Five Stages of Counseling An At-Risk Youth

We know there are many teens who have problems. Some teens are deeper into strife than others but each at-risk young person needs professional help. So this article is all about the recovery process, about how to help a troubled teen turn their life around. Put simply there are five stages of counseling at-risk youth which are:

  • Get to know the teen
  • Discover what needs to be done
  • Draw up some goals
  • Draw up a plan of achieving the goals and
  • Review the progress

There is no better way to help a troubled teen than by establishing a solid relationship with them. Teens want to feel comfortable in your presence, want to be confident that they can trust their therapist or counselor and be prepared to work hard with their partner. The teen needs to feel safe, needs to be able to believe there is hope for their future and needs to gradually build their relationship with their helper.

The next stage is to list the exact nature of the teen’s troubles. What are they doing wrong and why are they doing it? Now this step is essential. Only when you, and the teen, know exactly what has happened can future steps be taken. You as the therapist will have read case notes and interviewed the teen but it is vital that the troubled youth contributes fully to this assessment. They must be able to recognize what they have done. Understand that this assessment may take more than one session. It may take some time to get all the details of the teen’s position. And remember you are looking at actions, attitudes and consequences of behavior.

Next you move to the stage where goals are set and again it must have a solid input from the teen. Imposing goals without the consent and contribution of the teen is not the way to do things. If the teen can set out the goals, then so much the better. Now goals have to be achievable. And perhaps set some relatively simple goals to begin and increase their degree of difficulty as success comes the way of the teen. But keep the goals clear and have deadlines.

But setting goals alone is not good enough. You have empowered the troubled teen with the skills to enable the goals to be achieved. Teach them life skills so that if these are followed, there is an excellent chance of success.

Then finally comes the assessment. This is the second assessment in which the teen’s attempts at changing their behavior are put under the microscope. It may take some time for all this to be completed. This is not a quick exam with an instant result. The detailed results will be looked at with the teen who, as so often before, joins in the whole process. What goals were achieved and why? If mistakes have been made, these too need to be discussed.

The aim throughout the entire and on-going process is to build the skills and the confidence of the trouble teen so that they can stand on their two feet and become a valued and valuable member of society.

Here are additional resources you might be interested in:

Get Help from an At-Risk Youth Counselor

Information on At-Risk Youth Behaviors