The initial psychotherapy interview with adolescent clients

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Initial psychotherapy sessions with adolescents can be very challenging due to the need to balance assessment, relationship building, caretaker/parent management, and case formulation with a client population that sometimes has little motivation for psychotherapy. This article combines empirical evidence, theoretical knowledge, and clinical experience to describe strategies for how psychotherapists can prepare themselves for initial psychotherapy sessions and manage tasks associated with five stages of the clinical interview: (a) the introduction, (b) the opening, (c) the body, (d) the closing, and (e) termination. Using case vignettes and short examples, there is an emphasis on how psychotherapists can develop and maintain a strong therapeutic alliance while simultaneously helping adolescent clients focus on psychotherapy tasks and goals. The overall goal of this article is to help psychotherapists smoothly navigate the potentially stormy stages of the initial clinical interview with adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-22
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Contemporary Psychotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Adolescents
  • Clinical interviewing
  • First session
  • Initial interview
  • Psychotherapy
  • Youth


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