The more you try to be persuasive,
the more implausible you are.

Humberto Maturana

Frankl points to the trinity of failure:

  • inability to work
  • inability to enjoy
  • inability to suffer.

Self-reproaches and accusations enhance these insufficiencies.

Treatment of young people in crises

In 1930, Viktor E. Frankl organized a counselling campaign for students up to the school leaving age – and for the first time there was not a single suicide among students in Vienna.

As we know from different studies, success or failure of a psychotherapy depends entirely on the relationship quality.
In the specialized literature it is repeatedly warned against assuming a role of a “buddy” as a professional helper.

Irvin Yalom takes up the right viewpoint:

“I like to consider my patients and me as persons travelling together. A perception that sets aside the distinction between “up” and “down” in the hierarchy.”

The first and vital prerequisite for a successful future working relationship in psychotherapy is the first contact. Patience and an appreciative attitude are essential. Pretended indifference, arrogance and even hostility are frequent behaviour patterns for adolescents to conceal their own needs. Authentic efforts to understand young people in their uniqueness is the only correct answer – only in such a way they can be motivated to cooperate, and the required trust can be established as a basis for a sustainable long-term transformation process.

Mentioning the limited time of the crisis intervention is insofar helpful as thus the young person can retain the feeling of control and autonomy, because he does not have to get involved into a prolonged process if he does not wish to. Even a one-time contact can set the desirable direction or show a possibility to ask for help later on.

It has proven to be favourable to schedule enough time for the initial session. A good approach can be insured mostly through everyday subjects or individual preferences of the young person. However, the interest must be authentic, otherwise it has a repulsive effect.

Sebastian, 17 years old, was already in the wheelchair, when I got to know him. From his point of view at that time, he unfortunately survived after a jump with his snowboard into an abyss. His mother brought him. Already at the street where I met him, he told me that he would not speak a word to me. I found this paradox amusing. When I asked him if he prefers my practice or the nearby café, he chose the café. I thought: a further success. The thing Sebastian did not know was that the nearby café was a  café for the handicapped.  Waiters in wheelchairs. In the café, his gaze rested at once on a newspaper about tractors. Through this topic we came into contact. He was a passionate expert who broadened my knowledge.  

A similar situation was with Janine, 16, she also declared not to speak to me. I have two cats. Janine's fondness for animals opened the door between us.

Brain research confirms that neuroplastic protein which is necessary for neuronal restructuring and learning results can be built in the nucleus only if we feel enthusiastic. Long-term changes in life need genuine enthusiasm, ability to forget oneself, complete devotion – as Frankl discovered a long time ago.

Nicole, 17, her difficulties at school have triggered a suicide attempt. The psychotherapy showed: she had a longing desire to get to know her father. She succeeded in it quickly through Facebook. He was of Egyptian origin. Her desire to learn Arabic to better get to know her “new” relatives in Africa was a strong stimulus to her.