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Weston Therapist Takes a Different Tack

WESTON, Conn. — Weston therapist Michael Harmann takes an untraditional approach in treating the traditional behavioral problems of teens and young adults. Harmann got his start three years ago.

“I got a call from a family and started working with a 19-year-old. They’d tried everything, and he wasn’t a straight addict, so it was hard to place him,” he said. “So I just started to come and spend time with him, insert myself in his life and set some boundaries around him. It worked beautifully. I got a lot of information and was able to soak in who he was and get the danger signs.”

Based on his encounter with the 19-year-old, Harmann started Adolescent Behavior Consulting (ABC), which provides one-on-one teen mentoring. Later, he started Change Consulting , which assists kids “stuck in a holding pattern, trying to formulate plans to get started again.”

ABC deals with traditional teen problems such as drug abuse, sexual behavior and disrespecting parents, but Harmann doesn’t tackle the problems in traditional ways. “Social services mirror the medical model right now,” he said. “You’re sick and we’re going to make you better. They have messages that 'something is wrong with you' that’s working against your overall goal to get the person feeling confident and content with themself. I try to stay away from the clinical. I want them to have someone to talk to.”

Harmann deals with red zone behaviors that range from drug abuse to disrespect. He’s adamant that teens shouldn’t use drugs. As for disrespect, he said, “The most common thing in Fairfield County is for parents to get into arguments with their teenager and the teen gets angry and gets into the car that the parents paid for and peels off. They get anxious and call them on the cell phone they paid for. They provide the tools that are allowing this kid to make them miserable. I tell the kids the world is based on reciprocity. You get what you give. You’re getting a lot and not giving a lot. It’s one of the first things I let them know.”

When asked how long he treats patients, Harmann said his goal is to taper down treatment, from five days a week to three to two to once a month. He said former patients come back to visit him on their vacations from college, and some even work for him as assistants. “They’re the best to give back. The process is fresh for them, they’re just where this kid was,” he said.

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