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The Teen Whisperer: How to Break through the Silence and Secrecy of Teenage Life

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Overview

Mike Linderman is a teen therapist unlike any other. A real-life cowboy, he wakes up at the crack of dawn, works the cattle on his ranch, and then counsels some of the country's most troubled teens, approaching them with a unique blend of down-home honesty, straight-talk discipline, and pure intention that is rarely found in a therapist's office. Most of the teens Mike treats are angry, abused, violent, and dangerous, yet despite their difficult pasts, he has achieved extraordinary success with them, helping to ...

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The Teen Whisperer

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Overview

Mike Linderman is a teen therapist unlike any other. A real-life cowboy, he wakes up at the crack of dawn, works the cattle on his ranch, and then counsels some of the country's most troubled teens, approaching them with a unique blend of down-home honesty, straight-talk discipline, and pure intention that is rarely found in a therapist's office. Most of the teens Mike treats are angry, abused, violent, and dangerous, yet despite their difficult pasts, he has achieved extraordinary success with them, helping to turn their lives around and earning him the nickname the "Teen Whisperer."

In this book, he shares the secrets behind his success with parents everywhere, demonstrating how his regimen of hard work, integrity, and effective communication has turned seriously at-risk kids into loving, well-balanced, and productive teens. More than just a plan to rein in bad behavior, The Teen Whisperer deconstructs the emotional barriers that adolescence has placed between you and your child, helping you work with teens on their level—instead of simply treating them as subordinates. With this straightforward and open perspective, both you and your teen will learn to offer each other mutual respect and kindness, as you work together to heal the troubled hearts of your family.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Linderman, clinical director of Spring Creek Lodge Academy, an alternative school for at-risk kids, teams up with writer Brozek to share lessons learned from 10 years of success with troubled teens. His clients-described in a number of case studies-are extreme examples of kids who turn to alcohol, drugs or other high-risk behaviors, but their stories provide insight into the volatile nature of the teen psyche as well as the importance of solid family relationships. Linderman relies on a model of five primary needs that teens require: survival, freedom, power, belonging and fun. He guides readers through each, describing how teens can act out when a particular need is not appropriately met (e.g., a lack of belonging may lead to alcohol abuse in an effort to gain status with peers). Linderman counsels parents to stay connected to their teens' lives. (At times, however, Linderman's approach itself seems a bit extreme, as when he asks his own teenage daughter to hand over her cellphone so he can converse with her friend.) Along with Linderman's philosophy on dealing with teens, the book includes useful information on warning signs that may indicate such problems as depression or substance abuse. Parents will benefit from both the clinical and personal experiences of a man who respects teens and whom teens respect. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061373749
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/14/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 537,548
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mike Linderman is a licensed counselor who has worked with teens for more than ten years. A veteran of the first Gulf War, he has been married for twenty years and is the proud father of three healthy teens. He lives in Trout Creek, Montana.

Gary Brozek is a freelance writer. He lives in Evergreen, Colorado.

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Read an Excerpt

The Teen Whisperer
How to Break Through the Silence and Secrecy of Teenage Life

Chapter One

You Can Call Me Mr. Mike

You can call me Mr. Mike. Just about every teen or parent I've worked with has. Once you get to know me better, you'll understand that I don't stand on ceremony much. I demand respect (and get it) because I earn it. I don't have a fancy pedigree from Ivy League schools, nor do I have a trail of abbreviations dangling off my last name like an anchor to keep my overinflated ego from floating off into the clouds.

I live in Trout Creek, Montana, a town of fewer than a thousand souls, and folks here more than likely remember me as a chubby little runny-nosed kid who left home at eighteen to go to school and serve in the military. They might mention that a couple of years later, I returned to town and took up work in the lumber mill while hanging my shingle in private practice for a while. And if you really prod them enough, they'll start talking about my football days and remember that like my father before me, I take pride in my community, head up the local school board, coach various ball teams, and have raised up three kids as solid citizens. Around here, nobody cares what degrees I've earned; they just know that I've got a way with kids.

