ACS’ Program Directors Words of Advice for the Holidays

With the holidays quickly approaching, many parents wonder how to survive this time of year with their troubled teens.  Here are some words of advice from Adolescent Counseling Services’ experienced program directors:

Roni Gillenson, LMFT
On-Campus Counseling Program Director

In my work with teens and families over almost 20 years, probably my favorite moments have been when I’ve seen the two come together and share empathy and love, even if they don’t completely understand one another.  Let’s face it; the teen years are filled with several opposing pressures, hormones, deep friendships/relationships, etc.  And, in thinking about the holidays approaching, it’s always best practice to be even more patient, have structure but leave room for some flexibility, open up dialogue (one of the best times can be in the car, shopping side by side) and take advantage of more “down time” you have with your teens while being on a school break.

Connie Mayer, LMFT
Director of Outpatient Counseling Services

For the past 30 years I have worked with youth and families and one theme remains constant – no matter what the struggle, teens and parents continue to love one another through thick and thin. In our substance abuse program teens are asked “what is the worst thing that has happened to you as a result of using drugs or alcohol?” and much of the time the answer is “hurting and disappointing my parents”. During this time of year at ACS we help parents understand and keep boundaries with their teens, increase their communication, look for red flags of their teens use, and keep families strong.

The message we also give families is to enjoy the moments of the holiday for themselves because they too deserve the healing of the holidays. In drug and alcohol recovery, a common saying is “one day at a time”. At ACS we say to our families “one moment” at a time. Try to stay present in the moment and enjoy your moment with your teen – he or she is more than their recovery!

To learn more about ACS’ programs and Program Directors please go to

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