• Residential Treatment Program for Teens 14-18

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The Solstice Team

Adventure and Self-Discovery

Adventure and Self-Discovery 1200 800 The Solstice Team
Michael Sanders - Director of Adventure Programming - Solstice RTC

Michael Sanders – Adventure Director

Michael Sanders, Adventure Director here at Solstice, was recently interviewed on our approach to adventure therapy. We wanted to share with you some key takeaways from his conversation.

At the heart of our program is a philosophy that celebrates the profound impact of nature and adventure experiences on healing. We look to support Excellence in four main areas of personal and relational growth here at Solstice: Relationship, Influence, Character, and Health. As we see it, adventure-based and experiential therapeutic activities support growth and reflection in each of these areas.

 

Adventure and Self-Discovery

Michael reflected that “facing something uncomfortable is actually part of why adventure programming works so well and why it’s so important as part of their therapeutic process. They identify what makes them uncomfortable, confront those things, and then build the skills to overcome them.” Our method effectively integrates adventure programming into the therapeutic framework because it mirrors real-life challenges.

Through our adventure programming, students are learning transferable skills in an environment that doesn’t feel clinical. They’re becoming self-aware, empowered, and enlivened. They come out of these experiences with lessons they’re able to apply to new situations, or with insights they can use to reflect on their past.

Challenge by Choice: We empower our students to engage in activities at their comfort level, promoting personal growth and willing engagement over compulsion. We don’t want students to participate because an adult told them to, but because it’s something they’re choosing for themselves. This gives each activity a more personal connection and allows them to find their power in that decision.

We incorporate an array of adventure activities such as skiing, snowboarding, equine, rock climbing, Jiu-Jitsu, and more. Each is carefully selected to teach new skills, learn transferable risk management, and promote both physical and mental wellness.

What are the changes we look for at Solstice?

“Often what people think we are looking for is a change in behavior, which is compliance, but in my mind, that is a by-product of something else that is happening, which is their hearts changing…”, Michael remarked, “When they make changes or somehow find their own humanity and the humanity of others around them, there’s something that starts to light up inside them. I think nature does this really well. It helps them recover the light that’s inside them, and when they recover that light, it shines through their eyes and their actions and into the lives of everyone they meet.”

Solstice itself embodies this change of light, as the winter and summer solstices mark the darkest and brightest times of year. This essential quality of change and transition really permeates our community on campus.

Our unique blend of adventure therapy and community support encourages a “change of heart” — a change that transcends rudimentary compliance. Michael emphasizes that what we strive for is not just a change in behavior but a brightening of each individual’s inner light: “When I’m saying there’s a light that shines through them, it sounds like I’m speaking in metaphor, but I’m not. They get brighter. We’re looking for that brightness and the reclamation of that inner light.”

At Solstice, we don’t hold them back from adventures if they aren’t working on their therapy or academic assignments, because we don’t see our adventure activities as leisure, but as a critical part of our therapeutic process.

Outside of complex skill building, boosting self-esteem, and taking the ever-needed time to have fun, our adventures are a time for relationship-building and peer-to-peer coaching. We believe relationships support a foundation for true transformation, and have built our programming to ensure a sense of community is fostered on campus.

In closing, Michael shared: “I know everyone complains about Gen Z, this rising generation, but I have five of my own in this range. We have to see that they are astonishing people. They have gifts and talents that are largely untapped, so to give them the space to rise up and figure out their lives is a really great lesson. I feel really honored to work with them. “

Our Executive Director’s Clinical Acumen

Our Executive Director’s Clinical Acumen 1000 362 The Solstice Team

At Solstice West, we believe there is particular strength in leadership when it is coupled with deep clinical expertise and interdisciplinary collaboration. In fact, it is the driving force behind our success in guiding individuals toward lasting recovery and personal growth.

Jane Peterson, MSW, LCSW, Executive Director

Jane Peterson isn’t just an Executive Director; she’s a seasoned clinician with over 30 years of experience in residential treatment. She has a deep understanding of human behavior, particularly the impact of trauma on individuals and families. This allows her to guide the program with sensitivity and create a supportive environment for both staff and residents.

