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It may take a number of sessions of nonjudgmental listening to establish the trust needed for a particular adolescent to share with an adult what he or she is thinking and feeling.
It may take even longer before an adolescent feels comfortable asking an adult for help with an important decision.
Also at the heart of is the theme that today’s adolescent needs one thing that adults seem to have the least surplus of—time. Council of Economic Advisers, teens rated “not having enough time together” with their parents as one of their top problems. A crosscutting theme, regardless of one’s professional role, is the need to communicate effectively with youth.
Professionals must find a way to relate comfortably to adolescents, and be flexible enough to accommodate the wide range of adolescents they are likely to encounter.
And, professionals must recognize that developing effective communication with the adolescents with whom they work requires effort on their part.
Discussing options for using birth control with a physician or telling a school psychologist or social worker that one is feeling depressed or sad generally requires both time and trust.
Professionals may find that the strategies they use to provide information and offer services to adults just don’t work as well with adolescents.