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Adolescent Psychotherapy: A Radical Relational Approach

$49.99  Paperback
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Bronagh Starrs

  • Adolescent Psychotherapy
  • Adolescent Psychotherapy
    Offers rich, practical insights & strategies, grounded and unified by the clear relational perspective

184 pages
ISBN: 9781138624290

Counsellors and psychotherapists are faced with ever-increasing complexity in their work with adolescents. In this book, Bronagh Starrs offers an understanding of developmental and therapeutic process from a relational-phenomenological Gestalt perspective.

Starrs shows how the adolescent's presenting symptom issues are statements of compromised lifespace integrity and demonstrates therapeutic sensibility to the adolescent's first-person experience. Throughout the book, the clinician is offered extensive relational and creative strategies to support integrity repair for the adolescent. The developmental impact of various lifespace contexts are discussed, including parental separation, complex family configuration, grief, adoption, and emerging sexual orientation and gender experience. Therapeutic responses to common creative adjustments are explored including anxiety, school refusal, depression, self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, alcohol and drug use, and sexual trauma.

Adolescent Psychotherapy: A Radical Relational Approach will help counsellors and psychotherapists to develop deeper levels of competency in their work as adolescent psychotherapists, as they navigate the complex and fascinating experience of therapy with teenagers. This exceptional contribution is highly suitable for both experienced practitioners and students of counselling and psychotherapy.

Table of Contents


  1. Development, Shame & Lifespace Integrity
  2. Contact Assessment
  3. Ongoing Parental Involvement
  4. One-to-One Engagement with the Adolescent
  5. Separation & Complex Family Configuration
  6. Complex Parenting Spaces: Adoption, Fostering & Loss
  7. Anxiety, Depression, Self-Harm & Suicide
  8. Eating Disorders
  9. Alcohol & Drugs
  10. Sexuality & Gender: Emerging Identity & Boundary Development
  11. Sexual Trauma
  12. The Diagnosed Adolescent
  13. Case Management

"This practical and sensitive book should be in the hands of every adolescent psychotherapist. Bronagh Starrs brings both therapist and 'parenting adults' to hear the young person's often devastated experience - lost, confused, excluded, and so on. Then the disturbing behavior begins to make sense to everyone, and often to become less necessary. So well-written that it is hard to put down, this book is a humanistic treasure."
- Donna M. Orange, PhD, PsyD, author of The Suffering Stranger: Hermeneutics for Everyday & Clinicians and Humanitarians: The Ethical Turn in Psychoanalysis

"Every committed teacher waits their career for that student who not only 'gets' what they are trying to teach, but gets it better than they do themselves, taking an insight or perspective to a new place, revealing entirely new implications and applications. For me, that student has been Bronagh Starrs. Over the years, I have watched her develop a brilliant vision and a fierce commitment to understanding and healing troubled adolescents. If you work with adolescents and their families, read this book; and then read it again. It will change the way you work."
- Mark McConville, Ph.D., author of Adolescence: Psychotherapy and the Emergent Self

"Not since McConville?s eminently readable and accessible book, Adolescence, have I read such an informative, readable, and humane book on therapy with suffering adolescents. In every chapter, her love and practical wisdom shine through her words. A trove of helpful inspiration and ideas, as well as theory to support your practice, for anyone who treats adolescents."
- Lynne Jacobs, Ph.D., co-founder of the Pacific Gestalt Institute, and Training and Supervising analyst at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles

"I once saw an expert kayaker take only one precise paddle stroke before calmly navigating a terrifying rapid. This image was brought to mind while reading Bronagh Starrs' incisive reflections and advice about the best ways to help adolescents in the therapeutic context. She provides keen recommendations on how to help teens keep their own boats from rolling during tricky passages. She also makes clear how therapists can maintain, in her words, "robust composure during decidedly tense moments." All of us who either have teenagers or work with them will benefit from her expertise."
- Peter Mortola, Ph.D., Professor of Counseling and School Psychology at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and the author of Windowframes: Learning the art of Gestalt play therapy the Oaklander way

"For years colleagues have raved to me about Bronagh Starrs? work with adolescents and their worlds; -- now I understand why. This book is essential reading not only for therapists, counselors, teachers, and others who work with adolescents (or with their parents), but also for the parents and families themselves, and others who live with adolescents, love them, are alternately charmed and frustrated by them (and frustrate them in their turn), find them at times uncommunicative, unpredictable, even maddening, (and of course drive their adolescent loved ones crazy as well) -- and/or all of the above! Starrs places the emphasis of her approach right where outcome research shows it should be: on the therapeutic relationship itself, that crucial contact space which precedes and underlies all the acronyms and "how-to's" or ordinary models of other manuals. If this is a "how-to" book, it's about how to build that "meaningful therapeutic relationship," on which everything else depends. The goal and result are not just the "fixing" of a temporary symptom, but a restoration of healthy development and growth. Each chapter offers rich, practical insights, grounded and unified by this clear relational perspective. I've been in practice for over 40 years, have raised six adolescents, and my foster son is now a high school principal in his later thirties. And in the chapter on Fostering, for example, I read insights that I wish I had had twenty years ago when he was in his turbulent years. Thank you, Bronagh Starrs, for this gift to all of us who live and work with the issues of this great inflection-stage of life, and through us to our clients, students, children, grandchildren and others."
- Gordon Wheeler, Ph.D., President and CEO, Esalen Insititue, Big Sur, California, and author of Gestalt Therapy, co-editor (with Mark McConville) of The Heart of Development: Gestalt Approaches to Children, Adolescents, and their Worlds