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Paul Morgan: mental health advisor

Paul Morgan is Deputy Director of SANE Australia, the mental health charity. He is a leading expert in promoting understanding of mental illness in the community. ASK ME A QUESTION

Troublesome teenager

Friday, April 23, 2010
"If anything is to change, then it is highly likely that it will involve a specialist in this area: a psychologist or family therapist who is experienced in dealing with such situations."
Topics:
teen issues

Question:

My 13-year-old granddaughter refuses to attend high school. When she does she gets into fights at school, refuses to participate in classes and takes out her frustration on her mother. Her grades in primary school were dismal also due to non-attendance. ,p>Her parents divorced 10 years ago and my granddaughter has been unable to deal with this, particularly as her father remarried and has totally rejected her. Her mum has tried everything, but is scared of her daughter's threats of violence towards her. Could you offer some advice on how to manage this situation?

Answer:

Your granddaughter's behaviour must be very upsetting for you, and for the whole family — herself included, of course. From what you say, the relationship with her mother has largely broken down, and she is behaving in a generally aggressive and hostile manner to those around her. These are not the actions of a happy or secure person.

If anything is to change, then it is highly likely that it will involve a specialist in this area: a psychologist or family therapist who is experienced in dealing with such situations.

There are no "easy answers", then, as you might guess, and any improvement will take time and involve both mother and daughter talking frankly about their feelings and behaviour to the therapist.

The first step, then, is for her mother to find a suitable, therapist. Asking at the school is a good first step, and a GP should also be able to give a referral. You could also call 1800 18 SANE (7263) to ask for advice on how to go about finding a properly qualified therapist in your local area.

The 1800 18 SANE helpline is a free call from anywhere in Australia, and can provide information, advice and referral on matters relating to mental health problems. It can also be accessed online via the SANE website at www.sane.org.


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