ABSTRACT

One of the most critical aspects of working with high-risk adolescents is the clinician’s personal and theoretical view on behavioral change, or the explicit intention to change behaviors and attitudes. The push for behavioral change is often a charged topic, because it creates a power struggle: most high-risk adolescents either do not see a problem with their behavior and/or do not desire to change it, and most authority figures push, force, and attempt to get them to change their behaviors. As I mentioned in Chapter 1, clinicians can harness certain qualities to become proficient in effectively engaging this population (e.g., authenticity, an intention to connect on a human-being level, and a relaxed stance on behavioral change). The role of behavioral change, how it happens, and our influence as clinicians are all critical elements in the development of a successful therapeutic relationship. Additionally, because most high-risk adolescents are mandated clients (e.g., from parents, caregivers, the court, etc.), clini - cians should expect to encounter frequently the issue of behavioral change (e.g., the effect of parents pushing, or legal system forcing, change).