· Select a colleague who was assigned a different client than you. Offer and support at least two counseling strategies he or she might use to establish a trusting relationship with his or her adolescent client. Support your response with authentic observations/experiences and the current literature.
· Select a colleague who was assigned the same client as you. Expand on his or her posting by describing how you might integrate the parents/caretakers into the adolescent’s treatment plan while also maintaining a trusting relationship with the adolescent.
· Select a colleague who was assigned the same or different client family from you. Offer and support at least two strategies he or she might use to encourage healthy risk-taking behaviors with their adolescent client.
1. (A. Wit)
Teenagers, as a population, can be bold, defiant, ambitious, and the source of many parents’ concerns. Between middle-childhood and early-adulthood individuals face many biological, cognitive, and social changes. In this post, I will highlight the impact of risky behavior on adolescent development. First, I will introduce how risky behavior is impacting the Martinez family. Second, I will explain the impact of risky behavior on development and the family system. Finally, I will make suggestions on how counselors can approach adolescent clients and their families.
My client is the Martinez family. The focus of today’s visit is the conflict between mother, Jeanette, and 16-year-old daughter, Gabby. The Martinez family are devout Seventh Day Adventists (Laureate Education, 2013). Jeannette is furious with Gabby for becoming sexually active. Not only is teenage sex a risky-behavior, it also goes against the family’s religious beliefs. In the session, Jeanette verbally berates Gabby into silence. When Jeanette leaves the room, Gabby breaks down in tears. Gabby says she loves her boyfriend, but she regrets becoming sexually active so young. Gabby is distressed by feeling like a disappointment to her parents and God.
Gabby, like many other teenagers in this developmental stage, is engaging in risky behavior that impacts her relationships and self-image. Risky behaviors, including sex, dramatically increase during adolescence (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). The vast majority of individuals engage in some type of risky behavior during their teenage years (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Protective factors for Gabby include her immediate and extended family and her religion. Current prevention and intervention models for adolescents prioritize youth’s family and community resources (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015).
Risky behavior has a profound impact on adolescent development. Counselors can better understand the effects of high-risk behavior by understanding the client’s perspective on the behavior (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). For example, what are the pros and cons of having sex for Gabby? Does she worry about STD’s or pregnancy? Does sex enhance her relationship with her boyfriend? If she has regrets, are they related to her parents or God’s judgment? How Gabby perceives having sex informs the impact it has on her development. A concerning impact of teenage sexual activity is the increased likelihood of other problem behaviors. Research shows that participation in one risky behavior such as teen sex can increase participation in other high-risk behaviors such as drug use and drunk driving (Sullivan, Childs, & O’Connell, 2010). When high-risk and delinquent behavior increases, so do depressive symptoms (Sullivan, Childs, & O’Connell, 2010).
Teenage behavior impacts the whole family system, not just the adolescent. The presenting problem for the Jeannette and Gabby Martinez is the conflict in their relationship as a result of Gabby’s sexual activity. Almost half of all parents of adolescents experience powerlessness, rejection, and personal regret (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). It is not uncommon for parents to feel guilt or shame over their child’s behavior. Risky behavior in teens can have a negative impact on other children in the family. Younger siblings may model inappropriate behavior. Although adolescence can be a difficult time for the whole family, research shows that disengagement is not the solution. Family, teachers, peers, and religious community can all serve as resources to adolescents.
Adolescence can be a challenging phase for kids and their families. Counselors can help adolescents who engage in risky behavior by understanding the teen’s perception of the behavior, acknowledging that high-risk behavior is normal at this stage, and helping to define reasonable limits for behavior (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Relationships play an important role during this developmental stage. Peer, family, and community are advised to engage with teenagers even if they are disapproving of the teen’s behavior. It is essential to keep in mind that risky behavior is normal during adolescence, but it can have dangerous implications if not addressed with care.
