Helping Your Client Imagine Multiple Choices for Their Futures



Young people often have “tunnel vision” when it comes to imagining their futures. They might have seized on an idea of how their lives are going to go. They believe it to be set in stone. They react negatively to any challenge to this, particularly from family members or authority figures. A lack of long-term life experience prevents them from seeing that committing to one plan does not mean they cannot change their minds. 

Helping adolescent and young adult clients examine multiple choices for their future can have beneficial results. A skilled therapist can help teach them that they are allowed to try on different proverbial hats. Much like shopping for clothes, this process will enable them to see what options fit them the best and which ones to set aside. Once their future horizons expand, they may feel more excited about what’s to come. More choices can also foster a feeling of having more control in their lives.

Deciding on College Plans Can Take Time

Some families have “legacy” schools and expect their children to follow in familial footsteps. Parents and grandparents might exert pressure on their children to attend the university many family members previously attended. While educational traditions may be worth following in some families, a child should be allowed to consider all their options. 

An adolescent or young adult might have chosen what is considered the family’s school of their own accord. While it may be the right choice for them, the rigidity of their choice may make them unable to entertain the idea of reconsidering it. If your client has their mind made up about a particular college or is already attending one, open a discussion about their choice. Questions to ask to get a dialogue going can include:


  • “Did someone else help choose the school for you?”
  • “Would there be blowback from family if you chose a different college?”
  • “What degrees and classes do the school offer that interest you?”
  • “Is the location of the school one of the deciding factors for you?”
  • “Do tuition and housing costs factor into your choice?”
  • “Do you see yourself going on to graduate school?”
  • “If you cannot get into this school, do you have backup choices?”


Delve Into a Discussion About Career Choices

Another family legacy that can crop up when a young person plans their future involves career choices. Some people decide on a career fairly early in life. Deciding on a career early in life can be particularly true if pressure comes from within the family to become yet another doctor, lawyer, or another specific profession. While many children walk happily in the footsteps of their family members, some might feel pressured into making that career choice. 

Open up a dialogue with your client about how they settled on their choice of careers. If they express reticence about the degree they will pursue or are already working towards, let them know that there is room for negotiation. Many people change their college plans, even after they are a year or three into attending school. Adults who are long past obtaining their college diplomas often change careers. Let your client know that it’s okay to make alternative plans if the path they plan to walk becomes questionable.

For some young people, the problem regarding careers is they don’t yet know what they want to do. Let them know that they don’t have to have a plan set in stone once they turn eighteen. Often a passion presents itself in their teenage years or even later. Help them brainstorm about subjects that interest them. Together you can look for college degrees that will allow them to study that topic and make a living from it. 

Engaging in Hobbies Helps Provide a Well-Rounded Life

A young person who has lost a lot of time while gripped by addiction may not have hobbies to turn to. Part of recovery can include looking for fun ways to pass the time. When an activity they are passionate about is in play, it can provide an interesting alternative to relapsing. Ask your client about any past hobbies they had. Gauge their interest in participating in them again once they have entered recovery. 

If they lack inspiration, discuss what topics they enjoy and how to turn them into hobbies. If a client enjoys a particular sport, see what options there are for participating in it either solo or as part of a team. As society reopens post-pandemic, team sports will become more available. Run through a list of suggestions related to different subjects. See if your client might be interested in something from an artistic field, volunteer work, or activities that involve eye-hand coordination. A bonus for discovering a new hobby they love is that they may turn it into their career. 

When a young client presents as being stuck in rigid decisions they cannot change, it can make their futures seem bleak. If they cannot make decisions about their future, this can cause anxiety and a fear of failing. Talking to your client about how they can be open to multiple options for college, careers, and hobbies can help motivate them to take charge. Knowing their horizons are limitless can be the knowledge they need to feel powerful. Sustain Recovery helps lead the charge when it comes to teaching young people how to embrace recovery. We also treat co-occurring disorders. Our multiple programs help young people expand their horizons and get excited about their futures. Our picturesque Southern California setting provides a home away from home to start life anew. Call us today for information on how we can help your young clients open up their worlds to an exciting, healthy future! (949) 407-9052