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Smaller, M.D. (2003). Chapter 8 Working with Adolescents: A Time for “Reconsideration”. Progress in Self Psychology, 19:155-169.

(2003). Progress in Self Psychology, 19:155-169

II Clinical

Chapter 8 Working with Adolescents: A Time for “Reconsideration”

Mark D. Smaller, Ph.D.

I was about nine years old when I attended my last summer of day camp, which was, for me, preparation for the big time of overnight camp the following summer. Camp Optimist provided excellent activities and counselors for the three summers I attended. That last summer, I had a counselor named Mike, who, in my mind, almost walked on water. This guy really could start a campfire barely using one match; hit bull's eyes at the archery or shooting range; and could teach basketball, baseball, and swimming, not only with great sensitivity, but also by example. Most important, he maintained absolute authority and commanded respect. We would start cutting up at the lunch table, and he needed only to give us a look and we would immediately shape up. The guy could do no wrong. One day, I had a dental appointment that meant I would not take the camp bus home, but stay at the “Y” until my mother arrived to pick me up. The counselors used to hang out after putting the kids on buses home and usually played some pool or ping-pong. I sat quietly near the front door waiting to get picked up and remember feeling quite privileged listening to the banter of unwinding counselors in the next room. Suddenly, I heard, with great alarm and utter disbelief, my counselor Mike swearing, I mean really swearing, while playing pool. To this day, I could not tell you what words flew around the corner banging my ears, but I can tell you, and with certainty, they were bad. Mike used those words? I was stung, devastated, and disoriented.

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