Counseling And Therapy For Troubled Youth – How To Make Them Think That They Need It Part 2


If you haven’t read the Part One of this blog, then I suggest that you start with that to get an understanding of what the whole idea is all about. For those who have already read Part 1 or don’t have the time to do it, I hope you enjoy and learn a thing or two from this article.


Assisting Mental Health Counselors – Part 2


As already said in Part 1 of this blog, counseling troubled teenagers is not an easy task. Why? Well, the main reason is that teenagers are stubborn and hard-headed. They think that they are on top of everything and won’t listen to anyone, not even their parents. It’s the reason why they are troubled in the first place; you understand that, right?


So what makes you assume that they will listen to you for the whole hour that you’re supposedly helping him or her? It’s tough luck, really, but then again, this blog is all about making them think that they need therapy. And you, their counselor (or their parent), can employ ways on how to handle their headstrong minds. 


Three Creative Methods For Influencing Teenagers To Partake In Counseling/Therapy


All in all, there are five techniques recommended by Elisabeth D. Bennett and her team of experts from Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. They are the same professionals who manage the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Department of the university. 


Anyway, the first two ways mentioned in their study were Breathing Room and Talk Meter. These two compose Part 1. 


For Part 2, these three methods are explained further: Music, The Paper Bag Story, and Social Media Profile. Learning about these techniques can help you, their counselor and the parents as well, in reaching out to the teenager and helping them to improve themselves. 




Listening to music, however loud it is, can help the teenager process their repressed feelings. Have you noticed that the millennials are always raving about this singer or that song? Well, if you can’t beat them, join them! Set aside a session where the two of you can listen to music. You’d be surprised that after a few songs, the teenager will be responsive to your inquiries. 


First, you need to acknowledge the fact that opening up to new people and building trust is difficult. It may also be awkward and uncomfortable at first. The teenager must understand that you are an empathic and considerate person. And since he or she is a music lover, you can both listen to music while in session. 


The music that you will be playing must be the choice of the teenager, of course. If he says NO initially, find a way to “change” his or her mind. Equip your Breathing Room with several music genres and singers or bands. 


After listening together, start the talking and therapy.


The Paper Bag Story


You will need brown paper bags of medium size (not too big and not too small), art and craft materials, scissors, glue and the likes. These items are for therapy purposes. Let the teenager tell you his or her story through the brown paper bags by making a collage. If the teenager has difficulty in reaching out, then this story-telling type of therapy can help. 


(Telling a story through the bags can improve the teen’s ability to organize his cognitive function, as well as enhance his creative skills. He will also strengthen his way of accepting new facts and realities in life.)

For more details on how to do this technique, read this pdf file.


Social Media Profile


One technique to connect with a disengaged teenager is by using Social Media Profile. Let the client know that you, the counselor, will be honored to open his social media pages and view them. From there, you will have an idea on how to reach and appeal to the minds of these troubled youngsters. 

With that, you have to create a Social Media Profile copy. On top of the page is the name of the teen. The cover photo portion is a drawing created by the teenager-client, and the idea is to generate a LIFE PATH. Ask the teen to draw or write how his future looks like, in his design. 


After that, put his 2×2 picture, complete with birthday, Astro sign, place of birth/place of residence, and school attended. Next is the description space. The first item is HOW I SEE MYSELF and the second item is HOW OTHERS SEE ME. 


The profile must also include a short list of people whom the teenager feels is supportive of him or her. Lastly, there must be an ACCOMPLISHMENT space – What did I accomplish this year?


Bottom Line


These methods are out of the box, indeed. They’re uncommon, and they’re interactive. If you ask Ms. Bennett, her techniques can help bring out the real emotions of a “trouble” kid. From there, it is possible to heal and become a well-rounded adult.

Counseling And Therapy For Troubled Youth – How To Make Them Think That They Need It Part 1


Assisting Mental Health Counselors


To counsel trouble teenagers is a tough challenge for mental health counselors. One just cannot impose the regular and traditional psychotherapy or talk therapy techniques on these kids. They lack trust and will not ever participate in such meetings. There will be a communication barrier, for sure, and there’s the age difference. Like it or not, older people may have forgotten how it is to be a rebellious teen and will try to maintain that “I-am-the-adult-counselor-here” act.


Two Creative Techniques For Urging Teens To Participate In Counseling


Elisabeth D. Bennett, a distinguished professor from Gonzaga University who also happens to be a Program Director for Clinical Mental Health Counseling of the same institution, provided five techniques that can soften your hardened and troubled teenager. 


The good professor has more than three decades of work experience in connection with teenagers and adolescents. As for the techniques, there will be a mention of it here; she formulated these two techniques together with her team of experts. Everyone came from the Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Gonzaga University, and the said university is at SPOKANE, WA.


Anyway, Professor Bennett and her team revealed that if you want to get through to your patient (and this is also applicable for parents who have kids who are a bit hard-headed and stubborn), listen and apply the techniques as discussed below. 


How can you efficiently help a troubled teenager? Normal one-on-one conversation, at first, won’t work. You need something creative to interest the youngster’s mind. And what are these creative avenues you’re talking about, you ask, right?


Breathing Room


These teenagers need a breathing room, a place where they will feel safe and secure, and a haven of comfort. If your office is boxy, unappealing, with white walls and big chairs, very non-homey atmosphere, it is highly likely that you won’t get anything out of your teen client. They won’t budge when you welcome them with pleasantries, either. Teenagers are complicated!


So what can you do? Make your office conducive to a place of comfort for teenagers specifically. Of course, you the counselor must also feel secure in that setting. After that, build the connection. Recognize that connecting with your client is a challenging thing to do for the both of you. Be verbal about that. You must also validate with the teen client that counseling is not a one-time deal or a rush kind of program. Building the trust and healing will take time. 


Ask the client what will make him, or she feel good – anything goes! Singing, dancing, game playing, talking or whatever; the client has to do this every session to improve the mood. When the walls are down, go in and conquer the client’s need for counseling. Lastly, end the meeting with – Can we do this again next week? If the client agrees, then, you’re a competent counselor.


Talk Meter


Some teenagers don’t know how to express their feelings in words. They don’t know how to address their primary problem just yet. And so the Talk Meter technique is introduced. There is a thermometer with meters that says – NOT READY TO TALK, WANT TO TALK, A LITTLE UNCOMFORTABLE TO TALK and so on.


First, reassure the client that he or she is not forced to talk, but it would be a significant improvement if he or she will be ready to communicate. Next, tell the teen that you can talk about anything under the sun – good things, great things, bad things, and the worst things. If they are not yet ready to talk about the negative stuff, then, make that assurance that it is ok until such time when they can do it. 


Tell the client to engage in his readiness by coloring the thermometer or pointing as to his capacity to open up for now. Brainstorm together on ways to increase their willingness to talk, break barriers, and promote openness. Compliment the client for being open and inspire him to do more self-assessment. After the brainstorming, do the thing together. Reflect on its results, find ways to comfort and ease the mind of the teenager.




There are just two of the out of the box techniques shared by Professor Bennett’s team. There are three more techniques which will be featured in Counseling And Therapy For Troubled Youth – How To Make Them Think That They Need It Part 2. Hopefully, Breathing Room and Talk Meter techniques will assist you in curbing the teen’s bad behavior so that he or she will think to change for the better. As for parents, you can talk to your teen’s mental health counselor about these two effective techniques.