In many ways, never is a human being more socially (and perhaps psychologically) combustible than during the teen years. Hormones, peer pressure, the sense of invincibility, and the folly of youth are all at their most potent mix when one in a teenager. This deadly cocktails of chemicals and external factors can often leave a person in need of medical treatment or therapy later on in life. However, the side effects of folly during the teenage years are not limited to later stages of life. A number of problems can crop up during that critical period itself, aggravating whatever cultural, social, and physiological troubles a person may have already developed. It is then important to find ways to help fix those problems. There are, of course, multiple ways to go about the problem, but research has found that certain tactics are more likely to work on the teen mind than others.

According to statistics, the most common problems that a typical teenager faces stems from fractured familial bonds. It is then imperative that therapy and counseling both be geared as much towards helping re-forge those bonds as they are towards fixing the problem. This particular method is heavily based on a methodology that requires that the teen spend vast amounts of time within the family context, provided that the family itself is not dysfunctional or damaged. The “family” approach takes on a multitude of forms, including techniques designed to correct behavior and repair parental authority relationships. For the most part, these approaches do not make heavy use of psychoactive medication and are generally not used for cases where the teen is involved in a criminal act.

Therapy has also been found effective if the therapist acknowledges that the teen is an individual and “not just some punk kid.” At their particular stage of development, the need to develop a sense of individuality and self is crucial. Acknowledging their belief that they are individuals that should be allowed to develop on their own is integral to earning their trust and convincing them to be more open to behavioral correction and suggestions. This part of the process can take a long time to fully complete, because most teens that have behavioral or psychological problems are unlikely to trust an authority figure of any sort, let alone one that comes from an oft-misunderstood profession. Once the trust has been earned, however, therapy can be carried about smoothly, so long as the psychiatrist does not press too hard on the teen ego.

Interestingly, tactics such as military school or boot camp actually do very little to curtail the problems. Rebellious behavior is a natural aspect of the teen years, and only in extreme cases will extreme discipline actually have an appreciable effect. Sending a teen with a discipline problem to a military school may instill a sense of discipline in them, but it can also have the long-term effect of damaging his or her ability to express himself. Others have also reported being reluctant to show or even recognize emotion, particularly if emotional problems were the root of the problems that got them sent to boot camp in the first place. A few rare cases have developed a permanent detachment from those formerly closest to them, being unable to fully reintegrate into the family dynamic after their experience.

For counseling that requires some form of medication, such as Prozac or Ritalin, it is best that the teen be put under a program that is tailor-made for them. Programs that offer teenagers residency in an institution generally perform poorly because teens fail to respond to the “all-encompassing” approach. Counseling and medication have to be suited to their individual situation, condition, and needs. This includes making a personalized schedule for meeting with the therapist, a list of psychoactive medication geared towards combating their problem, and making the patient feel comfortable.

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