Broderick, P. C., & Blewitt, P. (2015). The life span: Human development for helping professionals (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education
Laureate Education (Producer). (2013a). Adolescence [Video file]. Retrieved from CDN Files Database. (COUN 6215/COUN 8215/HUMN 8215)
Sullivan, C. J., Childs, K. K., & O’Connell, D. (2010). Adolescent risk behavior subgroups: An empirical assessment. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(5), 541–562.
2. (S. Mor)
The biggest misconception teenagers feel is that no one understands what they are experiencing as if adults have skipped this necessary stage in life. The family I am assigned to is the Reeves family, and John who is 13 years old is experiencing quite a few challenges that could impact the rest of his life. The friends he is choosing and the actions they are displaying have Lucas who is John’s father questioning where he has went wrong in raising his son.
The Reeves family has been under a lot of pressure because Lucas has been thrown into being a single dad of three children. Anne, who is Lucas’s wife and also the mother of their three children, has decided to abandon her family. Lucas is in charge of his sons John and Justin, and his baby daughter Emme. The main problem Lucas is having with his children is a lack of support due to the fact that he has no family or friends where they are living. The presenting problem in their house concerning John his 13 year old son includes a recent major brush with the law that resulted in serious criminal activity. John was arrested for robbing a local convenience store with two of his friends ages 14 and 16. During the course of the robbery the older boy physically assaulted the store owner which caused them to be thrown into juvenile detention center. Lucas was informed that although John has never been in trouble before, his actions are concerning because the robbery and assault were for a gang initiation. As his counselor I am concerned with the gang activity because it may be a result for replacing the family he feels he has lost. Research has proven that when we involve ourselves in behavior that is risky, there is an underlying problem that is the cause of such behavior (Sullivan, Childs & O’Connell). John is trying to replace the family he feels he has lost, from his mother’s abandonment which is causing him to gravitate to a gang and display behavior that is the complete opposite of who he is.
John needs to feel like he belongs to a family, and the disconnect he feels in his own family has caused him to attach his self to the wrong crowd of people. Studies show that when adolescents become involved with the wrong crowd it may be linked to risky behavior such as alcohol, drugs, sex, good or bad academics, achievement and some psychiatric symptoms (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Although he has been charged as a juvenile getting caught may be his saving grace in order to get the help he needs before he reaches adulthood or criminal activity that could result in imprisonment for a lifetime. John feels that he no family and that the friends he has attached himself to are his family. My concentration will be to assist him into figuring out who he is and his sense of where he belongs.
Evidence has proven that adolescents “risk behaviors are associated with the behaviors of their close friends” (Jaccard, Blanton & Dodge, 2005). The impact of John’s behavior will be life altering if he continues to surround himself with the gang he has chosen as his new family. Statistics report that four fifths of males in their adolescents do experience minor crimes which result in police contact while in their teenage years (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Although this appears to be for minor crimes, John being involved in a robbery and assault is much more than minor. The impact that this will take on his life if he continues will devastate him and his entire family. The problem will be in helping him understand the ramifications of his actions as a juvenile, could result in him receive charges added or even upgrade from a juvenile to an adult.
Adolescents look to their peers as a source of “support, social comparison, and imitation or identification” in which they are able to relate to (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). John has clearly chosen the wrong group of friends to attach his self to, and this choice has caused him and his family great devastation. The facts will remain the same unless the necessary steps are chosen in order to assist John with making the right decisions for his life moving forward. Risky behavior is common in adolescents who also help them create a sense of identity, but illegal behaviors involving robbery and assault are beyond risky. The proper guidance and correction will help John make correct decisions and hopefully change his choice of friends and his new-found family.
Broderick, P. C., & Blewitt, P. (2015). The life span: Human development for helping professionals (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Jaccard, J., Blanton, H., & Dodge, T. (2005). Peer influences on risk behavior: An analysis of the effects of a close friend. Developmental Psychology, 41(1), 135–147.
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