Usually when I work with a family that has a struggling teen, I begin the work with the parents struggle. So often we want to “fix” our teen because we think they are the problem. We assume since they have brought so much discomfort to us, and the family, that if only we could have them “fixed” then everything will go back to normal.
Many families I work with at Vive (http://www.vivenow.com) send their teens away to wilderness programs or residential treatment centers. Even though everyone gets a respite and the teen does learn and grow, they still have to transition back into the home.
This is when the family has to look at their part in the struggle. This is a family system and everyone has their part. When working with parents that feel like victims of their teen, I begin to work with their beliefs and how they have given their power away and now see their teen as a victimizer. Not a pretty picture!
With a love-based model, the focus turns toward the one that is in the most discomfort, which is usually the parent. We begin to pull apart their beliefs that don’t allow them to see what is truly going on and therefore show up for the struggling teen. Taking responsibility for our own discomfort allows us to regulate our own emotional states and therefore be a safe emotional place for our teen to share.