August 2014

(NO) Help Wanted!

Understanding Your Teen's Objections To Therapy

When parents call In Step seeking a social skills group for their teenager, they are often quite clear in their description of the unique difficulties their child faces dealing with peers at school, on teams, in their neighborhood and at home. We discuss their concerns, try to answer their questions and, in many cases, schedule an evaluation to determine whether we can help. Before the call ends, parents often ask for suggestions as to how they might approach this sensitive issue with their child.

Here are some of the most common objections and thoughts on how to handle them:

1. I can deal with my own problems. I don't need help.

Admitting to any vulnerability during adolescence is frequently seen (especially by boys) in all or nothing terms. Let your child know that you understand their reluctance, but accepting help is not a sign of weakness. Participation will serve to increase self-confidence and foster a greater sense of independence.

Group is a place to:
  • sharpen social skills
  • learn to make friends and sustain relationships
  • learn to trust oneself and others
  • grow in self acceptance
  • recognize that others struggle too
  • becoming more assertive while learning to vent anger appropriately
  • learn to reach out to others and give and receive support from the group

2. I have my own friends I can talk with about my feelings. Why should I meet with total strangers?

Teens find friends with whom they have common interests (natural groups). Exclusive lunch tables at school, for example, (jocks, computer gamers, gothics etc.) reinforce one's sense of identity, but limit a true and comprehensive view of daily life. Social skills groups are derived from many sub-groups and offer the valuable advantage of variety and perspective in navigating the full range of experience in the world of adolescence. Groups can broaden your horizons.

3. What's so good about group?

Group can be a safe haven, your own place to discuss the whole range of issues encountered while moving through the gauntlet of adolescence. It's an opportunity to discuss common concerns and no longer feel isolated with "unacceptable" thoughts and problems. Teens learn that others have faced similar challenges. Group is a supportive, non-judgmental place to offer and receive honest advice and to test out new ways of relating to people. As members become comfortable, they are encouraged to use the group as a laboratory to experiment by trying out new roles in a social situation. A shy person can practice being more assertive without fear of ridicule. Members who tend to turn away potential friendships by talking too much can learn to listen before they speak.

4. How can I be sure that my personal information won't be used against me?

Confidentiality promotes trust and encourages open and honest discussion. What goes on in group, stays in group. While teens understand that information must be shared if they should talk of plans to harm themselves or others, it is important that parents assure them that group privacy will be respected.

Should you feel that your child could benefit from this type of therapeutic environment, please send an email to or call our Fairfax office at 703-876-8480 or our Sterling office at 703-433-5771 for more information. We are in the process of conducting evaluations for our fall groups.

Thank you,

Ron Lieberman LCSW, CGP

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Group Psychotherapist, Mr. Lieberman received a MA degree in psychology from Goddard College and his MSW from Catholic University.  After completing his graduate degrees, Mr. Lieberman worked at Dominion Hospital, Northwest Center for Community Mental Health and Fairfax County Public Schools.  While working for the school system, Mr. Lieberman spent much of his clinical career at a high school center for emotionally disabled students.  He later became senior social worker in charge of supervising all special education social workers in FCPS and then supervised social workers assigned to all schools in Clusters I, II and VIII.  Mr. Lieberman is certified by the Commonwealth of Virginia to supervise candidates for Clinical Licensure.  During the past 15 years, Mr. Lieberman has been a mental health therapist at In Step.  He works with individuals, families and has a passion for leading adolescent social skills groups.


Want more insight from Cathi? Sign up to receive Cathi's blog via email every time she posts.

go to to subscribe to our blog

Please connect with us!

 Follow us on TwitterLike us on FacebookView our profile on LinkedInFind us on Google+Visit our blog
Stay Connected
Like us on Facebook    Follow us on Twitter    View our profile on LinkedIn    Find us on Google+ 
8500 Executive Park Avenue, Suite 204, Fairfax, VA 22031
6 Pidgeon Hill Drive, Suite 200, Sterling, VA 20165