4 Tips for Working with Marginalized Youth During the Holidays

As I entered the juvenile hall to teach a Thursday evening meditation class many years ago, I tried to prepare myself for the level of emotion that might arise: it was Thanksgiving Day. In hindsight, I don’t know if I could’ve better prepared myself for that evening. Youth were emotional because they were incarcerated and …

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3 Essential Tips for Working with Limited English Proficiency Youth

During a meeting at a refugee assistance organization, a psychologist described a problem she was having with one of her clients. “I think he must be lying about how he got to the U.S.” she said. “I mean, given the rest of his story, how could he possibly have been in Iceland?” The young man …

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Trauma and the Brain: An Introduction for professionals working with teens

Trauma can be defined as a deeply distressing response to a real or perceived threat to one’s life. Trauma can result from events including, but not limited to, getting physically or sexually assaulted, sudden death of family members or close friends, being emotionally abused or neglected throughout one’s childhood, the result of a catastrophic environmental …

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6 Ways to Check-In with Teens

Group work with teens can be both challenging and extremely rewarding. One of the responsibilities we as facilitators are charged with is mixing up content to curtail boredom—the feeling in youth that can easily snowball into disengagement, detachment, and less buy-in. When facilitating group work, whether it’s therapy-based, skills-based, or even a traditional classroom (yes …

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Substance Abuse Treatment Does NOT Happen In A Vacuum

Most of us know that working with teens can be challenging. For those of us conducting drug treatment, we this can be an uphill battle that’s so difficult that we can’t stay attached to outcome, or we’d be constantly disappointed. Oftentimes teens that are chronic drug users have no interest in stopping their use, an …

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3 Basic Counseling Skills for Working With Teens

Working with teens has its own unique set of challenges and often times as providers we’re relegated to positions of listener, mentor, and guide, regardless of whether or not we’re actual therapists or counselors. I have known many teachers who build authentic relationships with their students and in turn their students feel more comfortable talking …

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Why Setting Boundaries Are Critical To Healthy Relationships with Teens

As I approach facilitating the fourth installment of the Mindfulness-Based Substance Abuse Treatment (MBSAT) Curriculum Certification this weekend, I find myself contemplating what some of the most important aspects of working with teens are. Being authentic, present, compassionate, and intentionally fostering a genuine relationship are of critical importance, as I’ve written about in other posts. …

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Why Mindfulness is a Good Skill for Teens to Learn

Later this week I will have the privilege of connecting with over 300 hundred teachers, therapists, and other professionals working with teens interested in the intersection between mindfulness and youth work. This will happen at the annual Bridging The Hearts and Minds of Youth conference in San Diego, CA, and I’m lucky enough to be …

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Self-care is self-love: The most critical skill in the direct service industry

With Valentines Day recently passing, the media has flooded us with everything about love, relationships, and making our sweethearts feel great. Rarely when Valentines Day rolls around however, do we talk about a form of love that is so critical that its absence can cause an immense amount of personal suffering: love of ourselves. Self-love …

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3 Tips for Working with Resistant Teens

Working with teens can be a very fulfilling and rewarding endeavor. It can also be very challenging. Teens can test boundaries and become resistant to counseling interventions, classroom curriculum, or even towards us as adults personally. Ultimately this has the potential to make our work lives more difficult. But what if there was a way …

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