Jeanine Connor writes blogs for publication by professional organisationsThe themes are always real, while the characters, dialogue and events described are always fictional.

Helping young people to find their voice

One of the most important gifts that therapy can give to young people is the capacity to find their voice. Linked to this is the encouragement to believe that their voice matters and will be heard. Children under 18 are usually referred to therapy by an adult – either a professional, parent, or carer. The first story I hear about them therefore reflects the voice of the adult. Sometimes their perspective differs from the child’s a little, sometimes a lot, but I am in no doubt that it will be different. 


On Bullying and Being Bullied: 

Breaking Free of the Binary

Children are absorbing confusing messages when it comes to the topic of bullying – and vital behavioural communications are being missed. Jeanine Connor, adolescent psychotherapist and author, greets the start of Anti-Bullying Week 2022 with an invitation to therapists to challenge reductive dichotomous thinking, refocus energies on understanding context, and relieve young people of the often unconscious pressure to ‘pick a side’.

The ‘Gender Thing’: 

When Therapists Should Know Better

Questioning what gender and sexuality mean for us as individuals is an ordinary part of development. Yet for many young people engaged in this process, being mislabelled and misunderstood by professionals – and parents – is too often the response. Jeanine Connor, adolescent psychotherapist and author, delivers some pressing advice for anyone tempted to dismiss a young person’s contemplation of gender identity as ‘just a phase’.


Exploring Teenage Therapy

I have a natural proclivity towards working with 16-year-olds, which stems, in part, from my years as a lecturer in further education, as well as, perhaps, my own experience as a confused, misunderstood 16-year-old. It’s the age group I find most rewarding and the one I think is most maligned. Teenagers are frequently labelled as drama queens, attention seekers, angsty, or hormonal. Ordinary expressions of emotion are pathologised as depressive, anxious, obsessional or avoidant. Gender, sex and relationship statuses are dismissed as ‘just a phase’. Adolescents might well be dramatic and hormonal, anxious or sad and preoccupied with sex, but reducing these developmental feelings and behaviours to labels shuts down thinking. Every behaviour is a communication, and my role, as their therapist, is to work out with them what it is they are trying to say. 


Teenage Perfectionists 

Increasing numbers of young people are demanding perfection from themselves – and paying a high psychological and emotional price. Jeanine Connor, adolescent psychotherapist and author of a new book about therapy with 16 year olds, discusses the dangers of mis-labelling this presentation and the importance in therapy with teenage perfectionists of modelling imperfection and embracing mess.