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Effective Communication with Teenagers

teen counseling

Effective Communication with Teenagers

Talking with teenagers could be its own university level major of study. Communication with adolescents is a delicate balance that requires a lot of patience and persistence. As the teen parenting social worker here for Hopeful Beginnings, I like to believe I have earned my degree in teenage communication.

Working in the local D214 school district as a contracted employee, I have an interesting position of working for the school district while working for Hopeful Beginnings. This gives me a bit of an in with teenagers allowing them to hopefully feel slightly more comfortable speaking with me. In my opinion, the biggest advantage I have is the ability to meet with a student for up to 8 sessions before having to obtain permission from a parent/legal guardian in order to continue services if the student so desires. While 8 sessions may not seem like a lot to some, that is 8 hours’ worth of time I have with a teen to build rapport, assess what is happening in their life and how I can be of assistance.

This time is when it becomes critical for me to communicate clearly to the teen who I am exactly and how I can be of support to them. The best way I have found to do this is to make the student comfortable. This can happen in a variety of ways. Primarily, being transparent with the student about my role and about confidentiality goes a long way. Once I have shared a bit about myself and being a social worker, the student then typically feels more open to telling me some basic information about themselves. Sometimes if the student is still shy or nervous, I will have them tell me about things they like or enjoy unrelated to the topic at hand. This can allow the student to gain confidence in speaking to me, a stranger, for the first time about something more fun and lighthearted before we talk about some more emotionally heavy topics. Watching the fear and nerves melt out of a student through their body language is one of the little victories I always try and celebrate. Once comfort is established, then I feel more prepared and confident in my ability to provide guidance and support to the student. It all begins with open and honest communication.

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