“I am recently separated and am a little worried about my teenaged kids. They seem to be having trouble with the situation between their dad and me — there is a lot of conflict. The younger child attends the Rainbows program and finds it a great relief. The teens are too old for that program (I doubt they would go anyway). They don’t want to see a counsellor and they aren’t talking to me or their dad about their feelings. Are there any suggestions you have for how to help my kids talk about what it’s like for them?”
With the recent separation, there are certainly a lot of challenging issues playing out for your teens.
Depending on your family’s circumstances, you are probably witnessing feelings of loss, anger, responsibility, confusion, shame, or perhaps even relief that the family has been divided. How well your family communicated before, during, and since the separation is also significantly affecting your teens at this time.
Overall, you are right to be concerned about their well-being during this tumultuous time. I think it’s important to acknowledge your courage and insight in this moment, to see that your teens are hurting, and that they would benefit from talking about their personal experiences. As their parent, you probably know you may not presently be the ideal sounding board for their strong feelings.
As kids sort through their emotions following separation, high levels of conflict and a tangle of conflicting family loyalties can create significant difficulty for kids. Expressing emotions safely and effectively is key, however, your teens may not feel comfortable talking to you or their dad, and find the idea of walking into a counselling office intimidating or unappealing. When teens aren’t talking, there are alternatives. Your question is quite timely because Pacific Therapy & Consulting Inc. is offering an online counselling program for teens affected by separation or divorce.
The program, called Connect, is a pilot project developed and run by Caroline Bradfield.
Connect is an innovative peer support group program. Teens will participate for one month in an online, confidential small group forum, moderated by a counsellor. At this time the program is open to youth between 16 and 18 and will provide an opportunity for kids to talk about the issues facing them.
Online therapy is rapidly being accepted as both a cost-effective and highly successful medium and group experiences often provide rapid entry points into personal impacts.
This interactive forum runs through the month of June, and explores group driven topics specifically relevant to these youth. Cost for this pilot project is $25, however the fee may be waived if necessary. We don’t want anyone to miss out on this opportunity.
For more information about the program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Pacific Therapy at 250-338-2700.
If you would like to ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail them at email@example.com. Consult a Counsellor is provided by the registered clinical counsellors at Pacific Therapy & Consulting: Nancy Bock, Diane Davies, Leslie Wells and Andrew Lochhead. It appears every second Friday.