Therapy with Troubled Teenagers: Rewriting Young Lives in Progress


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In this book Bob Bertolino describes his unique approach to treating adolescents and their families. He applies possibility-oriented interventions that focus on eliciting, evoking, and highlighting the strengths of clients, as opposed to their pathology and deficits. This approach, which is collaborative, resource-focused, respectful, and generally brief, is a highly effective type of therapy for young people at this fragile stage of life. Bertolino has collaborated with Bill O’Hanlon—pioneer in solution-oriented and possibility therapies, and the author of the Foreword for this book—and has expanded on and applied O’Hanlon’s ideas to his work with troubled youth, including juvenile offenders and adolescents with substance-abuse or behavioral problems, with positive and successful results. Bertolino begins the book by outlining the four common factors that can facilitate therapy and make a difference for both adolescents and their families. He discusses the importance of experience, stories, action, and context in therapy—the four different domains that this type of approach to therapy encompasses—and explains why effective communication is absolutely crucial. The way we talk about problems, solutions, and possibilities can greatly influence the direction of therapy. Collaborative language is key because it opens up pathways with endless possibilities for young people who may feel that they have no escape from their troubles. Bertolino also offers invaluable advice on gaining a focus and establishing goals in therapy, two steps that are critical to making a difference. One of the last stages of the process is getting the adolescents to envision a future where things work out, and then planning the steps for making that vision a reality. The final part of the book presents a comprehensive case study, which illustrates the ideas and therapeutic principles presented in the book.


  • Traversing the Territory: Foundations of a Possibility Therapy Approach.
  • What Walt Disney Knew: Envisioning the Seemingly Impossible as Possible.
  • The Lost Worldview: Evoking New Possibilities in the Realm of Viewing.
  • One Thing Leads to Another (Except When it Doesn’t): Evoking New Possibilities in the Realms of Action and Context.
  • Paving New Roads of Possibility: A Collage of Constructive Conversations.
  • The World Where You Live: Rewriting Youth Stories in Future Sessions and Beyond.
  • Encompassing Angles with Circles: Conversations for Accountability and Change.
  • From End to Beginning: The Case of Richard.
  • A Return to Yourself: Therapy That Makes a Difference.
  • References.
  • Index.