Counselling a teenager can be a challenge. Where the young person is deeply troubled or struggling with important issues, then this can be even more demanding. The wrong approach can quickly backfire and cause the teen to walk away from the counselling relationship. The long-term effects can be devastating for both the youth and their family. It is therefore important to be informed and trained to support the client well.
This course will help you to understand how things look through the young person’s eyes. This will help you to build a bridge so that the younger client can take a risk, be open and share their concerns with you – a counsellor and ‘authority figure’.
Adults and youth are two distinct groups; they see and experience life differently. As a result, the youth counsellor must alter and adapt his approach to reflect the following realities:
Adolescents are less self-aware and less objective in their view of themselves, their situation, other people and the world. They tend to be more self-absorbed and egotistical in their approach to life and relationships. This is something the youth counsellor should be aware of and address.
In terms of brain development, the young person’s brain is still maturing. As a result, the young person’s thinking is less well-informed and less logical than his adult counterpart’s will be. This means that the youth counsellor must often confront and challenge errors in the young person’s thinking, faulty analyses, and so on.
Related to this, the younger client is often less articulate, and so less able to express his thoughts and feelings well. The skilled youth counsellor must demonstrate good listening skills and steady patience to ‘tease out’ issues and concerns.
The motivations that drive the young person will be different in kind from the adult’s as well. For example, the affirmation of their peers is the force that drives most teenagers. This may be true for adults too, but to a lesser degree.
Feelings are strong, hard to understand, contain and manage in young people. Therefore patience and cool, level-headed thinking are crucial in the youth counsellor.
Hormones affect their feelings too, and also their thinking and behaviour. This is less of a confounding factor when counselling an adult client (with a few notable exceptions, such as PMT or postpartum depression).
The course material demonstrates how these influence and affect the counselling needs of the younger client.
Specifically, in Lesson 1, we introduce basic counselling skills, techniques and counsellor qualities, with an emphasis on youth counselling.
NB. The same fundamental counselling skills have been found to be helpful when counselling clients, regardless of their age. However, young people need more understanding, empathy, unconditional acceptance and a clear conviction that they won’t be judged, criticized, ‘told-off’ or blamed.
Throughout the remainder of the course, we will systematically explore the following important topics and issues:
Theories and research on human growth and development. This includes examining the work of well-known theorists in the field (such as Levin, Erikson, Maslow, Bowlby, Piaget, Kohlberg, Bandura and so on).
Emotional issues. This includes loneliness, self-image and self-esteem, depression, suicide, anxiety, living with a disability or coping with a long-term illness and grief and loss.
Relational Issues. This includes issues of identity (‘feeling that I belong’ and ‘being free to be me’), multiculturalism, peer pressure, pop culture, bullying and anger management.
Family Issues. This includes over-protective parents, inattentive parents, separation and divorce, being part of a single parent family, being part of a blended family, being adopted, and developing rebellious attitudes and behaviours.
Sexual Issues. This includes gender role development and sexual stereotypes, gender/ sexual identity, being informed about sexual matters and preparing for being sexually active, premarital sex, unplanned pregnancies, abortion, issues related to homosexuality and lesbianism, HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Addictions and disorders. This includes alcohol and alcohol abuse, cigarettes and nicotine addiction, drug and chemical use and abuse, gambling, pornography, anorexia and bulimia nervosa.
Counselling Abused Young People. This includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, child exploitation and sexual abuse.
Educational and Vocational Issues. This includes special educational needs, over- and under-achievement, school phobia, examination anxiety/phobia, further education and careers, and mentoring.
We end by reviewing Lessons 1-9. We also consider some additional resources that may be useful when counselling young people. These include evaluation and diagnostic services, a range of professional organizations, support groups, help-lines and so on.
Certificate in Youth Counselling - Level 3
Basic English Skills