Breaking Through to Teens: A New Psychotherapy for the New Adolescence / Edition 1

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This book presents a powerful new framework for psychotherapy with today's teens, for whom high-risk behavior, lack of adult guidance, and intense anxiety and stress increasingly come with the territory. In his trademark compassionate style, Ron Taffel confronts the key challenge of building a therapeutic relationship that is strong enough to promote real behavioral and attitudinal change. Provided are effective ways to give advice that teens will listen to, get them to tell the truth about their lives, help parents reestablish their authority, and handle dilemmas around confidentiality. In addition, readers learn to expand the reach of therapy by such nontraditional means as inviting teens to bring friends into sessions. While written for professionals, the book will also appeal to many parents for its expert perspective on the inner lives of adolescents.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a remarkable book written by a renowned psychologist and therapist. Dr. Taffel presents a new, exciting approach for working with adolescents of the 21st century. He describes this approach with exquisite clarity and vivid case examples, and in the process challenges long-held views of existing therapy models. Every page bears witness to Dr. Taffel's empathy and warmth and his understanding of adolescents and their families. This book is a wonderful resource for both beginning and experienced therapists, and should also serve as a major text in courses in counseling and therapy."—Robert Brooks, PhD, Harvard Medical School; author of The Self-Esteem Teacher

"Taffel provides us with a veritable feast of wonderful and compelling ideas about how to make deep connections with 21st-century adolescents. A welcome antidote to all the hand-wringing about the alien behavior of 'kids today,' Taffel's relational-behavioral paradigm fills a void left by traditional theories that do not emphasize an authentic and enduring relationship as the primary treatment technique for reaching teens. From the numerous, specific case examples and therapy dialogues, to precise questions to consider and ask, this book fills a hunger that therapists—like the parents and adolescents they treat—have for guidance without equivocation. Graduate students, beginning clinicians, and experienced practitioners will find here a powerful approach to making and sustaining transformative alliances with these most challenging cases."—Martha B. Straus, PhD, Department of Clinical Psychology, Antioch New England Graduate School

"Dr. Taffel returns from the front lines of working with kids and parents, with scary yet hopeful stories of what he sees today. His account is bold, honest, and clear. What we used to call 'at-risk' behavior is now normal teen behavior. America faces an epidemic of culturally induced anxiety in teens. Parents are not really in control. For clinicians who feel in over their heads with today's teens and families (and who doesn't?), thanks to this book, help is on the way."—Mary Pipher, PhD, author of Reviving Ophelia

"In this radical and exciting book, Dr. Taffel issues a challenge to counselors and therapists working with teenagers: Stop being so passive! Rethink the old rules! In this shrink-savvy generation, kids are expert at manipulating their parents and their therapists. Dr. Taffel offers many specific, helpful suggestions for getting teens into therapy and for getting them to stop their self-destructive behaviors."—Michael Thompson, PhD, coauthor of Raising Cain

Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal
"This skillfully crafted text by Ron Taffel, PhD, offers a new method of therapeutic engagement with adolescents of the 21st century....Taffel uses his 25 years of expansive clinical experience, along with his personal experience, to develop an approach to working with the group he affectionately calls .the new adolescent'....Breaking Through to Teens is a book that has value as both a comprehensive first read and as a text used for frequent, repeated reference in work with young adults. Structured in a way that provides the background, rationale, and implementation of relational-behavioral therapy, this book also includes invaluable real-life examples that reinforce lessons learned and illustrate the strategies employed....Leaving this text is like leaving a good professional workshop or conference. You are inspired, reminded of old concepts, enlightened by old concepts in new frames, and interested in learning more about new concepts just introduced. You have smiled and grinned, been challenged to think, and perhaps even made a new friend. Social workers, psychologists, parents, and those whose work gives them the honor of interacting with adolescents all stand to gain from this inspiring new approach to our new adolescents."—Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal
Midwest Book Review
"Blends crucial insights into teen culture with the hard-earned knowledge of what can get through to the troubled adolescents of today's world....Extremely valuable both as a parenting resource and as a professional sourcebook of general understanding and specific techniques for youth psychologists and family counselors. Highly recommended especially for psychology reference shelves."—Midwest Book Review
Youth Today
"An excellent resource for professionals working with teens or their parents."—Youth Today
Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
"The author, an experienced clinician, writes in a personal, friendly, and pragmatic way with plenty of clinical examples. A simple common-sense wisdom permeates this book....I strongly recommend this book for anybody working with this age group....The authenticity, humility, and genuine care of the author constitute an experience of empathic connection with the reader."—Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Susan Richardson, MA, PsyD (Private Practice)
Description: This book brings clinicians up to speed on current dynamics in working with teens. The author directs clinicians towards some trends in adolescent behavior that differ from what is traditionally taught.
Purpose: He directs clinicians to pay attention to the role of the teen's "second family," (friends available 24/7 through IM, text messaging, cell phones) and how this affects their behavior. He states effective work with teens and their parents hinges on this understanding of the current context of behavior. The author ably carries out these worthy objectives, sometimes citing his previous work on the subject.
Audience: The book is written for psychotherapy practitioners who work with adolescents and their families. The author comprehensively demonstrates his points with numerous examples from his clinical practice and research. Additionally, he has directed over 100 workshops educating clinicians in working with adolescents and their families, clearly illustrating his ability to teach therapists.
Features: The author describes the "new" teen behavior in great detail, pointing out how traditional psychotherapy methods are often inefficient within this context. He depicts, point by point, methods of engagement, confrontation and encouraging family involvement in working with teens. Especially useful are his offerings of "flexible confidentiality," and walking the fine line between risky and dangerous behavior, what he refers to as "the gray zone," in terms of confidentiality.
Assessment: This is a thoughtful, well-written book that should be valuable to clinicians working with teens and their families. The author contrasts the themes in child-rearing since WWII and their impact and relation upon each other, and how these philosophies haven't held up in relation to current problems and behaviors in youth. His book provides today's clinicians with further useful tools for work with adolescents and their families.

3 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593851354
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/9/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron Taffel, PhD, has supervised and written about working with children and families for over two decades. He is one of the country’s most sought-after speakers for both professional and parent audiences. Dr. Taffel is the award-winning author of over 100 academic and popular articles, as well as critically acclaimed childrearing guides and books for professionals, and is a contributing editor to McCall’s and Parents magazines. He is the founder of Family and Couples Treatment Services at The Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy in New York City, where he lives with his wife and two children.

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Table of Contents

1. Context: The New Adolescence and a New Treatment Paradigm
2. First Meeting: Getting Teens to Talk
3. Foundation: What's Necessary to Build a Helping Relationship with Teens
4. The Core: Healing the Divided Self of 21st-Century Teens
5. Direction: Advice as Essential to Helping Teens Change Behavior and Attitudes
6. The Gray Zone: The Truth about Lying to Therapists and Other Child Professionals
7. Treatment Unbound: Creating "Flexible Confidentiality"
8. The Parent Trap: Childrearing Advice as Essential to Helping Parents Change Behavior
9. Stuck: How to Conduct a "Focused Family Session"
10. The Village: Bringing Friends into Treatment
11. The Real in Relational: Challenging Ourselves to Stay Three-Dimensional with Teens

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