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It may take a number of sessions of nonjudgmental listening to establish the trust needed for a particular adolescent to share with an adult what he or she is thinking and feeling.

It may take even longer before an adolescent feels comfortable asking an adult for help with an important decision.

Having an understanding of normal adolescent development can help professionals be effective communicators with young people.

It is critical that professionals educate themselves about the different cultural and ethnic groups with whom they work in order to provide competent services and to relate effectively one-on-one with adolescents.

Professionals may find that the strategies they use to provide information and offer services to adults just don’t work as well with adolescents.Young people need adults who will listen to them—understand and appreciate their perspective—and then coach or motivate them to use information or services offered in the interest of their own health (Hamburg, 1997).Simply presenting information on the negative consequences of high-risk behaviors is not enough.Efforts are made to move to a new way of understanding and working with adolescents in the context of larger systems (Lerner & Galambos, 1998); although working with adolescents and families is critical, systemic change is sometimes needed to safeguard adolescent health.Also at the heart of is the theme that today’s adolescent needs one thing that adults seem to have the least surplus of—time. Council of Economic Advisers, teens rated “not having enough time together” with their parents as one of their top problems. A crosscutting theme, regardless of one’s professional role, is the need to communicate effectively with youth.

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