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What Works with Teens


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Two clinical social workers offer clinicians, educators, coaches, and other youth counselors the first professional book that focuses on engaging authentically with teens in order to create lasting change. Anyone who works with teens should read this book.

About the Author

Britt H. Rathbone, ACSW, LCSW-C, provides psychotherapy services to adolescents and their families in the greater Washington, DC, area. He is consistently voted one of the area's best therapists for adolescents, and actively teaches graduate students and trains other professionals on issues of adolescent development and clinical treatment. He has been providing dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) services to adolescents since 2002, and is cofounder of the Metro DBT Consortium. Julie B. Baron, MSW, is a licensed clinical social worker with expertise in treating adolescents and their families. Baron received her Master's in social work from Boston University School of Social Work in Boston, MA. She has worked with children, adolescents, and families in community-based mental health clinics, residential treatment, home-based settings, public and private school settings, and in private practice for over twenty years. Baron is known for providing effective treatment strategies in a manner that engages and empowers adolescents and their families toward meaningful change. Baron has written articles and provides trainings and workshops to parents, teens, school faculty, and mental health professionals on issues relevant to working with adolescents including adolescent social culture, bullying, and technology. She has particular knowledge and experience in understanding different learning styles and disabilities as well as a variety of social, emotional, and behavioral issues affecting children and adolescents. As a school counselor she developed and implemented comprehensive programming toward creating and maintaining safe and respectful learning communities. Baron is a member of the National Association of Social Workers. She provides individual, group, and family therapy as well as school advocacy services at Rathbone and Associates in Rockville, MD. Foreword author Rosalind Wiseman is the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes-the groundbreaking, best-selling book that was the basis for the movie Mean Girls.


"Britt Rathbone and Julie Baron have written an amazing guide to developing relationships with teens that will eventually foster positive and lasting life changes. ... In What Works with Teens, they do, with clarity and precision, what might have seemed impossible: behaviorally defining what are usually the hard-to-explain interpersonal skills and characteristics--respect, authenticity, kindness, predictability, and acceptance--that enhance relationships between teens and the adults who work with them. Written with respect and sensitivity for adults whose jobs involve helping teens, this book is a call to action that will motivate adults to interact more effectively with the teens with whom they work. What Works with Teens is a must-read for any adult who strives to connect with teens."
--Pat Harvey, LCSW-C, clinical social worker; dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) parent coach, trainer, and consultant; and coauthor of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for At-Risk Adolescents
"Rathbone and Baron are exceedingly talented clinicians who really 'get' teens, and who are well grounded in current thinking about the adolescent brain and teen development. This outstanding book artfully presents their knowledge and clinical wisdom to professionals who work with adolescents. The strong emphasis the authors place on trust, authenticity, acceptance, and respect in dealing with teens is equally relevant to teachers, therapists, counselors, and physicians, all of whose work with young people will be elevated if they study this book."
--William R. Stixrud, PhD, director of The Stixrud Group, and assistant professor of psychiatry, behavioral sciences, and pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
"What Works with Teens is a gift to clinicians--simply a must-read! Offering tremendous insight into the world of the adolescent and adolescent brain, it invites clinicians to thoughtfully approach their work with teens and, in particular, how to facilitate a meaningful and effective relationship. Based on science and the authors' clear mastery of treating teens, this book provides a comprehensive and sophisticated understanding of what is needed for successful work with teenagers. Presented in a clear and engaging manner, What Works with Teens will leave the clinician prepared and inspired."
--Bonnie Zucker, PhD, psychologist, author of Anxiety-Free Kids and Take Control of OCD, and coauthor of Resilience Builder Program for Children and Adolescents

"I have read many books that attempt to describe the athletic challenges, peer pressure, and stress that teens endure on a daily basis. What Works with Teens is the only book that truly connects not only to teens but to the parents, teachers, and coaches. After reading this book, I finally felt that sense of understanding with how I work, and why we do the things we do!"
--Kaitlin Mills, former division one student-athlete, North Carolina State University

"What Works with Teens is a must-read for most any adult working with adolescents in the course of his or her day. Supported by both recent research literature and a variety of real-life examples, the essential ingredients and necessary frame of mind required to work successfully with adolescents is clearly laid out. Although I have been in clinical practice for nearly thirty years, I relearned important lessons and gained new perspective on my work with teens when reading this book. I will keep my copy close at hand, as it will remain a valuable reference for years to come."
--Lance D. Clawson, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist and distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
"In their wonderful new book, What Works with Teens, Britt Rathbone and Julie Baron write, 'Working with adolescents is a calling. If we are going to make a difference in the lives of youth, we need to roll up our sleeves and be ready to dig in with our whole selves.' In this era of neurobiology and competing therapies, Rathbone and Baron remind us to pick up our heads out of the evidence-based manual, look at ourselves in the mirror, then look into--and through--the eyes of our young patients. This book represents a rallying cry and a detailed road map. Rathbone and Baron discuss why and how to reestablish the relationship at the center of our work with adolescents. As they write so convincingly and practically, we can only help adolescents change and grow through relationships based upon respect, authenticity, kindness, predictability, and acceptance. This book is realistic, wise, and inspiring. I will recommend it to young professionals-in-training and experienced colleagues. I'm also sure to reread it on days when I need to take a step back and remember why we do this work--and how fortunate we are to do it."
--Dan Shapiro, MD, developmental-behavioral pediatrician, Rockville, MD
"This book provides an invaluable resource for professionals working with adolescents today. As a longtime middle school educator, I applaud its practical applications and strong foundational information. The insights of these two authors are a tremendous contribution to the educational community working with students during these complicated and confusing years."
--Caroline MacNichol, director of the middle school at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, MA
"Baron and Rathbone illustrate a profound understanding of one of our most misunderstood clinical populations--adolescents. What Works with Teens provides the field of youth service workers with poignant insights into the transforming physical, neurological, social, and cognitive world of teens, providing us a firm foundation and effective tools with which to build our support given our unique roles. The authors' candid, realistic engagement strategies will empower all of us to feel the inspiration and passion to join adolescents along this tumultuous and exciting journey of self-exploration and identity development. When in doubt, pull this book from your shelf, and stay engaged!"
--Debbie B. Riley LCMFT, CEO, Center for Adoption Support and Education, and coauthor of Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens
"In What Works with Teens, Rathbone and Baron have pulled back the curtain on relating successfully with teenagers, and ably demonstrate the understated yet incontrovertible power of thoughtfulness, graciousness, and courtesy in influencing behavior change among youth. These authors understand what teenagers have always known but have been unable to articulate: that what really makes us credible and trustworthy as mentors, helpers, and sources of inspiration doesn't derive from our pointed explanations or advice, but rather from our ability to make a young person feel validated and respected in our presence. ... This is a terrific book, deserving of attention from therapists, counselors, parents, coaches, and the people teaching our next generation of mental health providers. I know of no other book like it and consider it a very valuable addition to the literature on counseling, parenting, teaching, and simply caring for adolescents."
--Janet Sasson Edgette, PsyD, child and adolescent psychologist, author of Stop Negotiating with Your Teen, and coauthor of The Last Boys Picked
"Rathbone and Baron have written an eminently readable and practical guide for working compassionately and mindfully with troubled teens. In this book, you will find a toolbox overflowing with wonderful, evidence-based strategies for establishing--and maintaining--an authentic and transformative connection with even the most challenging adolescents."
--Martha B. Straus, PhD, professor of clinical psychology at Antioch University New England and author of Adolescent Girls in Crisis: Intervention and Hope

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