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Professional Needing Help With Angry Teens

by Melissa
(Harvey, IL)

I am a QMHP (Qualified Mental Health Professional) who needs a little help with some angry teens. What are some ways you can get teenagers to open up to their anger issues or what is happening underneath it all, to make them feel the explosive anger?

Melissa Vacchiano, QMHP

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Melissa, and thanks for telling your story here. I'm glad you're committed to helping the angry teens you're working with. They are fortunate to have someone as devoted as you.

Here are some methods to try:

1) If you can do so in an authentic manner, tell them about your own experiences with anger in your adolescence. Tell them about your pain, your struggles and frustrations.

2) Ask them who their heroes are, who they admire the most and most want to be like. Ask for detail, specifically what they like about this person. Participate in this yourself, and share your heroes and heroines.

3) Ask them who they hate the most. and why. If you're comfortable doing so, share from your own feelings on this topic as well. The idea here is that emotions are imbedded in stories. The stories we remember the most are the ones with the strongest emotions.

4) I would also suggest that you provide poster size paper with colored markers, or sketch pads with colored pencils, and ask them to draw a picture of how they feel--or anything they want to draw. Their art work will tell a story, if you relax and try to empathize with each teen to understand their artwork. Explain to them that this has nothing to do with artistic ability, and inform the group (if you're working with groups), that only positive feedback and positive questions are allowed.

5) Ask them to bring their favorite music to share with you and/or the group. Again, no judgment or criticism is allowed. Just a curiosity, and an effort to understand each teen by getting to know what they are interested in.

6) Take a look at the exercises described on this FAQ page, and see if you can utilize any of those journaling or imagery processes with the teens.

I encourage you to learn about adolescent rites of passage, and see if you can facilitate some positive rituals for the teens in your care. This may or may not include the involvement of parents.

I hope this is helpful to you, Melissa. Feel free to write again for further input.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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