Using Strengths to Build Safe, Supportive Homes

It’s ultimately about helping teens and families use their strengths to build a safe and supportive home.
Whether we’re working with young people from our Crisis Program, youth from our Transitional Living Program, or families who come to us specifically for counseling, the young people and families we serve all face tough challenges. But they also have strengths. We leverage those strengths to help teens and families develop skills they can use to tackle their issues and to grow as individuals and families.

Getting Brian “Home”

When parents and teens don’t see eye to eye, it can lead to a lot of fighting and discord. Sometimes, it leads to depression and even suicidal thoughts.

While 16-year-old Brian was fortunate to have a safe home and a loving family, he wasn’t really “at home” there. When his school referred him to the Family Support Program, Brian wasn’t eating. He wasn’t going to school. In fact, he wasn’t doing much of anything other than spending time in a dark room all day.

His parents were clearly concerned. But a lack of communication as well as cultural differences—Brian’s parents are immigrants, while Brian was born and raised in the U.S.—made it hard for them to connect. Brian’s mom was pushing him to “snap out of it” by getting involved in activities like sports. Problem was, Brain just wasn’t interested. And the things he did want to do were not supported or appreciated by his parents. The constant conflict led to severe depression.

During counseling sessions with Brain and his mom, we helped the family find ways to better understand each other. When mom gave permission for Brian to pursue some of his own interests, such as drama club and math club, Brian began to come out of his shell. In return, Brian also started to show interest in the things that were important to his parents, such as learning about and participating in the family’s culture.
“We knew this family had a lot of strengths and that mom clearly wanted to help her son, she just wasn’t sure how,” says Abbey Wollschleger, LISW-S, Family Support Program Team Leader. “By working with them on communication skills, we helped this family better understand each other and create a much more supportive home. Brian has shown tremendous improvement. He’s not just getting out of bed and going to school now; he is enjoying his life and his relationship with his family.”