Physicians helping to prevent risky teen behavior

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

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, M.S. Ed., is president and director of the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE), a national collaborative of institutions and organizations committed to increasing favorable youth outcomes and reducing risk. He is a consultant to summer camps on staff training and teen leadership programming and has broad experience as a school psychologist and adolescent/family counselor. Stephen is a member of the professional development faculty at the American Academy of Family Physicians and American Camp Association and a parenting expert at, NBC News Learn and WebMD. He is also an expert partner at RANE (Risk Assistance Network & Exchange) and was national chairman and chief executive officer at SADD for more than 15 years. Additional information about Stephen’s work can be found at

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