The Art of Therapy with Teenagers

I have years of clinical experience working with teens and their families. In addition to private practice, I have worked in schools, universities, and clinical settings with teenagers. Working with teens is different from working with either adults or younger children. It is a delicate balance of connecting with the teen on their level and in their world, while incorporating clinical knowledge, direction, and solutions. My years of working with teenagers have allowed me to fine-tune my therapy with them to achieve what I call “the art of therapy with teenagers.”

When parents call to schedule the first appointment for their teen, they very often tell me that their child does not want to go to therapy. But then, after the first session with me, the teen almost always tells their parents that they would like to return. They realize that I am their ally, someone to talk to, receive support from, trust, and receive direction and guidance from. I make it a point to create a warm environment where teens feel relaxed, accepted and comfortable.

For the teenager, I am young enough where they feel I “get it”. Through my years of clinical practice with this age group, I understand their culture, their “lingo”, and most importantly, the enormous pressures they are faced with being teenagers in today’s world.

For the parents, I am an expert who has the professional training, wisdom, and life experience, and I know how to help their teen overcome whatever challenge they face. By blending a teen-friendly atmosphere with my clinical knowledge and expertise, every teenager can make progress and experience personal growth.

While it is important to listen with a supportive ear, I have found that teens respond best with therapy that is interactive, direct, and results-oriented. I offer teens clear skills, tools, direction and guidance. In addition, I make it a point to involve the family in the therapy when appropriate. Kids don’t grow up in a vacuum, and the family’s involvement at different points during the therapy is often important for reaching our goals.

I firmly believe that integrated healthcare is the cornerstone to quality health care.  This means that mental health providers, patients/families, schools, and other health professionals should work together to provide the best possible care.  That being said, I will always discuss this coordination with you in developing your treatment plan, and you will always be in charge of deciding who is to be involved.

My treatment specializations for teenagers include, but are not limited to:

  • Cutting / Self-Injurious Behavior
  • Issues Specific to Teenage Girls
  • Poor School Performance
  • Defiant Behaviors
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger / Irritability
  • Stress Management
  • Parent / Child Relationship Difficulties
  • Eating Disorders
  • Isolation from Friends/Family
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse
  • Loss, Grief and Bereavement
  • Learning Difficulties
  • Self-Esteem Issues
  • Trauma

What Parents have said

"I was skeptical about the value of family therapy. First, I was brought up to keep things private. Secondly, I never really bought in to the idea that an outside person could help a private situation. Well, you changed all that! When our daughter became a teenager, I had to do something! It was like she turned into someone we didn’t recognize. You helped us all understand how to listen to one another, and get down to the truth. I can happily say that we are on the right track now. Thank You!"

—Parents of 15 year old girl, Newport Beach, CA


"Dr. Kress, you have been our true north.  I don't know what we would have done without you.  Thank you doesn't begin to express our gratitude."

__Parents of 15 year old girl, Los Angeles, CA

"As parents, one of the most difficult situations is knowing that your child is depressed and is in emotional pain, and feeling helpless to fix it. Dr. Kress, thank you for giving us our daughter back. That smile you now see on her face is in large part because of you. She is now taking challenges in her life in stride which is a good indication that the work that you have done has been life changing for her, and for that I will be eternally grateful. Thank you so much."

—Parents of 17 year old girl, Dana Point, CA

"Thank you Dr. Kress, not only for helping our daughter, but for helping our family as a whole. You helped us through our issues with compassion, firmness, and a touch of humor. You worked hard, we worked hard, and it paid off. The impact on our life is ongoing."

—Parents of 13 year old girl, Laguna Niguel, CA

Thank You Dr. Kress, for being the one therapist who was able to reach my daughter. We had almost lost hope -- having been to several other professionals who claimed to have the ability to cure our daughter’s self-mutilation. You brought us out of our despair with your gifts for understanding. The practical tools you gave our daughter made the difference in bringing her through this difficult and scary time."

—Parents of 15 year old girl, Los Angeles, CA

"When we first brought our daughter in to see you, she was cutting herself almost daily and told us she was not going to talk to you because she didn’t need help. By the time she walked out of her first session with you, something in her had clearly changed. Not only did she want to return to see you, but she was actually open to the idea of stopping her self-injury. As I write this approximately a year later, my daughter has not only stopped cutting herself, but she is a much happier, confident, and well-rounded girl. Our family will be forever grateful for the work that you did with her. Her life is now going down a very good path."

—Parents of 13 year old girl, Irvine, CA

Parents, learn about steps you can take if you think your teen is depressed or cutting.