Building relationships with therapists based on openness, trust, and collaboration is more important for young people than the type of therapy they receive. While it takes time to feel comfortable opening up to a new therapist, residential programs offer many opportunities for teens to strengthen their relationship with their therapist outside of therapy sessions. With a small caseload, therapists have more time to check-in with students, lead groups, participate in recreation activities, and even eat meals together.
Problems with Authority Figures
It is not uncommon for teenage boys to have problems trusting authority figures at home and in the classroom, especially if they struggle with ADHD, learning differences, or anger management issues. As they enter adolescence, they are confident that they are capable of being their own authority figure and tend to push people away who want to step in and help in any way. The narrative that men should be strong, in control of their own emotions, and independent at a young age reinforces the idea that they don’t need help, which would be a sign of weakness.
Some origins of problems with authority figures may include:
- Wanting to be independent
- Wanting to make their own decisions without input
- Not liking rules or the rigidity of them
- Difficulty adjusting to someone else’s routine and expectations
- Expecting negative interactions based on a “social hierarchy”
- Not believing that kindness or support is authentic
- Difficulty trusting others or talking about emotions
- History of social rejection, arguments with parents, unsupportive teachers
Many therapists emphasize the importance of a client-centered approach. While they may ask questions and offer advice when prompted, their goal is to make teens feel comfortable talking to them. Teens appreciate having a space where someone will listen to how they’re feeling without judging their negative emotions or reactions. In a residential setting, teens are able to spend more time getting to know their therapist as a person, rather than just as a professional. This helps them overcome their fear of authority figures and understand that therapists have their best intentions in mind. While an outpatient therapist gets to know kids through what they tell them, therapists in residential programs learn more about teens’ unique strengths, needs, and goals by observing their behavior outside sessions and are better able to help them address issues they face.
Ways Your Son Can Strengthen his Relationship with His Therapist:
- Outline his personal treatment goals. The goal of therapy is for teens to play an active role in deciding what they want out of it. While therapists have years of experience helping other people, they understand that every teen is different. In order for sessions to be beneficial, therapists come up with personalized treatment plans and encourage your son to offer input.
- Talk about relationship patterns. Understanding how he shows up in other relationships may help him and his therapist understand how he relates to her. He may seem withdrawn or defensive, but these attitudes may stem from reservations about opening up based on past negative experiences with other people.
- Be direct about concerns. Therapists appreciate honest feedback when people are assertive. When teens express what they need in a relationship, therapists understand how to accommodate them better.
- Talk about shared values or interests. While boundaries are necessary in relationships with therapists, forming a friendship beyond the professional role they play in your life helps develop a meaningful relationship.
Equinox Can Help
Equinox RTC is a residential treatment center that helps young boys ages 14-18 who struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, and addictive behaviors. Equinox offers a unique treatment program designed to fit each individual’s specific needs. We strive to help students develop healthy habits and lead themselves back onto a path of success through meaningful therapy and a nurturing environment. We help teens work towards building accountability, respect, and a solution-oriented approach to solving their challenges. As a relationship-based program, we encourage students to develop vulnerability and trust within the community and with their families.
Contact us at 877-279-8925. We can help your family today!