As a teen boy, your son faces a daunting and compelling constellation of developmental challenges. The male teen mind swirls with questions of identity, connection, belonging, dependency, strength, loyalty and masculinity. It is a time of intense searching and turmoil. “Who am I?” and “How can I fit in?” are burning questions that provide organizing energy and focus, while potentially fueling destructive decision-making.
Individual and Group Therapy sessions at Muir Wood are designed to meet teen boys at their unique development stage. We normalize the intensity and turmoil of this stage of development while reviewing the impact of the choices they have made. In this way we introduce boys to what some experts have called “the male mode of feeling.”
The questions that directly pertain to boy/man development are taken up in an active way. These include considering how a man works, plays, and shows love, anger and nurturance. When does he cry, how does he manage intense feelings, how does he understand and honor the changes in his body, how does he learn and what does he have to teach others? As we meet teen boys at this level of development and normalize not only the intensity but also the critical meaning in these questions, we engage them in a process that ensures they make a project of their recovery and their lives.
Individual Therapy at Muir Wood: An Evidence-Based Approach
Muir Wood boys are helped to navigate this stage and pursue these questions of identity, role, and emerging masculinity in individual psychotherapy sessions conducted by our trained staff of licensed primary therapists. We combine techniques from motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based practices, and other evidence-based techniques.
Through individual therapy at Muir Wood, our clients will:
- Build a toolkit of adaptive and healthy responses to stress, uncertainty and emotion
- Manage feeling states using proven ways of reshaping thinking
- Develop trust and intimacy in a one-on-one relationship that reliably meets the boys’ emotional states
- Experience being heard in the service of developing a more authentic voice
- Learn to feel emotions without reacting in destructive ways
- Develop alternatives to numbing, escaping, blaming, distracting and self-defeating behaviors
- Improve accountability
- Practice self-acceptance and awareness to deepen confidence and value stillness
Group Therapy at Muir Wood
In addition to individual therapy, we utilize group therapy as a core treatment modality in order to provide the boys a structured place where developmental challenges are normalized and shared. In their search to belong and achieve social acceptance, boys will seek a group or tribe where they may find acceptance and strength. Many of the boys who come to Muir Wood have been unable to sustain membership in emotionally reliable and safe groups of peers. In addition, many of the boys at Muir Wood have complicated their efforts to negotiate this complex developmental phase by their use of mood-altering substances.
Benefits of Gender-Specific Group Therapy at Muir Wood
Group therapy provides a number of benefits to your teen socially and emotionally as he rebuilds his life and learns how to have positive interactions with peers. When group therapy is accomplished in a gender-specific setting, it allows boys the safety and security to discuss sensitive underlying issues that might not be addressed in a mixed gender setting. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states that teens in recovery from substance abuse can benefit from group therapy in a number of different ways:
- Positive peer support. Rather than encouraging teens to get high or drink as most peers would, teens in group therapy or other support groups will encourage your child to stay clean and sober.
- Release from isolation. Many teens in recovery feel that they are alone in their fight against drugs and alcohol – that no one else has had to struggle so hard, messed up so often, hurt so many, or been as hurt as they have. Group therapy removes the veil of isolation and allows your son to see that not only is substance abuse a symptom of a larger issue, but that through communication and treatment, long-term recovery is possible.
- A place to share. Your child does not need to keep feelings, frustrations and fears pent up inside. Group therapy provides a place to share those issues and get the support, advice and encouragement necessary to deal with these issues in a safe and structured setting.
- Demonstration that treatment works. Other teens who have been in recovery longer will be able to attest to the effectiveness of treatment by example and help your son stay committed to his recovery.
- The opportunity to learn from the good – and bad – choices of others. In the group setting, teens will share the mistakes they have made as well as stories about good choices that served them in their recovery. Hearing their stories, and sharing his own, will provide your son with support from others as well as the confidence boost of being in a position to assist others in early recovery.
- Intervention when a member is at risk. If a teen’s behaviors are leading to relapse or it is believed that a member of the group is struggling, the group therapy setting provides a positive and natural intervention. Accountability is essential to ongoing recovery, and teens are able to intervene for one another when one is at risk of relapse.
- Family communication practice. When group therapy sessions meet regularly, it can give participants the feeling of family, which also provides them with the opportunity to practice effective communication as well as learn how to manage conflict and ask for help in a way that nurtures relationships.
- Positive peer relationships. Many positive peer interactions turn into friendships that expand beyond the therapy setting and provide an ongoing social support system that can help your son feel more grounded in recovery.