Parenting a troubled teen book

About the book




This book is an invitation for you to choose the parent you want to be when raising your teen with emotion dysregulation struggles. You require a specialized set of skills, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can make a difference for you. ACT (pronounced as a single word) is an empirically supported treatment approach based on a psychological theory of language known as relational frame theory (RFT) and has been researched in 136 randomized clinical trials, the most rigorous type of scientific research (Hayes 2016).

I did my best when writing this book, and now I want to invite you to continue giving your best for your teen while you learn new skills that will help. My best wishes to you in this journey of ACTifying your parenting skills!

Life brings all types of challenges to us, and we don’t see them coming at times. It’s life, and the business of being alive is not easy, but what’s the alternative when all types of struggles unexpectedly hit us? What’s the alternative when you don’t understand what’s going on with your teen despite all the love you have for him? Do you give up? Do you stoically tell yourself that you should embrace your pain? Do you tell yourself you should learn about it? Our minds naturally come up with many problem-solving strategies, but our pain is our pain, and our reality gap is our reality gap.

Here is what I have learned: we continue to search for what matters to us, our life treasure, and we make the best of every moment we have as if it’s the only moment we have left. In the end, life brings to us not only pain but also beautiful, sweet moments of connection and an invitation to choose how to live our life given where things are and how they are.






As every parent knows, having children brings both joy and pain. But nothing prepares parents for the unique trials and tribulations of a troubled teen. Fortunately, help is at hand. This book is an incredibly practical guide to helping your child reduce suffering, build richer relationships, and become more successful in the face of life’s many challenges. No matter how bad things may have gotten, it’s never too late to turn the tide; and step-by-step, in a compassionate and respectful way, this book will show you just how to do it

Russ Harris

Author of the Happiness Trap

If you’re parenting a troubled teen, you almost certainly feel like a troubled parent who has a troubled parent-child relationship. If this sounds familiar, read this book! Zurita Ona comes to the rescue with this revolutionary guide for breaking unhelpful patterns of interacting with your teen, becoming the parent you truly aspire to be, and having a rich and meaningful relationship despite the emotional challenges.

Jill A. Stoddard, Ph.D

Author of The Big Book of ACT Metaphors

What’s inside?

Chapter 1: “Why Is It So Hard?”: How ACT Can Help

Chapter 2: “My House Is a Stress Machine”: Your Struggle As Parent

Chapter 3: “She’s So Manipulative”: Judgment Thoughts

Chapter 4: “He Just Shouldn’t”: When Rules Become Rigid

Chapter 5: “My Time-Traveling Machine”: Worries and Ruminations

Chapter 6: “I Suck As a Parent”: Mind Stories

Chapter 7: “It’s an Emotional Rollercoaster”: Handling Those Intense Emotions

Chapter 8: “What Type of Parent Do I Want to Be?”: Your Parenting Values

Chapter 9: “I’m Here, Fully Present”: Mindfulness Skills

Chapter 10: “I See You”: Appreciation Skills

Chapter 11: “I Get It, It’s Hard”: Empathy Skills

Chapter 12: “I Think, I Feel, I Want”: Assertiveness Skills




About Dr. Z.

Dr. Z, is a clinical psychologist specialized in working with children, adolescents, and adults struggling with OCD, anxiety, and emotion regulation problems. She’s the founder of the East Bay Behavior Therapy Center, a boutique therapy practice, where she runs an intensive outpatient program integrating Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) to support clients getting stuck from obsessions, figure out what they care about, and do stuff that matters to them.

Dr. Z. is a Fellow from the Association of Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS), member of the OCD San Francisco Bay Area (affiliate from the International OCD Foundation), and a chair of committee for the Anxiety and Depression American Association (ADAA).


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Our intensive program will teach you all skills you need to get unstuck from worries, fears, anxieties, and obsessions and get back into your life.

You can learn cutting-edge skills 1-1, in a personalized program, with a flexible schedule, and under the care of expert hands.

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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
and Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) skills for
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


Obsessions + compulsions + avoidance = restricted life

I'm afraid of hitting someone in the street if I don't pay attention when driving. I cannot let go of this awful feeling that comes when I don't share everything with some people. If I don't hear from others that I didn't do anything cruel to my kitty, I cannot leave the house. Would I feel love when I die? 

