Counseling Resistant 16-25-year-olds: A Focus on Substance Abuse, Mental Illness, Co-occurring Disorders, and the Lack of Direction

Mark Sanders, LCSW, CADC

Adolescents and young adults are often difficult to engage in counseling and thus have the highest rates of premature termination. Participants will leave this interactive presentation with skills that will enable them to engage resistant adolescents and young adults in counseling. Topics include reasons adolescents resist counseling, brain development and resistance to counseling, mental illness as unresolved grief, reducing resistance through multiple pathways and styles of recovery, the use of motivational incentives with adolescents and young adults, and how to partner with adolescents and young adults in giving their lives direction.


  1. Identify seven reasons adolescents and young adults resist counseling.
  2. Discuss resistance as a natural developmental stage and how to address it in the first five minutes of counseling.
  3. List seven strategies for engaging adolescents and young adults in the first five minutes of counseling.
  4. Compare strategies for reducing adolescents' and young adults' resistance to discussing substance abuse and dependence.
  5. Compile four strategies for reducing resistance that accompanies mandated status.
  6. Demonstrate strategies for reducing resistance by promoting multiple pathways and styles of recovery.
Target Audience: Clinical personnel, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, educators. Intermediate to Advanced level. CE credits offered = 1.5 contact hours