Not that I'm the kind of guy who's competitive and keeps score or anything, but I do have a pretty good track record of success. I can't tell you that every kid I've ever worked with has been turned around 100%. That's not a realistic expectation. Since I'm always encouraging the kids I work with to deal more effectively with reality, I have to place the same demand on myself. Ican remember only two kids whom I've had to refer to other therapists because I just couldn't make a really strong connection with them, or they simply refused outright to cooperate with me. That stuff happens, and I'm at a loss to explain why, other than to chalk it up to the nearly infinite variables that go into human relationships. I haven't lost a lot of sleep thinking about those two losses, though I do tend to be very hard on myself. I've got far too many other places to focus my time and energies on. Took me a while to learn that, but it was a very valuable lesson—not something I could have gotten out of any lecture or reading assignment from my days at the University of Montana, Park College, or Montana State Northern.

I'm not a theory kind of guy. I learned lessons about raising kids and getting those who are off track back into the fold the hard way—through more than 25,000 hours of clinical work with teens and young adults. I've done a lot of different things in my life—worked in that lumber mill, served as a firefighter in the U.S. Air Force, ran a forklift, even clerked at a convenience store to help pay for my undergraduate education. But nothing has been as difficult, exhausting, rewarding, and completely fulfilling as the work I did for ten years as the clinical director at the Spring Creek Lodge Academy in Thompson Falls, Montana. Now that I'm back in private practice, working with at-risk kids in this setting, I can see how influential my years at that alternative school have been. I know I'll carry those lessons over into whatever next steps I take next in my career.

Spring Creek Lodge is a year-round boarding school, a place where kids who haven't found success in traditional schools (and often in other alternative educational settings) can find a quiet place away from the negative environments and peer groups that contributed to some of their academic and social problems.

Along with any academic deficiencies they may have to make up for, the students there are often placed in that setting by their parents because of addiction (drugs and alcohol), difficulty with anger management, sexual and emotional abuse, and a host of other issues. I dare say I've not seen it all here, but I've seen a fair bit of the spectrum of troubles that teens encounter in making that most difficult transition from child to adult.

Maybe because I was born and raised in this area, I think this locale has had a lot to do with my success. Like most rural communities, Trout Creek has undergone changes in the forty-odd years my family has been here since moving from Puyallup, Washington, in the mid-1960s. My parents wanted to escape the big-city influences that were encroaching on just about every place of any size during that tumultuous decade, and rural Montana and a 180-acre parcel of ranch and forest land backing up a mountainside between the Bitterroot and Cabinet Ranges seemed about ideal. Of course, nothing is ever completely perfect, but Trout Creek has remained my home, the place where my wife, Janna, and I have raised our three kids. I don't ever remember anybody using the term "family values" around here or mentioning that it takes a village to raise up kids right. We didn't talk it; we lived it. Same thing went on in Spring Creek—everybody was everybody's business.

Young People Today

I'm accustomed to telling it like it is, so let's get some things out of way. It may strike you as a bit odd that a man who lives in rural America—a guy who was raised on a hobby ranch and broke his first horse at thirteen under his grandfather's watchful eye—has anything at all to say about today's young people. It may seem strange that a stereotypical farm boy, who grew up mending fences and pulling calves with his tough-as-dirt father, feels that he has what it takes to relate to America's youth. I'll admit that I carried a pocketknife to school every day, not a cell phone or iPod. Instant messaging . . .

The Teen Whisperer
How to Break Through the Silence and Secrecy of Teenage Life
. Copyright © by Mike Linderman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     vii
How to Use This Book     xi
Foreword     xiii
Meet the Teen Whisperer
You Can Call Me Mr. Mike     3
Understanding Reality Therapy     22
The Five Primary Needs of Your Teen
Survival     41
Fun     60
Freedom     74
Power     85
Belonging     96
When Teens' Needs Aren't Being Met
The Emotional Consequences of Unmet Needs     109
Acting Out Behavior I: Eating Disorders, Drinking, and Drugs     120
Acting Out Behavior II: Violence and Sex     139
Acting Out Turns Inward: Depression and Suicide     162
Developing the Right Approach
Having the Right Mindset     175
Showing the Right Mindset through Praise     195
Communicating with Your Teen     208
Talkin' the Right Talk     220
Making the Right Set of Rules     240
Riding Herd on Your Understanding     258
Epilogue     277
Appendix A     281
Appendix B     289
Appendix C     291
Index     297
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