Strained Relationships with Parents and Authority Figures

Teenagers on the verge of becoming adults who are attempting to establish their independence often have strained relationships with parents and adult authority figures.

The teen years are a vulnerable time of child development when many mental health issues can begin to surface. Adolescents and teens push back more against authority as they grow older.

At Innercept Residential Mental Health Treatment Center we teach the spiritual, physical, emotional and mental skills needed to help teens learn to cope with a variety of adolescent mental health issues needing treatment.

While teens want to explore their independence, they need structure and direction from their parents while on the path to becoming healthy adults. According to Carl E. Pickhardt, Ph.D., parental authority rests on two foundations: The leadership power to direct a child to do what parents want, and the instructional power to educate the child about what they believe is wise.[1] Parents who are controlling, who need to be right and unquestioned, tend to have more power struggles with their adolescents.

Many of our beliefs are formed in early childhood and this has an impact on how teens view themselves and their world. Some of these beliefs can cause adolescents to seek environments or situations that reaffirm these beliefs, keeping them stuck in unhealthy patterns of behavior. If these patterns are not addressed, teens stay caught in destructive cycles they need treatment for including anger, self-abuse and additional mental disorders.

Adolescents may lack the skills to identify and regulate their emotions which increases conflict with parents and authority figures They often haven’t developed effective communication skills or healthy behaviors to function in their daily lives.

Some are also struggling with:

  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Spiteful, vindictive, hostile or defiant behaviors
  • Anger management, conflict and power struggles
  • Arguments with peers, siblings, parents and teachers
  • Complex and severe mental health disorders
  • Destructive patterns of thinking
  • Mood swings and outbursts
  • Impulsive or risky decisions
  • Problems in school
  • Low Self-esteem
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a behavior disorder which disrupts daily functioning, social relationships and moods. Children with ODD are uncooperative, defiant, and hostile towards peers, parents, teachers, and other authority figures.

Developmental problems may cause ODD or these behaviors may be learned.[2]

Some adolescents and children only display these symptoms at home but later they can extend to school or additional settings.[3]

ODD treatment consists of psychotherapy designed to help the adolescent develop effective ways to express and control anger. Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) and family therapy are often used to help improve behavior and family interactions.[4]

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder beginning in childhood and it often lasts into adulthood. Adolescents with ADHD may have difficulty paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors or be overly active.[5]

There are three types of ADHD which can have varying degrees of presentation:[6]

  • Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: includes difficulty finishing tasks, following instructions, following details and being distracted
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: includes fidgeting, physically active, restlessness, impulsivity, speaking inappropriately
  • Combined Presentation: symptoms of the above two types are present.

There is no single test to diagnose ADHD. Therapists and Physicians take a history of the adolescent or child to rate their mental health and ADHD symptoms to determine a diagnosis. ADHD is treated with a combination of behavioral therapy and medication.[7] Parents are often trained to assist with changing negative behavioral patterns.

OCPD Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Avoidant Personality Disorder are just several of the other mental health disorders needing treatment that can be present in teens and youth who have strained relationships with parents and authority figures.[8] We specialize in the treatment of even the most complex and severe mental health. Some of our patients have combined medical and mental health disorders which require highly individualized treatment and more extensive care.

At Innercept Residential Mental Health Center for Adolescents, we use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) to reframe negative thoughts, cope with their emotions, change their patterns of behavior. This improves their self-image, their confidence and relationships with their parents and others. It redirects them on a healthy pathway to adulthood after treatment.

Our team of clinicians at Innercept use their training and integrated treatment programs to empower and stabilize adolescents during their growth process. Our individualized programs and integral-recovery approach help adolescents learn to identify and process their emotions and manage a variety of mental health disorders they may be suffering from.

Beginning with an in-depth patient assessment by our treatment team, our therapists determine the level of mental health challenges that need to be addressed. Next, they make treatment recommendations to support the individual success in each program. Building trust with each patient is a priority for our clinicians, in order to help young people through their individualized program.

We use evidence-based modalities at Innercept, to create a “soft-landing” environment during treatment. At Innercept we have an integral-recovery approach to treatment which focuses on these four branches:

  • Self and consciousness (The parts of me no one can see)
  • Behaviors and perspective (The parts of me that others see and measure)
  • Foundational values (culture and world view)
  • Social system and environment (Everything outside of me)

Individual specialized therapy may cover issues including:

  • Identifying and communicating feelings
  • Navigating feelings of anger, control and power struggles
  • Attachment and trust issues
  • Healing and coping with post-traumatic stress or abuse
  • Treatment for anxiety, depression, anger, bipolar disorder and mood disorders, ADHD and ODD, eating or sleeping disorders
  • Changing destructive patterns of thinking and behavior
  • Healing family conflicts and improving relationships

Our clinicians provide individual therapy sessions where each patient feels heard and respected. During treatment, our highly-trained therapists lead specialized therapy groups so teens and young adults can share their feelings and build connections with peers, parents and authority figures. The small program size we offer ensures we give the highest level of attention to each of our patients during treatment. Comprehensive medication management is offered when needed.

Teens don’t always respond to common parenting techniques and these can cause strained relationships within the family. Families can benefit from therapy to help reset the family dynamic. Our therapists encourage honest dialogue in every group. This promotes authentic healing and growth for each family member as well as the adolescent/young adult. At Innercept, residents, parents and family members are included in the process, both before and after treatment, to ensure each young adult or teen works a successful individual program.

At Innercept Mental Health Treatment Center, we help young people learn to implement new habits and behaviors, practice self-care and embody the positive power that lives inside them to help them transform their lives.


[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201105/adolescence-and-parental-authority

[2] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/oppositional-defiant-disorder

[3] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/oppositional-defiant-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20375831

[4] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9905-oppositional-defiant-disorder

[5]https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html#:~:text=ADHD%20is%20one%20of%20the,)%2C%20or%20be%20overly%20active

[6] https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html#SignsSymptoms

[7] https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html#SignsSymptoms

[8] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20354463

top