Parents of teens – this may interest you:


This is more of an announcement-for-parents-of-teens than my usual blog-style email for everyone on my mailing list. I’m writing to tell you that I’m making a significant change to my practice which might be relevant to you and your teen.

I’m aware that there are many parents among you who are deeply concerned for your teens’ emotional wellbeing. That you’ve been searching for support for them and are possibly on multiple waiting lists – maybe even mine.

Teenager thinking

(Did you know that in 2023 more than 4,000 young people were on waiting lists for mental health ­services – with children in Cork and Kerry worst-hit? And that’s not including private. Shocking…)

As some of you know, I have closed my waiting list again for now. I realise that it is stressful and disappointing when even private therapists won’t even add you to a wait list. But waiting can add to the stress for some – equally it can alleviate it for others. And often, particularly with teens in my experience, things change/resolve during the waiting period.

A couple of years ago I facilitated a parent group online with the aim of supporting waiting parents, and with a curiosity about whether that might reduce the perceived need for therapeutic support for their teens. That is indeed what transpired. (Although I don’t know what has happened in the meantime of course. I hope all is well – feel free, members of the group, to reply to me !)

I have been thinking about how to be more helpful during what I term this current epidemic of ‘de-skilling parents’. If I could create more hours in the week that would help. Failing that…

But y’know, from the outset, 30 years ago(!!) I have encouraged parents to think about whether their child/teen really needs therapy. Or are parents more able than they realise to cope with whatever is coming their way?

Are parents more able than they realise to cope with what is actually normal, but has been almost enthusiastically pathologised by the help ‘industry’? We are awash with diagnoses and labels. I find myself more and more concerned that we are doing this generation of children and teens a great disservice –  in many ways actually, but mental health is my area.

And so, I’ve decided to adjust how I practice. After a discussion with my own supervisor and quite a few parents, I will now offer once off sessions to parents who want me to work with their teens. I am going to keep half a day a week aside specifically for this. I will move this to a full day if the need and benefit arises. After this session, you may decide to continue to wait for your child to be seen by me (or someone else), but you may not.

I tentatively predict more of the latter.  And that’s  ok.

If you decide that therapy is the right course for your child, then I will continue to suggest that I and child/teen work together for 5 sessions. This will remain a suggestion and not a ‘rule’. There will of course be some exceptions. Your child might need and benefit from less, or more.

But what I have learned, is that teens can move quickly once they’re in therapy. It tends to be faster work than work with adults. And so from now I will suggest your teen and I work together for a maximum of 8 sessions. This is not to rush the process. It is more to acknowledge and act on my confidence in teens to manage their own distress with some exploration and support, and my confidence in parents to bear witness, and hold the space.

Teens need parental support more than therapeutic support. But parents don’t always feel capable or aren’t always available – for many different reasons.

Those of you on my waiting list will hear from me in the next week or so with an offer of a once-off session. Whether you’re a colleague or a parent, please feel free to contact me about this shift in/addition to my practice. I’m curious to see how it works. I’m open to it not working of course – I’ve been mistaken about things before!

Let’s give it a go.

PS: Have you a minute to answer a couple of very quick questions about this? Please click here if you have (even less than) a minute to answer 3 quick questions! And thank you sincerely.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.