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Robert J.Ackerman PhD
What would the world be like without teenagers? We wouldn’t have high schools. Parents would not have the opportunity to test just how good their parenting skills are. No one would have invented the word “Whatever.” Trying to actually use smartphones, iPads, headphones, and tablets would be left to frustrated adults. People who can text sixty words a minute would not exist. There would be no such things as Friday night football, music melodies louder than the lyrics, and therapists would quit saying, “I don’t think I have enough training for this.”


In spite of the tendency for adults to talk about teenagers negatively or to discount their behaviors, it might surprise you to know that teenagers often see the benefits of being a teenager. For example, they like playing both sides. They can be adults to children and children to adults. They don’t have to pay the bills or turn off lights. Their main job is to read books, although book reports are frowned upon. Doing stupid things is acceptable along with making out and best friends. You never need a reason for partying or falling in and out of love within the same month. Finally, you don’t have to act like a teenager because you are one. 


There is one teenager that I would like to call your attention to. She is nineteen years old and unfortunately will not live much longer. By the time you read this article, she might not be with us. Her name is Lauren Hill and she is from Ohio. Lauren is dying from the rare disease called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. She has a brain tumor and Hospice has been called to her house. However, she is without a doubt the best that any teenager has to offer. Her courage, spirit, enthusiasm for life, and her abilities to think of others will always be a reminder to enjoy our lives to the fullest no matter how short. Her dream to play college basketball was fulfilled this past November when the NCAA granted special permission for her college team to begin playing earlier than the approved schedule. Disease or no disease, there she was in the starting lineup, scoring the first and last points for her team. Since then she has played two more games, but it is unlikely there will be more. She has spent her time raising more than $500,000 for research to fight her disease. Her short life will touch the millions of people who were fortunate enough to know her or learn about her.


I hope you enjoy this annual edition of Counselor on adolescents. It gives us the opportunity to appreciate not only adolescents, but the incredible work that so many therapists and others are doing to help them with this challenging part of their lives. The feature articles in this edition reflect some of the endeavors, suggestions, and guidelines for working with our teenagers.


On a final note, beginning this past January Counselor was made available in all 650 Barnes & Noble bookstores. I want to congratulate the entire staff of Health Communications for their tremendous work to achieve this goal.
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Formerly Professor of Sociology at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort. Dr. Ackerman is a co-founder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics and the Chair, Advisory Board of COUNSELOR: The Magazine for Addiction Professionals. He has published numerous articles and research findings and is best known for writing the first book in the United States on children of alcoholics. Twelve books later, many television appearances, and countless speaking engagements, he has become internationally known for his work with families and children of all ages. His books have been translated into thirteen languages.

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