Physicians helping to prevent risky teen behavior

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Physicians helping to prevent risky teen behavior

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Stephen Wallace: I’ve long believed that physicians are the missing link in the prevention chain. Research shows that most young people visit with their doctor at least once a year. And as they get older, they more likely than not to be in the treatment room alone with the physician without a parent present which makes it easier for them to talk about the things that are on their mind. Including risk behaviors that they may be engaging in or thinking about engaging in. Part of the problem is that physicians feel, they tell me, that they didn’t have the skills necessary to identify risk. And even if they do, they’re not quite sure how to respond to it. So I have been working with a number or hospital systems to develop tools that will help physicians quickly and efficiently gauge risk or potential for risk in their pre-adolescent and adolescent patients. And then prompt them with sample dialogue about how they can start the conversation right there, in the moment with the young person to best guide them to healthy, safe choices. Or if necessary, to make referrals into the substance abuse or mental health fields. We’re also driving home the importance of particular techniques in having open, honest conversations with young people. For example, using I statements as opposed to You statements. You statements are very accusatory. For example, you’re drinking a lot and I’m concerned about that. As opposed to I’m concerned about what I’m hearing about drinking behavior. Nuance are very important in opening conversations.

Watch Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed's video on Physicians helping to prevent risky teen behavior...

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Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed

School Psychologist & Author

Stephen Gray Wallace, director of the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE), has broad experience as a school psychologist and adolescent and family counselor. He is also the senior advisor for policy, research, and education at SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), an organization he served as national chairman and chief executive officer for more than fifteen years. 

Stephen serves the Cape Cod Sea Camps as a resident camp director and the director of counseling and counselor training and the American Camp Association as a feature magazine writer, media spokesperson and faculty member at its e-Institute for Professional Development, a role he also plays for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The White House, the American Camp Association, SADD, Camping Magazine, and the Susquehanna University Alumni Association have formally honored Stephen for being a tireless and passionate advocate for youth.

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