Mental Health Blog

Helping Your Teen Make Healthy Changes

Posted by Alan Godfrey on



Often it is difficult to help someone who doesn’t want to change. Actually it’s impossible to help someone who doesn’t want to change. That’s why a system called Motivational Interviewing has been created to help people want to help themselves. In short it is a way to help people see the positive side to making positive changes. It has been helpful with teens and young adults, people with addictions, and just general difficulty in change (Psychology Today 2019).

It can be helpful to ask open-ended questions (questions that don’t have a yes/no answer). Here are a few general techniques and a few resources I hope you find helpful. Most people, regardless of their age, don’t like being told what to do or given direct advice. If you can help someone believe change is best for them by getting them to say it themselves, it can be incredibly helpful.

Phrases like:

“I bet it would be nice or feel really good to…feel better about X”

“What is the BEST thing you could imagine that could result from changing?”


“What will happen if you don’t change?”


Other phrases about reflective listening and ways to elicit change with those who haven’t expressed interest in change or on the fence. Remember the goal is to go in with a calm, curious, and compassionate tone and motive. I hope this helps and you seek additional support if needed.




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