MrsR asks:

I need more counseling skills for my high school learners with drug abuse and very emotional neglected

Learners battle to open up - do not trust me - they become very aggressive when confronted - i need more skills to gain their trust and to help them on their road to self acceptance -
In Topics: Teen alcohol and substance abuse
> 60 days ago



Boys Town National Hotline
Jul 30, 2009
Subscribe to Expert

What the Expert Says:

Thank you for writing to with your request for information on how to best counsel at risk high school students.  As you mention, teens with emotional needs and substance abuse issues are sometimes slow to trust which really complicates your impact as a counselor.  
The Boys Town organization is commited to saving children and healing families.  In our residential program, we work with youth who have come from abusive backgrounds and have been using substances to cope.  They have yet to develop the social skills that will allow them to find success.  We find that through the teaching of social skills, we are able to establish strong relationships with teens while setting firm limits.  
Our intitial teaching focuses on the skills of accepting authority such as following directions, accepting decisions, accepting no answers and accepting feedback.  In addition, we teach teens various easy problem solving methods.  Through our focus on basic social skills we help youth to achieve quick success which lays the foundation for additional skill acquisition.  
Youth that succeed with accepting authority are better able to focus on the development of appropriate, healthy coping strategies, improving relationships, and setting goals.  We believe that by offering this teaching we build strong relationships with teens.  Youth very quickly learn a recipe for success and in fact can experience that success in the classroom, in school hallways, in their homes and their communities.  With success comes greater trust.
Keep your expectations consistent by teaching skills constently and by offering rationales that make sense as to how the behavior will be of benefit to them.  Teens feel safe with social skills teaching; in addition, our research shows that our systems really work.
If you would like more information on our programs, please don't hesitate to visit our website or look through some of the materials we offer through our press department.
Thank you again for your question.

Boys Town National Hotline
Did you find this answer useful?

Additional Answers (1)

hlevitan , Teacher writes:
Mrs. R,

It must be difficult to get emotionally neglected teenagers to open up to you.  It is great that you are trying to reach out to them.  Gaining trust is a gradual process that takes time.  Some of your students may eventually open up to you, and others may never do so.  Either way, it is important that you stay patient.  As an educator it is your duty to provide them a high quality learning experience and a safe classroom environment.  

Depending on the subject you teach, you can incorporate topics that may springboard class discussions about issues they care about.  Having your students participate and share their opinion openly in class is a great start to building a sharing, safe classroom environment.  While you cannot fix their home situations, you can help them think more deeply and critically in the classroom.  The knowledge, skills, and values you teach in the classroom will hopefully empower them.

As a fellow teacher, I respect how you want to help your students by learning about them and having them share with you.  If you want your students to open up to you, you need to first open up to them.  Share stories from your life about times you have overcome hardship.  By opening up to them, they may feel more comfortable coming to you.

Many times, in these situations, it is best to refer students to social workers and other support personnel at the school.  Working together with other school staff will provide your students more support; by communicating with these staff you will also gain another perspective for helping them.

This article “About Youth Development” provides useful information about the pressures teenagers face today and how you can help teens.

Here are articles concerning teenagers and substance abuse:

Have faith in your ability, and your students will have faith in theirs.

Best wishes,

> 60 days ago

Did you find this answer useful?
Answer this question


You are about to choose ${username}'s answer as the best answer.

Cancel | Continue

*You can change the best answer in the future if you think that you received a better answer

How likely are you to recommend to your friends and colleagues?

Not at all likely
Extremely likely