Sometimes Our "Worst" Clients Are Our Best Teachers
By Martha Straus - My young client, Brian, can reduce even confident mid-life adults to an infantile puddle, one provocative comment at a time. He's a therapist's nightmare. But he’s also the universe's gift to me. He measures my commitment to the work, to him, to my ideas about therapy, to my best self.
The Cornerstone of a Strong Therapeutic Alliance
Familiarity and predictability aren't always the best course of action when we're trying to encourage our clients to change, but there are times when they can provide much-needed comfort. According to Martha Straus, an expert in working with kids and teens, young people are among those who need this familiarity the most, especially when they've experienced attachment trauma. In the following clip, she explains how regular appointments and check-in phone calls serve a healing purpose.
Four Tips for Strengthening the Therapeutic Alliance
By Martha Straus - For me, working with girls is what I do with the greatest interest and passion. I have wells of empathy to draw on, and can stay attuned with them more easily than with males. Our bond is implicit, and by being as fully authentic, connected, and present as I know how, I help them make it explicit. Here are four of the biggest lessons I've learned in my therapeutic work with adolescent girls.
Three Strategies to Rewire Young Brains for Safety and Attachment
By Martha Straus - What we therapists have to offer our young clients, more than anything, is our well-regulated, fully developed adult brain, with its mature capacity for awareness, perspective, appraisal, curiosity, and forgiveness on full display. According to the approach I use, Developmental-Relational Therapy, we’re both the mechanism of change and the intervention. Here are a few strategies that can rewire the teen brain for safety and intimacy.
Your Adult Child Just Moved Back Home. But Is It Normal?
By Martha Straus - Today, about 25 million young adults between between 18 and 34 are currently residing with their parents. In its basic form, this story holds that most emerging adults still living at home are wretched, entitled, or manipulative. But the new bungee family offers emerging adults---and our fragmented social fabric---a healing alternative, one that's injecting the best social capital available into the human mix.
Optimizing Connection with Teenage Clients by Understanding Your Own Attachment Style
For a child to develop, adults need to “loan” them their adult regulatory system. But being a self-aware, engaged, and compassionate therapist isn't automatic. To play our part, we must first foster our own capacity to self-regulate before we can demand it of a terrified or furious teen. Attachment is a two-way street: it’s not just about them.
How Being Calm and Collected Gets Us Connected
In this brief video clip, child psychologist and Symposium 2016
presenter Martha Straus discusses the benefit of using co-regulation with a young client in trouble.
Martha Strauss on the Merits of Enduring Connection with Our Adult Children
Just a generation ago, the child-rearing contract was clearly designed to last for about 18 years. By the time we'd finished high school, it was more than reasonable for our parents to assume that we'd move out and one way or another start to stand on our own two unsubsidized feet. But today, growing numbers of the emerging adults (and parents) I treat are trying to stay deeply connected, rather than separate from each other. These days, I'm working to support them, rather than to challenge their dependence.
10 Ways to Improve Your Therapy with Adolescent Girls
Working with girls in therapy is what I do with the greatest interest and passion. Like many female therapists who have this specialty, I had my own tough times as a teenager. I have wells of empathy to draw on, and can stay attuned with them more easily than with males, or females of other ages. Our bond is implicit, and by being as fully authentic, connected, and present as I know how, I help them make it explicit. Thus the thoughts that follow are largely informed by my 20-odd years of experience treating adolescent girls and their families. They synthesize what's helped me forge alliances with them quickly and inspire change.
Connecting with Traumatized Kids who Push Your Buttons
By the end of the hour, even when we begin with her raging and sobbing, Jenna usually leaves more cheerfully. She’s much less reactive than when she entered, and, best of all, we’re more in sync. When I’m able to be present in this way, my cooler, more regulated brain lowers the emotional temperature of her hot head. Over the year or so that we’ve been meeting regularly, she’s allowing me to comfort her more and more, using me more effectively for soothing. This is the wonder of what I call Time In.