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Efforts are made to move to a new way of understanding and working with adolescents in the context of larger systems (Lerner & Galambos, 1998); although working with adolescents and families is critical, systemic change is sometimes needed to safeguard adolescent health.
Also at the heart of is the theme that today’s adolescent needs one thing that adults seem to have the least surplus of—time. Council of Economic Advisers, teens rated “not having enough time together” with their parents as one of their top problems. A crosscutting theme, regardless of one’s professional role, is the need to communicate effectively with youth.
It may take a number of sessions of nonjudgmental listening to establish the trust needed for a particular adolescent to share with an adult what he or she is thinking and feeling.
It may take even longer before an adolescent feels comfortable asking an adult for help with an important decision.
Many other negative attitudes were also expressed by those surveyed.
At the same time, however, the survey found that 89% of the respondents believed that “almost all teenagers can get back on track” with the right kind of guidance and attention.
Effective communication requires that an emotional bond form, however briefly, between the professional and the adolescent.
Media portrayals of adolescents often seem to emphasize the problems that can be a part of adolescence.
Gang violence, school shootings, alcohol-related accidents, drug abuse, and suicides involving teens are all too frequently reflected in newspaper headlines and movie plots.
The truth is that adolescents, despite occasional or numerous protests, need adults and want them to be part of their lives, recognizing that they can nurture, teach, guide, and protect them on the journey to adulthood.
Directing the courage and creativity of normal adolescents into healthy pursuits is part of what successfully counseling, teaching, or mentoring an adolescent is all about.