Treating the Tough Adolescent: A Family-Based, Step-by-Step Guide / Edition 1

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This book illuminates the causes of severe adolescent behavioral problems and presents a research-based, 15-step model for helping families bring about meaningful change. Incorporating structural and strategic principles, the author's cohesive approach focuses on setting clear rules and consequences; changing the mood and direction of confrontations; neutralizing such problem behaviors as disrespect, truancy, running away, violence, and threats of suicide; and restoring positive, nurturing family relationships. Special treatment issues covered include adolescent substance abuse and managing problems that arise in single-parent and divorced families, as well as ways to collaborate effectively with outside systems. Featuring a wealth of illustrative case examples and reproducible materials, this is an indispensable clinical guidebook and text.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Using Treating the Tough Adolescent as a text provides my students with a clear, concise understanding of the strategic therapy model and its application. Many students (as well as veteran therapists) are intimidated by the idea of working with out-of-control teens and their families. Dr. Sells's book is written in a straightforward way and offers specific strategies that, when followed, will lead to success."--Peter D. Bradley, PhD, Department of Family Therapy, Texas Woman's University

"This book is a gem. Sells provides front-line clinicians with a step-by-step road map for doing effective family therapy with difficult adolescents. If you wish to know what an advanced structural-strategic family therapy model looks like, read this book." --Matthew D. Selekman, MSW, Response Center, Skokie, IL

"Treating the Tough Adolescent offers a sensible and strategic approach to resolving the family problems of difficult adolescents....This is a valuable book that wedges research-supported ideas into practical guidance for therapists struggling with exasperating adolescents and their families." --from the Foreword by Jay Haley

"Dr. Sells's approach, which is theoretically derived, extensively researched, and carefully refined, is logical, considerate, eminently practical, and easy to follow. His explanations of what to do, why to do it, and how to do it should be accessible and useful to all." --from the Foreword by Neil Schiff

Journal of Family Psychotherapy

"One of the best treatment manuals for working with adolescent problems that exists within the family therapy field....a must read for everyone who treats difficult teenagers."--Journal of Family Psychotherapy
Canadian Child Psychiatry Review

"I recommend this book for any mental health clinician who works with difficult adolescents and their families. It is an excellent volume outlining a step-by-step approach to effecting lasting change in severely behaviorally disordered adolescents."--Canadian Child Psychiatry Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593850999
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/15/2004
  • Series: Guilford Family Therapy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 790,882
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott P. Sells, PhD, is Professor of Social Work at Savannah State University and Clinical Director of the Savannah Family Institute. He has treated more than 800 difficult children and adolescents, has spoken nationally on this topic, and has published a number of related journal articles. His 6-week educational program for parents of difficult children and teenagers, Parenting With Love and Limits(TM), has been adopted as a standard model in Virginia; Ohio; and Savannah, Georgia. His website is at:
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Table of Contents

I. A Family-Based Model for Difficult Adolescents
1. Introduction
2. Point of Entry: Why Difficult Teenagers Have Problems
3. A Model for Change
II. Specific Principles and Guidelines
4. Setting Clear Rules and Consequences: The Basic Work of Therapy
5. Changing the Timing and Process of Confrontations
6. Neutralizing the Adolescent's "Five Aces"
7. Restoring Nurturance and Tenderness
III. Special Treatment Issues and Circumstances
8. Working with Outsiders
9. Single-Parent Families: Sharing Parental Responsibility
10. Divorce and Stepfamily Problems
11. Alcohol and Drug Use: "I Don't Have a Problem"
IV. Research Findings and Future Implications
12. Process-Outcome Research and the Family-Based Model: Refining and Operationalizing Key Theoretical Concepts
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