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January 05 , 2009

Teenage Icebergs, What's Under Your Surface


This book proposes a very useful and easy to understand way to look at more complex issues of adolescents. It examines internal issues in order to explain the outside behavior manifested by adolescents, a challenging time, a time hard to understand by both teens and the parents.
The metaphor of the iceberg introduced in the title is the broad framework suggested by Thomas to help teens, parents, professionals and others to go beyond the ‘surface’ of what they see, and understand what is underneath. People tend to focus on what can be seen and judge the direct observable behavior. Thomas vividly shows how superficial such an approach could be and promotes a more in-depth perspective focused on the major part of the iceberg – the underlying emotions, thoughts, attitudes, needs, and aspirations.
From the very beginning section Thomas connects at a personal level with the adolescent reader by sharing some of his own difficulties as a teen and the way of overcoming them; this shows his understanding of the importance of developing a good relationship with the adolescent first, in order to capture his/her interest and trust, and equally offers a model of self-analysis and self-disclosure.
In my view, the strongest part of this book lies in how the author manages to introduce and translate into simple words, for a mainly lay audience, the essence of complex concepts and theories of human development, attachment, mental health, counseling and psychotherapy. In this respect, the numerous and various case examples are illuminating.
Stories of other adolescents offer teens the possibility to identify themselves or parts of their problems, to understand their feelings, fears, thoughts are not unique. Universality is an important therapeutic factor. Thomas strongly encourages teens and their parents to consider counseling and psychotherapy as one of the best solutions to deal with childhood trauma and adolescent problems to overcome past issues and live a fulfilling present. And yes, this is the right solution, and Thomas stands for an example, one of the millions of people having the courage to talk to a psychotherapist, sort out his life and be happy.
Reading this book through the lenses of a combined background – theoretical, as a university teacher and practical, as a psychotherapist with experience in the fields of abuse, neglect, childhood trauma - I am impressed by Thomas’ deep understanding, sensitivity and empathy with adolescents and their difficulties and the way he captured complex processes in simple words to pass his vast practical experience over to all of those interested.
I hope you will enjoy and learn from this book as much as I did.
Gabriela Dima, PhD, Psychologist

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