When counseling a teenager this is the therapeutic situation that I am wanting to set up with the various parties. This is the best case scenario and actually occurs in varying degrees.
1. In counselling the teenager one is wanting the parents or those people who are responsible for the teenager involved. Most often they are willing to be part of it but at times they refuse to do so or they may simply not be around all that much.
The age of the teenager is directly inverse to the importance of the parents in this process. If the teenager is fourteen years old the parents are central in the therapy process as shown by the diagram. If the teenager is nineteen then they are usually much less involved. However if there is an emeshed family structure then the parents remain pivotal to the process until the child can gain some kind of psychological separation.
2. The diagram is to scale in terms of the relationships of the three parties involved. I am wanting to establish myself off to the side of the relationship between parents and teenager but a bit closer to the teenager side.
3. In the teenagers mind I am wanting to establish myself as a benign confidant and advisor. I am not with the parents and at the same time I am not against the parents. This is at times a hard position to maintain. I try to sit off to the side of the teenager parent relationship in this way.
4. The more emotionally important I become for the teenager the better. I am wanting to be benign in the sense of not seen as an adversary by the teenager but if they can emotionally depend on the me this is a desirable situation.
5. I will actively interfere in the relationship between the parents and the teenager. Indeed I can use this to keep my position off to the side. For instance at times parents need to put limits and controls on the teenager. I will discuss with them how they do this and encourage it. This in one way is not fair to the parents as they take all the heat and it allows me to avoid conflict with the teenager and remain in the position I am in the diagram.