Therapy with Teens

If you are in middle or high school, life can feel pretty tough. Academics can be hard, and sometimes there is a lot of pressure to succeed. Social pressure can be intense, and it may be hard to figure out just where you fit in. Maybe extracurricular activities such as sports, music, student government or theater are fun — but overwhelming. Therapy for a teen can be a wonderful chance to explore who you are, what you value, and where you are heading. Learning and attention to schoolwork may be tough challenges for you. Parents mean well, but at times they just don't understand.


I find the best psychotherapy for teenagers entails a collaborative, person-to-person dialogue which addresses a teen’s particular concerns and situation in life. This approach to psychotherapy provides an emotionally safe place to explore how one feels about things and what to do about them. It evolves into what feels and looks more like life coaching than psychotherapy. A therapist can be a mentor, a “thinking partner”—someone who can help to generate new ideas, to figure things out, or help to take a new approach to oneself, relationships, or situations.

In my experience, the best psychotherapy outcomes for teens (or adults) emerge from a process in which

  • Real change is a deliberate choice. It is facilitated by a heightened sense of identity, self-worth, purpose, and empowerment on one hand, and clarity about how the world and relationships work on the other.
  • The counselor remains emotionally tuned in, centered, and respectful. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that the therapeutic relationship is the most powerful factor regardless of treatment orientation. It provides an emotional safety zone that enables personal growth, new perspectives and skills.
  • The teen's therapist is able to offer more than a therapeutic relationship. A professional psychotherapist should to be able to effectively treat psychological disorders (or their precursors in childhood and adolescence).

He/she should have life experience, useful information, and teachable strategies for approaching problems in living, stage-of-life, relationship, family, peer, academic, and career issues that people face in their teens and early twenties.


My approach to counseling teenagers


I personally enjoy working with teenagers because they are going through such an intense, challenging, and pivotal time in life. My counseling approach is specific to the individual and his family, avoids pathologizing a client or blaming anyone, and actively pursues positive, creative solutions.

The multi-modal approach provides a range and depth of perspective as well as cognitive behavioral tools to implement change. Family systems theory helps me to understand a client against the background of his/her family. As an interpersonal-humanistic psychologist, my approach to counseling teenagers naturally focuses on self-empowerment and personal responsibility.

At appropriate times, and with a teen's consent, I may consult with and make recommendations to parents—without compromising confidentiality. We may have a teen-parent meeting to facilitate communication, resolve an impasse, or reinforce an agreement, etc.


To arrange for an initial consultation, please email me at  or leave a message at 646-338-5424.

content © John Berkowitz 2015

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