Individual Adult & Adolescent Therapy

Therapy is by its nature, a ‘made-up’ relationship, surrounded by confidences, artificial intimacy, and a tentative sense of adventure.

And it’s the best place to learn the value and intricacies of authentic relationships when such authenticity is a new phenomenon for the client. It starts out…well, just weird, and if it works the way it’s designed, it just gets stranger.

tree split for pathway
…where there was no way

…because A STRANGER is allowed behind the curtain, privy to lies and truths, trials and triumphs, fears and fantasies, and beneath the surface where the masks rest uneasily.

This person is trained to tread lightly and expected to work miracles, yet the miracles are already available and are within the grasp of clients who stop trying so hard, let go of their NEED TO KNOW-the demand for answers–it’s not the answers that matter anyway. It’s the questions that reveal the vital stuff.

When you agitate the deepest of waters, things begin to surface and not all of it feels very good. It is the questions that poke, awaken, and rile the mind.

That’s where I begin the process.

I ask a LOT of questions but I am not looking for miracles or even answers…I’m looking for an opening in the clouds where the Light can break through and show us the next step.

When I speak to the stranger on the phone for the first time, I am cognizant of the fear, uncertainty, and probability that the caller is hoping for a “sign” that their search is over and they have found the one with the answers.

I give them questions and the assurance that their quest for answers will only end when the answers no longer matter. When they let go of the need, somehow, it gets met.

Where there appears to be no pathway, no road, and no obvious way to move forward, suddenly an opening appears and road stretches out before us, and we are in AWE.

woman walking on thin ice
walking on thin ice

No matter who the client or the ‘issues” may be, the early parts of the process can feel like walking on very thin ice.

MFTs are not restricted to seeing only relational clients, [families, couples, parent-child dyads]. Even when we see an individual adult or adolescent, the first universal truth that lands in the middle of the intake is:

  • first, this individual CAME FROM SOMEWHERE– people around from early days left indelible marks on the life of this person. This is the universal seed of all human systems: we all come from somewhere, and we are all headed to some where - these elements influence and are influenced BY the others. Oddly enough, we may be unfamiliar with either of these ‘truths.’

  • second, if I look for [& find] the marks– like a reverse road map to where this person went off the trail and got a little lost, I become like an accident investigator-the evidence tells the story. I find a good place to start identifying assumptions, biases, and lies the client may have been believing.

Once you accept a lie as true, you begin to reflect that lie into every aspect of your life.

If you find the rambling around in circles problematic enough to call for information about therapy, I may get a phone call from you one day.

Individual clients make up about half of my caseload. They are in all age groups, walks of life, education levels, cultural groups, and personality types. They teach me as much about me as I observe about them, and it humbles me.

My own perceptions must shift a little bit with every new client–if I am to be of any help at all, I must position myself such that I can see you–your life, relationships, and obstacles through YOUR eyes. This can be rewarding and encouraging to those on both sides of the therapeutic space. While many of my methods, theories, and applications may be similar to other providers, I have to admit I am just different…and that’s okay. It may or may not work for a given client. We’ll find that out pretty quickly.

Ways I try to make a difference in the lives of clients are:

seaswept girl
no need to travel the route all alone
  • I try to make good use of client time. I typically offer at least a full hour to clients because I don’t understand the concept of a “50-minute-hour.” It’s important to me that clients find their work worth the resources they devote in good faith.

    Value is necessary for meaning to surface.

I seek a balance between too comfortable and the edge of agitation–restlessness that signals a layer of tectonic material struggling to surface.

If it happens too quickly, it can feel overwhelming. If it waits too long, it can be agonizing and frightening. It’s my job to prepare you for either potential.

  • Throughout our journey together, we target issues which may be impeding growth under the client’s radar. Some of these the client can easily acknowledge and some are buried deep, waiting to be excavated in the context of safety. I may use less traditional approaches to consider areas where an individual is “stuck” to free the client, and encourage application of new self-knowledge.

    • “Jump-starting” methods including brain hemisphere “crossover”, movement, sand-tray, art tasks, sensory grounding, music or video, and imagery. While I do not offer hypnosis as a type of therapy, some activities are naturally hypnotic in their focus on relaxation.
  • Areas explored in individual work include (but are not limited to) identity development, spiritual growth, loss and grief, forgiveness, complex trauma, life transitions including impacts of aging and “empty nest” syndrome, painful childhood events, personality/relational patterns, values, priorities, habits and foundations, attachment (bonding with caregivers) injuries, and dream-work.
girl on pier alone
despite how it feels, you’re never really alone
  • Adolescents (including Pre-teens) experience a unique set of challenges, such as incomplete self-knowledge and determination, personal identity, social development and communication changes as they become young adults, and struggles with cultural bombardment of messages they may have difficulty understanding and integrating into a workable worldview.

      • I understand these unique challenges are not simply experienced by the adolescent, but the entire family shares the confusion and often frustrating array of new “realities”, so I use a combined approach of individual and family work to help ease the journey from childhood to adulthood for all members of the family system.
  • Individual adults may find it beneficial to include family, friends, or other important people for limited sessions designed to widen the clients’ perspective in helping to understand dynamics in their pasts. Such individuals are considered “supplemental” to the client’s work, not actual members of the therapy team. Precise reasons for inclusion of others, role clarification, and clear explanation of limits of confidentiality, are all addressed prior to inviting anyone else into the process.

I work hard to develop and maintain a therapeutic relationship which can sustain sometimes difficult challenges to a client’s “status quo” so forward progress may be maintained.

Saying difficult things is no easier than hearing them. I regularly offer clients an opportunity to point out what is helpful and less than helpful in our work; in doing so, I must also be willing to hear difficult things.

canvas road
Life offers a dusty, lonely, and sometimes treacherous path. Travel light.

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If you or someone you know needs mental health crisis management, please contact a professional medical or mental health provider as soon as possible. The owner/author of this site intends only to offer general information and all material is subject to change without notice.

Nothing posted on this site is intended as professional guidance or therapeutic advice of any kind. If you find the material helpful, that’s its intent, but please understand your use of the site should under NO CIRCUMSTANCE be considered a professional therapeutic (or personal) relationship between the user and the author of this site. Leslie LaRo Hayes, Ph.D., LMFT, assumes no responsibility for discomfort or other loss that may result from decisions made after utilizing any part of this website.