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David H.
David H., BA, MA,
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 166
Experience:  Counselor; Behavioral Consultant
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My 17 year old son has dropped out of school and is doing nothing

Customer Question

My 17 year old son has dropped out of school and is doing nothing besides sleeping, playing video games, chatting on the computer, and occasionally going to friends to play video games there. He refuses to do any housework or look for a job. He knows I can't throw him out until he is 18 and he knows, because I have told him, that if he doesn't pull his weight by working - school, house, or for pay, that he is out the door on the 1st of the month following his 18th birthday. What can I do to help him change his attitude?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 2 years ago.
Hello and Thank You for using Just Answer. Have you contacted his school...the attendance office or the school psychologist? Are you th mom or dad?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He has been in counselling with the Ministry of Child and Family Health for 4 years for depression, under the care of a psychologist and a psychiatrist and on Prozac and Concerta. He is not going to see the counsellor now, part of the "I'm not going to do anything". He has also quit taking his meds.

I am the mother, I have had sole custody since he was 11 months old. His father is distant, both physically and emotionally. They did spend a year together when my son was 14, with very mixed results. He and his stepmother do not get along.

The school told us last year that if he was not going to commit to be at school, then he was not welcome. He wasn't actually kicked out. We have one school psychologist to deal with a city of 100,000 and she is heavily booked. He has tried to attend a programme that is not class based, but can be done mostly on computer at home, but he's not even making an effort with that. My mother arranged a meeting with the person responsible for the district alternative education programmes, which he attended and made all the right noises, but has not done anything about that.
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 2 years ago.
Ok...I am going to refer you to Mental Health experts.
Expert:  Angela--Mod replied 2 years ago.
Hello, I'm a category moderator for this topic. Please let me know if you would like to continue with a Parenting Expert or if you would like us to open this question up to our Menthal Health Experts who can often assist with questions like this. Thank you!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The parenting expert has indicated that this is beyond his scope and has suggested a mental health expert. I will go with what Jordan has said and wait for the mental health expert.
Expert:  Angela--Mod replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply. Sometimes, finding the right Expert can take a little longer than expected and we thank you greatly for your understanding. We’ll be in touch again shortly.

Expert:  David H. replied 2 years ago.
Welcome, I am a professional counselor and behavioral-consultant. I've worked as a school board behavior consultant and as residential treatment program developer and program psychotherapist. I may be able to answer your question. Do you mind if we chat so I can better understand the situation and problem you are describing?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok, how do we chat?
Expert:  David H. replied 2 years ago.
Well I think it will be a delayed chat now that this question has been sent out for other experts. Let me cut to the chase having read your question so far.

When you ask: "What can I do to help him change his attitude?" It sounds to me like your son could really benefit from a more systematic home based therapeutic intervention. For most youth experiencing these kinds of problems strategically supported behavior change leads to attitude changes and often to positive changes in mood too.

From what you've described of your son, it sounds like he may be a very good candidate for an evidence-based intervention that provides integrated individual and family counseling along with behavioral parent training and prov en home school communication and behavior change program.

I'm thinking about comprehensive short term intervention like Multisystemic Therapy (MST) or Functional Family Therapy (FFT). These programs simultaneously target behavior change at home and at school and get really strong lasting results in just a few months.

The best available interventions for serious emotional and behavioral disorders focus on actually increasing positive, prosocial behaviors at home, at school and in the community. Counseling alone for young people with these issues can actually make the behavioral problems worse.

MST and I believe in some areas, FFT are totally funded by the government because they have been proven to get such excellent and life changing results. Let me get you some links to these programs so you can read about them, see if they are funded in your area and then get back to me with any questions you might have about these approaches.

This is the FFT link: http://www.fftinc.com/

This is the MST Link: http://mstservices.com/

Both of these programs apply the same proven, short-term intensive home-based intervention approaches. Let me know what you think. I'll check back in about an hour for your response.

David H., BA, MA,
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 166
Experience: Counselor; Behavioral Consultant
David H. and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I've checked out the websites you provided and neither one is available in my area.

He came out of his room just now and actually had a conversation with me. Yesterday, I spoke to him about how I felt about his recent behaviour, I said that I was feeling used. Today, he apologized for making me feel that way and admitted to feeling very depressed of late. I asked him if he wanted to go back to his counsellor, to go back on his antidepressants.
Expert:  David H. replied 2 years ago.
It's great to hear that you are talking. Sadly I can't provide any form of counseling on this kind of answer site. But I do think that getting to counseling is a very important step.

You may want to contact the FFT and/or MST programs and get some contact information to the nearest program managers and leader therapists to your geographic location. Ideally you would work with a counselor who knows the best treatment approaches that these programs use. There may be someone in your area who does counseling based on the same proven treatment practices.

As far as therapy for depression goes behavioral therapy is very good here's an example of the why and how of behavioral therapy for depression. It would be great if you could work with your son and his counselor:

http://www.christophermartell.com/ba.php

They did a major study of CBT and found that the behavioral activation component was the most important:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_activation

Ideally you might with a youth CBT therapist strongly familiar with the behavioral activation part. Youth therapists will often work with the parent too if everyone agrees. Don't be afraid to call the leaders in the field to ask for information, advice and to find the best trained therapist. For example, there is a contact page for Dr. Martell. You could e-mail him or call to ask how to find a properly trained therapist in your area.

I really hope that helps and I wish you and your son the very best.

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