The Structural Family Approach to Families with ADHD Teenagers

from my experience as a teacher and middle school deputy principal I discovered two main issues that bother ADHD teenagers:

the first being that they are labeled as problematic children and secondly that they are often treated by their parents like small children. As a result of their difficulties in managing their feelings, frustrations are prevalent in both parental communications as well as within a learning framework. From my experiences as a parental coach it was revealed to me that parents are faced with two major issues one being their relationships with their teenagers in which every minor conflict becomes exaggerated and secondly that they are concerned about the lack of responsibility taken on by their teenagers. Through specializing in structural family coaching I found the answer to the concerns mentioned above. Since adopting this approach both my clients as well as my trainees have reported an overall improvement within the family sphere and that the teenagers involved have become much more responsible as well as experiencing meaningful successes. The ADHD Structural Family Coaching Approach aims to improve the quality life for the entire family and draws focus to assisting every member of the family in understanding the influence that the ADHD disability has on their lives. The Structural Family Coaching Approach strengthens the obligation to find strategies that are suited to the family's needs in order to deal with family challenges by combining the teenager’s personal targets alongside their parent’s targets with a family based orientation. The Structural Family Coaching Approach contributes to the improvement of family communication, enhances executive functions of the teenager, and heightens motivation as well as inner self esteem. (The Structural Family Theory (Minuchin, 1974) The difference between personal/parental coaching is often presented with a focus on the individual whereas the Structural Family Approach attends not only to the individual but views them as part of an integral part of the ongoing dynamic structure. This approach analyzes the special context in which family behavior exists. With this approach room for values and ambitions for each family member is encouraged. Values and/or ambitions are not isolated but rather form the roots for the future family vision. This approach upholds that in order to solve family issues, current understandings of family interaction must be altered. Moreover, the approach alleviates the teenager’s feelings in regards to self esteem allows him/her to recognize their inner strength by way of externalizing. Skills are offered to deal with several family members who are present at any one time. In accordance with this approach the family structure is viewed as a whole body including family problems however so too are latent family solutions. The Structural Family Coaching Approach does not avoid the special features of the ADHD disability. The Structural Family Approach Applies to Families with ADHD Teenagers Coaching with the Structural Family Approach is related to all family members' roles within the family unit by way of characteristic rules and the patterns of the specific family when coping with a "problematic" family member. In turn these rules and patterns affect the communication processes between such roles. ADHD structural family coaching does not neglect personal values, but rather places emphasis on the influence of each set of values for each family member and their patterns in the family system and consequent sub-systems. The ADHD Structural Family Approach minimizes the ADHD teenager’s negative feelings which are often caused as a direct result of numerous interventions both within a educational context or at home usually experienced from a very young age. ADHD structural family coaching creates continual dynamic shifts in the family pod by changing the connections and conditions between family members. The outcome allows new connections to come to fruition where as simultaneously each family member is able to unearth or reinvent his/her unique position in the family. When employing the Structural Family Approach not only is the teenager’s negative self perspective corrected, the teenager gains a sense of empowerment making him/her aware of inner strengths by way of externalizing the problem, in other words separating his/her personality from the problem (White & Epston, 1990) . By using this method, the teenager’s low confidence is replaced with a regenerated and fortified sense of self esteem. Tools and skills The family coaching function is different from personal coaching because coachers need skills and tools for dealing with multiple people in one room at the same time who not only share different paradigms and values but whose ages vary, making the task more complex. Structural family coaching combines personal and organizational coaching tools with knowledge and understanding of family processes within the ADHD context in terms of both meaning and coping mechanisms. ADHD Structural Family Coaching Outcomes for the Clients

  1. Teenagers with ADHD feel that their parents treat them according to their age.

  2. Teenagers with ADHD become more responsible

  3. Teenagers do not feel that they are labeled as problematic

  4. There is a major improvement in the family atmosphere

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