Proactive Versus Reactive: The Pitfalls of Finding Help For Your Adolescent

by Beth Reese, LPC, HCom

My career as a family therapist (aka psychotherapist) started back when parents could receive help proactively from the Division of Family Services. I worked with stressed out single mothers with limited resource face the daily pressures of meeting the many needs of their children. I taught parenting skills and about the importance of self-care for care providers. However, as the State budget got tighter and tighter, funding was reserved for the neediest cases and, eventually, mostly crisis situations. Interventions became almost totally reactive.

Now in private practice, the families I work with are struggling with their own tightening budgets and dwindling insurance benefits for the interventions and treatment they are able to locate. Parents are worried about their child’s emotional struggles or problematic school issues; they want to be proactive, but they don’t have the time (or the funds) to locate a professional with whom they feel comfortable. I have learned a lot in the years since that first job, and three things have held true throughout:

  1. Being a parent is a very difficult commitment under the best of circumstances;
  2. Adolescence is a difficult stage of life (even under the best circumstances); and
  3. The experience is different for EVERY parent and EVERY adolescent…no two people react to the stressors of life the same way.

So now we know the problem; the solution is to locate a professional who treats every child, parent and/or family as unique. This is the hallmark of my private practice. Every person deserves to be treated respectfully and appreciated for the unique individual they are, regardless of the struggles they are trying to manage at the time. I don’t use the “f-word” (fault) because nobody lives in a vacuum, meaning who we are and how we react is impacted by our interactions with other people, especially our family. While encouraging children/teens to understand and express their present experiences, I can often assist parents in providing the support their child specifically needs at this point in their life. This approach reduces feelings of blame and fault-finding because everyone is encouraged to accept age-appropriate responsibility for his/her role in the family system. Even when I am only treating an individual without the rest of the family, I still refer to how that person is impacted by (and impacts) his/her family system.

My responsibility as the therapist is to choose among my therapeutic tools to find ones which support each family member while moving the family (or the individual) toward their goals. For the past eight years, homeopathy has been a very successful resource I use, when it is appropriate and agreed upon.

What is homeopathy? It would take more than an article (or two) to fully explain what homeopathy is and what is does; however, in my next article I will offer a brief concise picture. If your curiosity gets the better of you, you might do some research at www.NationalCenterForHomeopathy.org.

For more information contact Beth Reese LPC, CHom at 314-807-0192. Located at 106 West Madison, Kirkwood.