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Hints on Teen Therapy

October 18, 1987

I read Pamela Cantor's article on "Family Approach to Therapy for Son" (Oct. 11) with interest. As a high school counselor, I am frequently in the position of having to encourage a teen-ager and his family to go for professional counseling. Her suggestions for getting the youngster to agree to treatment are very good. I'd like to add a few more tactics that have worked for me:

--Tell the teen-ager that his problem is a family problem, and that the whole family will be going. Insist that the parents agree to go, too, thus avoiding a "you fix the kid" focus.

--Point out that this will be a chance to have a counselor listen to the teen's point of view. This may be one of the first times that the teen will have the floor with no interruption. Explain that the counselor is a child advocate and may even take his side at times.

--Get the teen to agree to go one time. If he feels he doesn't click with the counselor, promise to give him some other "child-friendly" names.

--As a parting shot, tell him "Remember, it's OK to do something like this for yourself, even if your parents and I approve of it." (This usually gets a smile.)

SUSAN KAUTH

Newport Beach

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