I’d like to start my formal answer by commending you for being such a caring and proactive parent. I think it’s very important to help your son work on making the changes you listed:
1) no more lying
2) stop procrastinating
3) get out of himself
Your son’s good academic performance and his brilliance you describe as a violinist tell me that there are no problems with teaching and learning new knowledge, skills and abilities when he’s well motivated to change or to learn. It sounds to me like his “lying” most often serves the basic purpose of avoiding the immediate negative consequences for his poor choices when you as his parents discover that he hasn’t followed through with commitments.
His procrastination could come from many sources ranging from areas as diverse as not having a specific strategy for acting in spite of him-self when motivation is low all the way to the possibility of having some challenge with attention. In ADD (they call it a subtype of ADHD these days) for example, which can be very mild in some cases, there are tested strategies for compensating for intentional and motivational lags that come with the diagnosis. Many kids with ADD are just literally brilliant in those areas for which they have a natural passion and one strategy often recommended is that kids really look for work and areas of study for which they are really passionate. I’m not saying that ADHD/ADD is the case here but here’s an example of the type of strategies indicated if it were:
You mentioned your son’s suggestion that he is addicted to gaming. I’m not sure if addiction is the correct word, either. As with the possibility of ADD type symptoms, I’m not there working with him face to face to really interview to explore and to do basic screening. I can say that gaming can be very addicting and often serves as the perfect procrastination tool or event. Gaming is designed to be so stimulating and rewarding that many people can really get “stuck” in gaming particularly when required tasks and responsibilities are less intrinsically motivating, at least in the short term. I think that intervening with your son in his behavioral choices in keeping with the 3 target behaviors you outlined in our chat, should take the gaming issues seriously, just in case.
Now you mentioned counseling. I think that real goal focused counseling is indicated here rather than counseling based on just talking about issues. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a strong behavioral focus would be very good here for your son and would likely get some pretty good results for him, in terms of his learning long term life-enhancing strategies. I think finding him a CBT therapist with a strong “behavioral activation” (BAT) and perhaps practical familiarity with Motivational Interviewing (MI) would be very helpful, within 10 sessions or less.
Motivational interviewing is a very well researched processes for helping a client develop and sustain motivation for change, and to clarify goals like the ones we discussed earlier. BAT is the best available counseling method for really learning how to overcome procrastination and to work with sources of motivation that may currently be holding your son in the behavior patterns and poor choice tendencies you described. He sounds like such a bright person. I think he’d really buy into CBT with just a session or 2.
This what I mean by CBT:
This is what I mean by BAT which is really the “B” in CBT. Some therapists leave this out or minimize it so it’s important to make sure that a CBT therapist you work with is committed to the behavioral component. Here’s why:
Now, most behaviorally oriented CBT therapists or counselors will use principals from “MI”:
Once you’ve read about these CBT approach I’m advocating here you may want to have a talk with your son about what he feels are the top 3 changes in behavior he would like to make for himself, and to ask about what how these would benefit him, and to get some examples from him. You can also ask him about what he feels is really getting in the way.
Many young adults or older teens have difficulty with motivation, so it may require you setting some limits if you see that the behavioral choices he’s making are really interfering in the quality of his life. For example, you may want to make access to privileges in your home (gaming, computer, TV, contingent upon his attending counseling. You may want to approach a CBT therapist asking for “family counseling” so that you and/or your husband can be involved in the process with the therapist, to see that your son is making progress (and attending regularly) and to learn how to best help him make changes in his routine and home life that will be most supportive to the changes he wants to make behaviorally, and that you want him to make (since your supporting him financially and you’re his loving parents). A licensed CBT therapist will also be skilled in identifying areas that may require supports or strategies for example, if there is in fact some ADD involved in your son’s case.
Here is a good resources for finding a therapist in your son’s area:
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