Parenting Challenges

Parenting Challenges

Are you worried about your child/teen?  Has their behavior changed?  Have they withdrawn from the family or even their peers?

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of stressors for kids and teens today – a sampling includes:

  • An overburdened school system inadequate to meet the individual needs of each child.
  • Declining empathy skills leading to ever-intensifying forms of bullying.
  • Family changes: divorce, separation, blended families.
  • Chronic illness within the family.
  • Too many activities.
  • Unstable living situations – frequent moves or school changes.
  • Negative self concept in comparison to social media.
  • Confusing messages about identity development.

It is no surprise then, that the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.  Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34.  But here is the most important fact for parents to pay attention to: the majority of people who die by suicide did not have a known mental health condition The truth is – if you are human, you will face mental health difficulties at some point.  It is no different than our physical health – none of us reach the end without experiencing some form of illness in our lifetimes, even if it is just a cold.  What makes us think mental health is any different?  We must honestly assess ourselves and our children for signs of mental/emotional distress.

There are two pillars which ground our work at Phenix when taking on a teen or child client:

Pillar 1 – Life gets hard for all of us at some point so therapy is a vital component of health care – no different than the dentist or the pediatrician.  Our children and teens are facing a world for which we adults have few answers.  The pressures they face are alien to our experiences.  Our parents raised us under completely different circumstances so they may not understand the challenges you deal with as a parent.  If you are feeling isolated and confused in your parenting journey – you are not alone!

Pillar 2 – If you are familiar with Phenix, then you know that we work from a relational theoretical orientation: we believe that the problems we face are always rooted in relationship – relationship with self and others.  Relationship is the context within which healing takes place.  Even when working with adult individuals, we are always mindful of that person’s primary relationships and how they may be affected by the work we are doing in therapy.  All the more relevant is this principle when working with an underage client who is literally dependent upon adults for most aspects of their lives.

Based on these two pillars, we have a unique policy when taking on a child/teen client: We will not work with just the child.  If a parent wants to bring their child or teen to Phenix for help, then at least one caregiver must be willing to engage their own therapy as well.  This is not rooted in blame – very often, the challenges that kids face have external sources.  However, a child’s mental health correlates with the parents’.  As leaders in the family, in control of all available resources, parents hold all the power to facilitate health in the home.  Our relational approach does not align with “dropping” a child off for therapy and expecting significant change without parental involvement.  We expect that at least one primary caregiver (preferably all) will engage an individual process of examining their own biases, beliefs, coping tools and relational style – working toward the deep, transformative change that realigns the very atmosphere in the home.  This kind of work often uncovers past hurts and traumas which would be inappropriate to address in family sessions.  Additionally, the struggles and pains of parenting often trigger underlying personal issues.  We provide a safe space for parents to receive the confidential support they so richly deserve!

With multiple therapists in the practice – parents can choose their own therapist for their individual work, or they can work with the same therapist as their child/teen.  In all cases, parent therapy is confidential and we ask parents to allow us a level of privacy with the child/teen for their individual sessions.  We must establish a trust-based working alliance with the teen/child if they are to open up in therapy.  Of course, we address any issues of harm with parents.  We work with the parent/s and child to design a rotation of individual and family sessions that fit schedules and financial resources.  The plan makes room for working with each individual on their own therapeutic goals, as well as parent coaching sessions and family sessions where communal issues are addressed.  If at all possible, we look for ways to include siblings in the process, as they often have helpful perspectives and need to build buy-in to whatever changes are taking place in the family system.  Holding space for individual confidentiality and family work is a complex skill that not every therapist is comfortable with.  We are well aware of the complexity of this approach and continually assess our bracketing skills and therapeutic methods – watching for situations where the dynamics require the parent work with a therapist outside our practice.

Some parents bring their child or teen to therapy because they are already working with their own therapist and want similar benefits for their child.  That is always exciting, as the parent is already on the path to personal transformation!  In that case, we establish a release of information between our practice and their therapist so that observations can be shared with the parent’s therapist and collaboration can occur between therapists for more effective parent coaching & family sessions here at Phenix.

If a teen client is aged 17 when they begin therapy with us, we do not follow this process automatically.  We obtain feedback from the teen client regarding how much involvement they want parents to have, encouraging them to identify issues their parent/s could work on in therapy.

We believe that play is the language of childhood, so we utilize creative activities when working with kids.  However, there are limitations to online play, so we generally do not work with younger children.  We have no age requirement – every child is different so we collaboratively determine what will work when we conduct the free consult initial session. Clearly, our process demands a high level of commitment.  This aligns with our mission for transformation, rebirth and purpose which is never available without commitment.  There is a place for acute problem-solving approaches in certain seasons of life so we are not the practice for every family and that is completely fine.  That said – if your family is ready to dig in to a process of lifelong transformation; if you are ready to break generational traumas; if you are ready to walk in purpose – reach out to us via call, text, email or the contact form here on the website!

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Orlando, FL

info@phenixcounseling.com
(407) 476-6041

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