How do you mean that?

Martine F. Delfos: "What do you mean?"

Martine F. Delfos: "What do you mean?". Conversation with young people aged 13-18. Beltz Verlag (Weinheim, Basel) 2015. 6th, fully revised and expanded edition. 333 pages. ISBN 978-3-407-85728-6. D: 17.95 EUR, A: 18.50 EUR, CH: 25.40 sFr.
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Conversations between educators and young people are part of everyday professional life in youth welfare institutions. Educators, social workers, therapists and other specialist staff communicate with the young people from different intensions. Conversations can serve to strengthen personal relationships, but they can be conducted from the perspective of information gathering. Communication is particularly important in the puberty phase in order to learn about the wishes and concerns of young people and to reflect with them on their experiences with drugs, alcohol and sexuality.


Dr. Martine F. Delfos is a Dutch child and adolescent psychologist and therapist. She has been working with traumatized children and adolescents for over thirty years. She works as a lecturer at various universities.

Origin background

The book has now been published in its 6th, completely revised and expanded edition. The first German edition was published in 2007. The original Dutch edition with the title “Ik heb ook wat te vertellen! Communiceren met pubers en adolescenten ”was published in Amsterdam in 2005.

It was translated from Dutch by Verena Kiefer.

As a supplement for younger ages, another book by the author has been published with the title: “Tell me, how to talk to children”.


After a short foreword in seven chapters, the book presents the topic of conversations with young people between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. After each chapter and at the end of the book, the most important key messages are summarized again.

  • The first two chapters deal with the technical introduction to the topic, in which fundamental considerations and the development of young people in this age range are presented.
  • The third chapter deals with the peculiarities and possible problem areas in the education of young people.
  • In the fourth chapter, communication conditions, means of communication and the structure of conversations in discussions with young people are presented. At the end of this chapter, passages from a diary of a thirteen-year-old teenager are also listed.
  • The fifth chapter introduces questioning techniques and the importance of body language.
  • In the penultimate chapter, the Socratic method of conducting discussions with young people is presented.
  • The last chapter deals with the special features of conversations in the different phases of adolescence.

The book closes with a short epilogue and an extensive appendix with exercises, a summary of the key messages, checklists and overview tables.


in the first Chapters, which serve as an introduction to the topic, are written by the author Marine F. Delfos basic considerations on communication between adolescents in puberty and adults are presented. In short sections, the author presents the current status of the specialist discussion on the subject of communication with young people. In the last two sections of the chapter, adolescents are portrayed as smart and competent adolescents despite their behavior during puberty.

in the second Chapter represents the author Marine F. Delfos the psychosocial development of adolescents between the ages of twelve and eighteen. In the first section, puberty is presented as a construction that proceeds individually for each adolescent. The next sections describe sexual maturation with the hormonal changes and the associated growth spurts. In the further course of the chapter the developments and changes in identity formation, sexuality, friendships, thinking and morals are described.

in the third Chapter introduces various critical aspects during puberty. The author describes various critical passages such as changes in the young person's behavior and the difficulty of reaching agreements. In the further course of the chapter other critical events such as separation and divorce of parents, death of close relatives, consumption of alcohol and other drugs as well as depression and suicidal thoughts in adolescence are discussed.

The fourth Chapter deals with various conversation techniques. In the first part of the chapter, a fundamental rethinking of communication with young people is required, as young people want to be involved in the responsibility for the conversation. In the further course, the communication conditions are presented in discussions with young people. In further sections of this chapter, the author introduces modern means of communication and the differences between boys and girls. The structure of the conversation is presented at the end of the chapter.

in the fifth Various questioning techniques are listed in the chapters. For the individual techniques, reference is made to the various exercises in the appendix. In the last two parts of the chapter, the importance of body language in the communication process is presented and how paying attention to the aspects of metacommunication can be used as a means of repair in the communication process with young people.

The sixth Chapter deals with the use of the Socratic method in conversational situations with young people. The first sections provide basic information about the method, while the last part of the chapter introduces its application with many examples.

in the seventh In this chapter, the author goes into greater depth with the special features of interviewing at different ages (four phases). Using six areas (metacommunication, the form in which the conversation takes place, the verbal and non-verbal aspects as well as the questioning techniques and motivation), the characteristics of the various age groups are presented in the course of the chapter.

The book closes with an extensive attachment from. The contents of the appendix are a summary of the key statements from the individual chapters as well as various exercises on the various contents of the chapters. These exercises are referred to in the individual chapters. The third section of the appendix summarizes the special features of the four age groups from the seventh chapter in tabular form.


In contrast to the book on conducting conversations with children, this book addresses the entire range of occasions for conversations with young people. The focus is not only on gaining information, but also on the general importance of promoting communication for the relationship between educators and young people in this phase, which is not easy for both sides. The examples, but also the technical suggestions, can be transferred to a wide variety of discussions with young people.


This book provides a useful introduction to targeted communication with young people aged 13-18. The methods and suggestions presented can be particularly helpful when it comes to accompanying the young people in this often difficult phase. The book covers this part of conversations with young people well. With the general considerations at the beginning, the short examples and the exercises, this book can be of help.

The division into different age groups is also useful. Here it becomes clear that during this period young people have to solve important development tasks with regard to their skills, but also when looking for their place in society.

Review by
Graduate pedagogue Volker Raupach
Teaching at a technical school
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Suggested citation
Volker Raupach. Review from May 19, 2016 to: Martine F. Delfos: "How do you mean that?". Conversation with young people aged 13-18. Beltz Verlag (Weinheim, Basel) 2015. 6th, fully revised and expanded edition. ISBN 978-3-407-85728-6. In: socialnet reviews, ISSN 2190-9245,, date of access May 17, 2021.

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