Maturity and Growth, Part 2

Do you believe that all human beings, including teens, need love, belonging, to be related to others, and have a sense of competence and self-esteem BEFORE they can fully function? Some people think that this is nonsense, and that the issue is will and determination.  It is all mind over matter.

Some teachers and parents believe that all teens need to just “buckle down”, get to work, and do as instructed.

Here is what my research has shown…  read more.

Sign on and tell me your view!  Dave

Posted in Discussions, For Counseling Professionals, For Parents, For Teachers and Administrators, For Teens

Maturity and Growth, Part 1

How many of us, as parents, really stop to think about setting up an optimal family environment in which our teens can grow and mature? I strongly believe that most parents pass along our own heritage to our kids: We do what our parents did. I know I did. We often justify this by saying something like, “Well, I turned out OK, so I must be right.”

Notice I asked that we consider “optimal”, and not “good enough”. I hope I have piqued your interest. Ready to explore? Follow the link to download and read part 1, but please come back, sign up to comment, and let’s get into it!  Dave

“Maturity and Growth” Part 1

Posted in Discussions, For Counseling Professionals, For Parents, For Teachers and Administrators

Contact and Growth – Part 1

As I take in my morning cup of coffee, and reflect upon this last weekend’s encounter group experience, I find myself thinking through the usual questions about the purpose of our group, and what we are “supposed” to do together.  I want to move in this direction now by discussing the subject of “contact”.

read more…

Posted in For Counseling Professionals, For Parents, For Teachers and Administrators

“What are Encounter Groups?”

As a participant in a group encounter weekend, I wanted to give each of us a better understanding of the purpose, the approach, and flow of our experience together.

Initially, I would like to discuss a source of man’s needs as a means to give purpose to our encounter: Human needs are met through interactions with our environment – in large part through our actions with other people. The way we relate to others largely affects the quality of the fulfillment of our needs moment to moment, as we move through life. How we relate to new experience is driven by the nature of our past, and gives us a point of reference to our current condition. As an example, if we have been raised with full support, encouragement, and acceptance, we are more likely to be less afraid of trying a new business venture, or approaching a person of the opposite sex. We are less anxious, more authentic and relaxed.  As an analogy, a plant grows to its fullest potential in fertile, and less barren soil.

read more…

Tagged with:
Posted in For Counseling Professionals, For Parents

What is not mature: confluence

I thought that, rather than starting with a description of maturity as end-gain, I would describe some aspects of immaturity. By immature, I mean to suggest that a person is not availing himself to life in the fullest sense: He is not bringing all of what he is, his self, in full contact with the world. He is not able to be fulfilled and grow in the most absolute sense. There are two themes running concurrently; self and full contact.

As self, in the fullest sense, a person is free to draw from polar opposites, and everything in between, of different aspects of his character. Tragedy, the mundane, or comedy could be reflected, for example,  in grieving, indifference, and laughing, by a person who is able to access a full range of emotions. This applies also to cognitive functions as well, whereby a person can rationally assess all “means-whereby” alternatives in determining the most effective path to problem resolution.

Man’s needs bubble up from inside himself, and also come into being from environmental stimulus. In either case, man’s needs become figure against his background of experience and wisdom, and demand satiation. He senses a feeling of excitement, or alternatively – anxiety. One avenue for minimizing anxiety is to accept what is presented as given: to swallow whole without full and authentic assimilation. As an example, a school student might accept a math proof from an educator as true even though he doesn’t understand it, or perhaps disagrees with it. Rather than suffer the embarrassment and anxiety associated with asking for further clarification, he pretends to understand. Because he avoids the encounter with his class, and the potential embarrassment by risking not knowing or being incorrect, growth ceases to take place. The individual stagnates, or worse.

The Gestaltist term this type of neurotic avoidance as “confluence”. With bodies of water, it means flowing together. By going with the social flow, through confluence, we stay safe, but give up our individuality and independence. We give up the self.

With botany, seeds grow because they sit in soil, and are distinct from soil. With man, if child is “seed” and home and school “soil”, what can parents and educators do to keep soil “fertile”? When we assume the authoritarian role, do we promote full assimilation and growth, or capitulation through confluence? What is the short-term result? Long-term result?

I welcome your commentary. I am thinking, considering, and re-writing with time.


Tagged with:
Posted in Discussions, For Counseling Professionals

Faith over love?

How would you rank them? Do you have to choose? Again – from “Group-Centered Leadership” by Thomas Gordon. At Teen Encounters, a lot of our focus is on love and understanding of another. Dave

faith or love003

Posted in Other

Is Teen Encounters faith-based?

It might be helpful to peruse two pages from “Group-Centered Leadership” by Thomas Gordon. Here faith-based individuals find their particular orientations and demarkations fading with deep understanding of other humans beings.

group leadership religeon

Posted in Other


This week I hope to post an article about maturity. Fritz Perls (Gestalt) once described mature as “ripened”. In the sense of a plant, we can envision a seed developing to its full potential, uninhibited in its process of growth. Is this what we want for ourselves? Our kids? Look back for the article later this week! Dave.

Posted in For Counseling Professionals, For Parents, For Teachers and Administrators


Welcome to the Teen Encounters discussion section.

We hope to post information and host discussions on topics critical to teens, parents, educators, and helping professionals supporting families with teens experiencing challenges.

Your comments and feedback are the life blood of this part of our website.



Posted in Discussions