Dr. Varley has worked with adolescents and families in diverse settings, including an intensive outpatient program for young people with developmental disorders and a clinic for adjudicated juveniles. Like adults, adolescents often begin therapy with the basic needs to feel connected to a clinician, heard, and understood. They typically have emerging skills in verbal expression and may still rely at times on play-related interactions, such as games, and other behaviors to communicate. Adolescents may also require time and experience to understand what therapy is and how it may be helpful for them. Living at the nexus of childhood and adulthood, they may wrestle with an emerging sense of self, challenging peer relationships, and a developing sense of personal values and morality.
In his work with adolescents, Dr. Varley carefully considers the personal and environmental dynamics influencing development. These include age, life experiences, and emerging personality traits as well as family, educational and cultural factors. In the early stages of treatment, Dr. Varley gives adolescents room to develop rapport with him, for example, by talking about interests or playing games while beginning to discuss what brought the teen to therapy. As treatment progresses, he incorporates more targeted interventions to teach skills such as how to manage fears, cope with stress, build relationships, and develop self-esteem, to name a few.
Regarding families, Dr. Varley takes a systems approach to treatment, recognizing the unique contributions of each member to a larger dynamic. Although families may initiate therapy to address a specific problem – such a separation or divorce, or an adolescent’s behavior – effective treatment often requires identifying and addressing underlying patterns. Through family therapy, members may gain insight into their role within a family system and practice relating more effectively with one another.
Dr. Varley’s theoretical orientation with adolescents and families is especially influenced by the work of Jean Piaget, John Bowlby, Virginia Satir, and Murray Bowen.