Medicine, Mind and Adolescence 1996, XI,2

Counselling families faced with the crisis of adolescence

Roberto Marinello

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The family is of vital importance for the equilibrium and development of adolescents. On the one hand, the failure to take into account the family, with its inner mechanisms and its problems, means that an important tool for helping adolescents with their difficulties is being ignored. On the other hand, it often happens that the problems of adolescence can be caused by the fact that parents find it difficult to accept the sexual maturation of adolescents and their need for individuality and freedom.

In this paper three typical profiles of adolescents are reported; these young people were analysed at their parents’ request because of their supposed deviant or difficult behaviour. In all these cases my contribution consisted of:

  • Counselling sessions with the adolescents, during which the need for independence and the importance of the values to be given to their growth experience were stressed. They were helped to understand their difficulties and to evaluate possible solutions.
  • Meetings with their parents, during which they were informed about the psychological and physical changes in adolescence. They were also helped to recognise their children’s potentialities and good qualities.
I am of the opinion that parents are often unable to recognise the changes in behaviour and family relationships that are perfectly normal during adolescence. Since they believe they are faced with a pathological situation, they react in an inadequate, contradictory and excessively authoritative way, thus worsening the crisis rather than helping to solve it. This situation, if is not dealt with quickly, can have detrimental effects, because adolescents who feel they are misunderstood and not supported in their search for an identity may behave in ways that are harmful for their health.

I am, therefore, convinced that it is vitally important that action should be taken together with the parents to find solutions to the distress of youth.

(Paper presented at the Second International Congress of Adolescentology Milan ’94 : Adolescence and Family, Milan, Italy, November 18-19, 1994).

Key Words: family, counselling, adolescence, crisis.

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