Getting Teens To Talk In Therapy and 'I Don't Know'Feb 01, 2023
Working with teens and getting teens to talk in therapy is particularly challenging when you get a lot of "I don't know" answers. Some therapists can get very irritated with this answer, and actually, so can I so don't be worried if you're frustrated - this is often a reaction to help-rejecting tendencies. You are, after all, a helper, trying to help a client who is rejecting the offer with some stone-walling (potentially).
Before I go on too much - do you know about the course on this site that's all about getting teens to talk in therapy? Check it out here
Teenagers are often reluctant to talk in therapy. Getting them to talk can be a challenge. Here are some tips for overcoming this challenge and getting the teen to open up while building rapport.
If a teenager doesn't want to talk but has come to therapy because they need to talk, something is going on. So it's our job to determine the best way to improve engagement and encourage conversation.
Rather than get irritated, have this checklist of five reasons why the client says "I don't know" in therapy in the back of your brain to give you a framework of what to do and what to say.
Check out the free PDF you can download here.
Five Reasons Why Client's Say I Don't Know
1. They really don't know! - This is easy to deal with if you suspect this is the case because you can just reflect on how hard it is for them to struggle to know or recall something.
2. They really DO know but are afraid to share it. This happens so often with teens and it's easy to deal with if you suspect there's an inner critic or fear of being criticized. You just ask them to 'guess' the answer, which takes the pressure of getting it right
3. They really DO know, but saying it would be making something more real. This is a good one for your empathy skills too because you can say 'I wonder if you might be scared to say it out loud'.
4. They really DO know but don't want to rock-the-boat. Think about what you know of the teens family life, if they said the truth or said something that would happen at home, or would someone (Mom / Dad) get mad?
Check out the video and the free PDF for more reasons why Teens might say I don't know in therapy and what to do about it.
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