Therapy with Young Men: 16-24 Year Olds in Treatment

Therapy with Young Men: 16-24 Year Olds in Treatment

Therapy with Young Men: 16-24 Year Olds in Treatment

Therapy with Young Men: 16-24 Year Olds in Treatment


Young adult men in their late teens and early twenties are statistically the least happy of any group of males surveyed. What s more, scholarly research tells us that adolescent boys and young men have the highest rates of behavioral problems, completed suicides, and drug and alcohol problems of any demographic group. They also tend to have greater problems managing their emotions and successfully negotiating close interpersonal relationships, which makes therapy more complex and challenging. However, when done well, therapy with young men can be highly effective and quite rewarding for both the therapist and client.

In Therapy With Young Men, Verhaagen presents a comprehensive model of therapy with young men that addresses each of these concerns, beginning with the rapport and engagement process, and then moving to ways to increase motivation for changing problem behaviors and increasing adaptive skills. The book describes a wide range of novel, effective cognitive-behavioral interventions that can readily be employed in the therapeutic process.



A few years back, I attended a conference presented by a nationally rec ognized therapist. During the Q&A, a member of the audience asked how his model and techniques could be applied to difficult, nontalkative, adolescent males.

The man didn’t pause for a moment. He simply answered, “You just have to take what you can get.”

At that moment, I knew I was going to write this book. All day, I see difficult, nontalkative adolescents and young men, and I would never “just take what I could get.” I want the therapy experience to be an extraordinary experience for them.

Not too long ago, I told the chair of a university’s psychology department that my specialty was therapy with young men.

“God bless you!” she replied, as if I had sneezed, then followed it with, “I can’t imagine…,” her voice trailing off, as if I had just told her I worked on an oil rig or inside Chernobyl. She said it with some sort of mixture of pity and admiration, suggesting that she thought it was something that someone needed to do, just not her.

“I really enjoy it. I think it’s fun,” I said.

“That’s great,” she responded, as if she couldn’t believe such a thing were possible.

These two moments highlight two hopes for you as a therapist who works with adolescent boys and young men. First, I want the experience to be extraordinary, not just something that you put up with or take what you can get. I hope you finish this book with a model and a toolbox full of techniques that make the experience more effective, but I also hope you come to the final chapter with a strong sense of calling to these clients. I hope it is an extraordinary experience for you and your clients.

Second, it’s my hope that you have fun, that you truly enjoy your work with these guys. I want it to be fun for you and your clients. I want it to be work that you look forward to doing every day. My hope is that it is such fun that it feels like you are cheating when you get paid to do it.

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