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Why our clients love working with us


"I am very grateful for finding Dr Zurita. She is responsible for teaching my son skills that have changed his life socially and enabled him to leave home and attend an out-of-state university. This was the dream of a lifetime for him and it would not have been possible without her help. Her guidance has also made it possible for him to live a much richer life, full of experiences he would have never considered, prior to his time meeting with Dr. Zurita.

I encourage parents to start this process much sooner, if they sense their child is having difficulty at a social level. Had I understood what he has been going through all of these years, I would have started the process much earlier, so that his prior social experiences and especially those in school, would have been much fuller ....

"Working with Patricia Zurita Ona has changed and saved my life. I have struggled off and on for years with sever anxiety disorder and OCD . I have been to therapy throughout the years and have found some helpful but nothing really got to the core of the problem. I often felt crazy and that my incredible fear and my phobias would remain with me thorough my life, I would not drive on the freeway, eat certain things and had constant catastrophic thinking, thus creating a lot of depression.

I needed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which I saw advertised on many therapists’ websites. When I would call most of them they said they offered it and specialized with Anxiety Disorder/ OCD which was not the case. I had felt alone, hopeless and frustrated for the past 9 years. Never feeling like I was getting the help I needed. It was not until I started meeting with Patricia that I actually started to feel better and feel as if I had control over my life and started to live again ...

“Patricia and her team have completely changed my life! I cannot express my gratitude enough.

She helped me craft values and goals I wanted to have in my relationships, and walked me through each step of how to get there. Her methods are simple, manageable, and make sense when you are upset. I’ve been to therapists who have told me to take deep breaths, visualize calming colors, rip paper, go for a walk or scream in to a pillow when im angry. But in the moment, when im soooo angry, none of these world work. I would forget to do them, or I would already be so angry, that they were ineffective to help me calm down. Patricia’s methods are not only EXTREMELY effective, but they are easy to do, they make sense in the moment, and they bring about radical change when you apply them ...


“I do not know how it reflects on my credibility should I happen to brag about being a seasoned vet when it comes to therapists and mental wellness pursuits. Regardless, I am. And on top of that, I also happen to be a health care practitioner myself. This means, for the purposes of a review, that when I walk into a new Doctor’s office, there is an additional dimension of critiquing for me to process. I would never willingly put myself under the guidance and care of a Doctor who did not 1) Impress me as a capable and honest caregiver and 2) Impress me as a professional colleague.

– Empathy
– Knowledge
– Professionalism
– Respect

I think that these are the basic bulletpoints that strike me when I consider why I think so highly of Patricia. Dr. Zurita takes NOTHING more seriously than the pursuit of her profession. Except possibly you, the patient.

Some therapists really care.

Other therapists are extremely knowledgeable.

Very few therapists are both. Patricia Zurita Ona is one of those very few.”

"I have referred several of my most challenging patients to Dr. Patricia Zurita-Ona, and been extremely impressed both with her clinical skills and humanity. I recommend her most highly. John Melbourne McGraw, M.D."

“Dr. Patricia Zurita Ona truly cares about her clients. Behavior therapy with her has benefited myself and my husband regarding my obsessive compulsive behavior. She has a gentle and kind approach and I would recommend her to others.”

“I was referred to Patricia Zurita Ona from my son’s psychiatrist for cognitive behavioral therapy treatment of his obsessive compulsive disorder (ocd) and anxiety which rose to a level which was out of control. Dr. Zurita Ona is very skilled at working with teens who suffer from anxiety, especially related to academic success and test anxiety. She helped my son learn coping mechanisms and stress reducing strategies to control his level of anxiety. Dr. Zurita Ona introduced my son to a great stress relieving app which involves deep breathing and meditation. She has an amazing ability to connect with teens and get them to open up about their struggles, create realistic plans of attack and create goals so they can lead joyful lives and not be so burdened with their stress. We saw her weekly for about 1-2 years and my son’s sessions with her were very beneficial to not only him, but our entire family as his stress was causing tension for us all. Dr. Zurita Ona explained to me why my son had certain behaviors and ways to help him learn new strategies to cope with his anxiety. If you have a teen who needs help to learn how to manage and control stress and anxiety, schedule a session with Dr. Zurita Ona! I highly recommend her services!”

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