“I unintentionally created ABC in 2009 when I received a phone call from a mother seeking services for her 19 year old son. This young man had a long history of behavioral, legal, and substance abuse issues and was aggressively acting out towards his parents. It seemed like a tough case and the family had tried every option from rehab to therapy. Both the kid and the parent were just stuck. I didn’t really have an exact solution at the time, but decided to simply spend time with him each day until I figured something out. The results were incredibly positive.”
– Michael Harmann
Many amazing, practical plans of action are devised in therapy sessions that unfortunately never get realized. The ABC approach was designed to make a connection between therapy and life outside sessions by providing someone to spend time with the teen or young adult outside the office. This helps them begin the process of putting things discussed into action. Whether the client is struggling to get out of bed, keep his or her cool, or stay sober, having a masters-level person around that is safe, nonjudgemental, and relatable, has proven to help move the situation in the right direction. This approach has worked well either in conjunction with therapy or as an independent service.
THE PRIMARY APPROACH:
Our Approach varies with each family and client but working together starts with a phone call and some questions. From there we decide whether or not to schedule our first meeting.
Between the first call and the first meeting parents are asked to gather as much info on the child as possible. The list includes things like psych testing, grades, what music they like, if their room is messy, what they eat, anything and everything that Mom and Dad can think of that will help the consultant gain some familiarity with the kid/client prior to the introductory meeting or “intervention.”
The intro meeting or “intervention” is the first time the consultant meets the client. The logistics, structure and tone of the first meeting varies greatly. In most cases the parents are surprised when the meeting ends with the client and the consultant driving off to get some coffee or walk the mall or something. Even if the first meeting doesn’t end in hugs and kisses it marks the beginning of change.
Now that the wheels are turning, the consultant will search for ways to insert him or herself into the client’s life. Ideally the consultant can take over part of the daily routine like picking up from school and or doing some activity the client is interested in. Depending on the age of the client, the activity could be restoring cars at the ABC workshop or walking on the beach. We look for opportunities to spend time with the client where the activity is not talking. We have found that in a more natural setting, where there is no pushing for information, the consultant is poised well to get a sense of the client. Our primary goal in the beginning is to assess for the level of danger and determine immediate first steps. To some of our clients, danger, is not getting into college, for others it’s life or death due to drugs.
Once the sharp edges have been rounded a bit and we are no longer in crisis mode we figure out ways to stay out of crisis mode and move toward some level of sustainability. From here the consultant’s involvement organically decreases over time.
Adolescent Behavioral Consulting offers customized
in-person, online, and/or phone support to parents and their teens
in North Carolina as well throughout the United States.
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