Psychotherapy can be a trap at times. As I have said before when working with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia I have a rule of thumb for my self. With the client I will only discuss food, weight and eating for 50% of the session. For the rest of the session we will talk about other matters besides those. The reason for this is the client usually only talks about those things with many people including parents and family, therapists and others in the helping professions such as dieticians and so forth. I want to establish a relationship with the person that includes non problem related things so we discuss other things like their relationships, inner thoughts, feelings and so forth. And secondly they wont be expecting it, as it seems like people only ever talk to them about food and weight.
I get teenagers brought to me with anger problems of various kinds. They are being disruptive and rebellious and so forth. So I apply the same rule and seek to establish a relationship with them that at times does not involve the anger or rebellion problem. Again they wont be expecting it and I also want to find out about what I call in my book – The teenage mind – the secret world of the teenager.
Many therapists get distracted by the problem like this diagram shows. They get lost in the Rebellious Child ego state anger. I have drawn it covering the Free Child as many teenagers are like this. You only get to see the RC and rarely the FC. So for part of the session I refuse to talk about the RC anger and seek to make contact with the FC. At times this can be very hard to do as the teenager will resist it. They will expect you to want to talk about the anger problems with the RC and when you refuse this can be a bit destabilising.
One deals with the anger problem by not talking about it, which may seem a little odd. If one eventually gets through the RC and the teenager does let you see their FC then you usually find a person who is quite traditional in their views and beliefs about life and the world. They are also quite conforming. They may present as a rebel but underneath there is a conforming individual who is very concerned about what others think of him and her. And there is also of course all the sensitive and timid and insecure parts of them, that we all have. Teenagers often have more of those than the average adult. If they are willing to talk about these then one can see they will grow from that experience and then the anger problems usually diminish to some degree anyways. Again one can deal with teenager anger problem by not talking about it. The therapist needs to be careful they are not distracted by the problem, in the ways I have mentioned.