No Shame in Reaching Out for Help With “Extreme” Teens

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Not all children thrive like dandelions – some of them are orchids, and when these “special” kids become teens, trouble is sometimes not far behind.  An “extreme” teen might be a teen with a learning disability, some social anxiety, a pre-disposition to depression, a sense of entitlement, or a just a good old strong will.  Parenting takes on an added twist with these kids.  Add in the legalization of marijuana, social media pressure, or busy parents, and a tipping point into trouble can happen fairly quickly.  Fortunately, help is on the way.  Tara McGee and Liz van Ryn are two local therapist who have joined forces to run an education and support group to help parents who are either struggling with their teen, or just worried.  Both are experienced clinicians trained in the “Maturity Model” at the Pine River Institute, a local residential treatment program for youth.  Their workshops will help parents understand teen behavior in a totally different way, making it easier to respond rather than react to behavior, developing a healthy connection with teens, setting appropriate limits for them, and getting parents the respect they deserve.

“We will start with teaching you how the teenage brain works, and then move into practical strategies for increasing what we call attunement, and setting boundaries and limits that work.  Over the course of four evening session we will cover off everyday concerns such as curfews, chores, and cell phone rules, as well as more extreme behaviors such as substance abuse, excessive gaming, self-harming behavior, and poor school attendance.”  Following the series of four workshops, van Ryn and McGee will launch an ongoing bi-weekly support group for parents.  More intense therapy for the teen, the parents, or the family is also available if necessary.

“We live in a world where there is tremendous pressure to have well-adjusted kids, who are succeeding and moving forward in their lives. And we know that there are lots of parents out there with teens who have lost their way, and who feel alone because of the stigma about reaching out for help,” says van Ryn.  McGee adds that, “parents with kids who are struggling with behavior, substance abuse, or mental health are sometimes so embarrassed that they live in fear of running into a friend at the grocery store who might ask about how the kids are doing.”  But what McGee and van Ryn know is that teen troubles are not isolated to any particular type of family.  It is often a perfect storm of factors that can centre around one child in the family.  “Our workshops are designed to help you overcome the stigma and the embarrassment so that you can accept that this is where you are at, and move forward to support your teenager in the best way possible.”


Thu Oct 25:  6 – 7 pm:    Understanding the Teen-Age Brain

Thu Nov 01:  6 – 7 pm:   Setting Limits with Success:  Limit setting from boundaries and values

Thu Nov 08:  6 – 7 pm:   Connecting With Your Teen:  Communication strategies that give and get respect

Thu Nov 22:  6 – 7 pm:   Substance Use, Broken Curfews and More:  Dealing with extreme behaviors

Where:              74 Hurontario Street, Suite 213, Collingwood

Cost:                   $20 per workshop or $75 for the series

Contact:           Liz Van Ryn

705 351 1285


Tara McGee

705 888 7731

Collingwood Psychotherapy and Yoga Centre

Elizabeth (Liz) van Ryn, M.Sc. is the Director of Family Programs at the Pine River Institute, Canada’s pre-eminent residential treatment centre for youth with addictive behaviours and mental health issues.  Liz is a Registered Psychotherapist and Registered Marriage and Family Therapist.  She has a private practice called Creekside Therapy.    

Tara McGee, MSW, RSW is the Director of the Collingwood Psychotherapy and Yoga Centre. She received her MSW from the University of Toronto and her Diploma in Psychotherapy from the Toronto Institute for Relational Psychotherapy. She has spent the last 15 years working in the youth mental health field as a Psychotherapist both in private practice and at organizations that are innovating in the field of Adolescent Mental Health care such as the Pine River Institute, Blake Boultbee Youth Outreach Service and Eva’s Initiatives homeless shelters for youth.

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