Working with teenage girls in counseling takes up about a third of my practice. I have been working with teenage girls in a counseling setting since April of 2007. If you would have told me while I was in graduate school or in my first job as a counselor that I would be spending the next 5+ years of my career working with teenagers, I would have laughed out loud! The thought of working with teenagers was daunting to me, scary at best. But I had a great supervisor during the years I was working to become licensed who kept encouraging me to think about working with teens. I wanted to get back to NC after living in Georgia for 4 years and of course the job I found was working with teenagers! It was quite humorous to me at the time. Now that I have been working with teenage girls and their families for over 5 years, I cannot imagine anything different for my practice. I love counseling teen girls and love working with them in a family counseling setting too. OK, out of story mode now. What I hear consistently from the teenage girls I see in counseling is that they want to be heard, they want their voice to matter, and they long to be loved deeply after being heard. Once I realized this crucial piece of information, counseling with teenagers became a powerful process. When I took time to really get to know them, to hear their voice, and to know who they were (as much as they knew who they were at the time), something happened. When I kept working to hear them, I earned their respect and our therapeutic relationship grew. They allowed me to speak into their lives and call them on unhealthy behaviors, and sometimes they actually listened to me and changed their actions. Wow, that's the power of relationship! Knowing someone deeply, being allowed to speak deeply into their life, and then seeing them make deep changes as a result. I have truly been honored to walk alongside some amazing teen girls over the past 5 years. I encourage the families I work with to aim for these deep kind of relationships too. Aim to listen long and hard and deeply. And then don't just rush to correct or share your point, just wait, be, sit. Let the teen guide you; they are struggling to know who they are and where they are heading in life. They are grasping for independence they don't yet fully understand but more than fully desire. Listen to them, let them ask you into their world, and when they do let you in (and they will!), listen well and make sure they know you love them so deeply! They long to be heard, known and loved deeply. If communicating with your teenager is difficult at best, consider family counseling. It can be such a powerful experience to improve upon your communication and deepen your relationships within your family!