There are many active parties in family therapy: each of the family members and the therapist. While each family member is considered a client by the therapist, the true client is “the family.” The therapist focuses on improving the family dynamics that led to the family to seek professional therapy. While adolescents are given “equal voice” during family sessions, the therapist values and upholds the responsibilities of the parents as the primary decision makers in the family outside of the therapy office.
Family consultations are a different modality because the adolescent is identified as the primary client working with the therapist on a regular basis. One or both parents of the adolescent attends a family consultation session once every five or six sessions at which time the parties discuss the progress of treatment objectives identified for the adolescent as well as ways to improve rapport and trust between the adolescent and the parent(s).
Doug Nelson has been trained to work with adolescents but does not work with children under the age of 14 years in family or individual sessions. Doug strongly recommends that any clinical work with parties ages 13 or under be completed with a clinical specialist who treats children regularly within the scope of her/his clinical practice.