinity—and their inner life. Through adolescence they have the potential to develop new capacities for thinking, feeling and taking action. With humor, a deep sense of vulnerability and a wide range of professional and personal experience, I offer a whole-hearted relationship in a neutral space where teen boys can begin to understand themselves by learning to express and experience their whole life.
•Passage from boyhood to manhood: For a teenage boy the years between 13 and 21 are a time of tremendous change, physically, emotionally, socially, existentially and spiritually. Instability and insecurity for parents and their teen children are a natural part of this transition. I support boys and their families through these changes as a guide shepherding self-expression, creativity, mindfulness, self-understanding, feelings of belonging and connectedness.
•Self-expression and creativity: Often unable to find words for experience, teens can feel depressed, angry, sad, isolated. For boys, they learn from our culture that being different and expressing feelings aren’t manly. In our work together, your son will learn to express himself uniquely, give voice to his thoughts, feelings, images, dreams and wishes. I help facilitate expression through photography and writing exercises and conversation aimed at helping teens land in the truth of their experience.
•Mindfulness: I help boys and girls bring awareness to their mind and bodies, to help them develop greater attention, recognize thought patterns (including negative and catastrophic thinking) and help them began to recognize and name bodily sensations and feelings.
•Balancing thinking, feeling, desire and impulse: Learning to be thoughtful and in touch with feelings happens over the course of adolescent development. Through supportive dialogue, positive reflection, mindfulness and creative use of writing and photography, I help teens integrate their thoughts, feelings and desires in relationship to the decisions they make.
•Privacy and withdrawing: Around the age of 12 and 13, teens begin to turn inward. The need for privacy and to withdraw becomes important, precisely because teens are beginning to differentiate themselves from parents and others, figuring out what they like and don’t like. Teens need to feel like they have space, meaning that they have space in relationship to others to discover who they uniquely are. As a therapist I respect the inner life of each client, both adults and teens, and support needs for privacy.
•Separation & Becoming a unique self: During adolescence, boys and girls, begin to want to spend more time with friends. Teen boys in particular have a need to begin to separate from their mothers as they begin to take the first steps toward becoming individuated, responsible young men. Usually, there’s a desire to connect with fathers or other male figures and mentors, seeking guidance in the outer world. Throughout this period teens continue to need support from both parents, even as they push for it in ways that can be confusing and frustrating for parents. In our work together teenagers will begin to discover who they are, what they feel and need as individuals, while experimenting with how to stay securely bonded, connected to friends and family.
•Self-confidence: Self-confidence in adolescence comes through accepting a whole range of thoughts, feelings and desires, while having the space to learn to express the truth of their experience. Strengthening their sense of self in relationship to others makes it more possible for boys to take responsibility for their decisions. This happens over time in a secure therapeutic relationship by gradually giving more expression to thoughts and feelings, while receiving consistent recognition of strengths, abilities and gifts.
•Belonging & Connectedness: All teens have a strong need for belonging to something bigger than themselves, i.e. a family, community, to a particular tradition, anywhere that relationships endure and offer continuity. Boys can often feel isolated and alienated when they don’t feel it’s safe or possible to connect with those around them. Being available as a human being for connection with my clients is the most important work I do as a therapist.
•Respecting others & developing empathy: Teens begin to respect others by first seeing into and accepting their inner processes as valid and true. Understanding that they have a unique perspective, they also begin to recognize and take the perspective of others.
•Developing new relationships with family: By exploring new ways of connecting with me in therapy, your son or daughter will learn new ways of being in relationship. A therapeutic relationship sustained over time helps teens learn the value of committing to meaningful relationships, where they learn to empathize with others and feel confident to be themselves. When appropriate and necessary you may be asked to join your son or daughter in therapy to work on finding new ways of communicating and being together.