Her clinical insight infuses every aspect of Solstice West’s culture, from program development, to academics, to staff training. She champions a trauma-informed approach that prioritizes open communication, active listening, and building trust. This translates into a more cohesive and effective team, ultimately benefiting every resident who walks through our doors.

Jane’s knowledge and experience with diverse therapeutic approaches like EMDR, DBT, CBT, and mindfulness informs her program development and oversight. She can confidently guide therapeutic decisions, ensuring a comprehensive and tailored approach to each resident’s needs.

Jane’s particular interest is in working with individuals who feel misunderstood, such as those with ADHD, autism, or learning disorders. Her compassion and dedication to inclusivity translate into leadership decisions that ensure all residents feel seen and supported.

 

Learn More

What truly sets Jane apart is her unwavering commitment to long-term change. She understands that recovery is a journey, not a destination. That’s why Solstice West equips residents with the tools and life skills they need to thrive beyond the program. Jane finds immense reward in witnessing residents overcome challenges, build meaningful relationships, and discover a newfound sense of self-direction and happiness.

We invite you to learn more about Jane’s leadership and the incredible work happening at Solstice West, especially if you’re passionate about:

  • Bridging the gap between clinical expertise and effective leadership
  • Implementing trauma-informed care in residential treatment settings
  • Empowering individuals to achieve lasting recovery and build fulfilling lives

Staff Spotlight: Blake

Staff Spotlight: Blake 1600 918 The Solstice Team

“I’ve worked in the therapeutic field for over 30 years, and I love that at Solstice, we work so intentionally with families. You see incredible results.”

—Blake Taylor MCoun, CMHC

Blake has been an invaluable member of our team since joining in 2010. His journey has been marked by a deep commitment to helping others and a passion for making a positive impact on young lives.

Blake Taylor MCoun, CMHCPrimary Therapist

Blake Taylor MCoun, CMHC
Primary Therapist

Blake’s favorite part about working at Solstice West is “watching kids grow, change, and figure out who they want to be. To see what directions they want to take. Adolescence is an exciting time for just about anyone, but I feel like I get to see kids making really pivotal decisions and watch them work to implement those decisions. It’s really fun to watch.”

Before specializing in adolescent treatment, Blake’s career encompassed diverse roles, including college counseling, juvenile detention, and county mental health services. Blake’s expertise lies in working with students facing a wide array of challenges, including anxiety, depression, trauma, social skills issues, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Blake shares, “It’s an amazing thing to watch a kid come in, and they’re in pain, and their life isn’t going well… and to see them make the decision and turn it around. Then years later, they’re saying, ‘It’s stuck. I’m still doing it.’ That’s an amazing thing.”

He adeptly employs various therapeutic modalities, such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) to tailor his approach to each individual’s needs.

With additional training in trauma modalities like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) and Brainspotting, Blake brings a well-rounded and holistic perspective to his work. Recognizing that kids especially are products of their environment, he works to bring a genuine warmth and sense of humor to create a safe and nurturing environment for our students to heal and grow.

Outside of work, Blake cherishes time with his family, residing in Syracuse alongside his loving wife and three children. As a devoted book enthusiast, he takes pleasure in collecting “dusty old books” and indulging in reading adventures.

We are incredibly fortunate to have Blake as part of our team, and his impact extends far beyond his current practice at Solstice West. Many of his former clients continue to share updates and successes, reflecting the lasting positive influence he leaves on their lives.

Welcoming Our Academic Director

Welcoming Our Academic Director 1000 362 The Solstice Team

We’re excited to announce Jamie Murphy as Academic Director of Solstice RTC!

We are thrilled to announce that Jamie Murphy is returning to the role of Academic Director, bringing her exceptional leadership and expertise back to the helm of the academic team. With her many years of dedication to our team and our students, we are confident in the bright future ahead under her guidance.

 

Jamie Murphy,
Academic Director & Science Teacher

Refocusing on our mission, EnRICH!

Developing Excellence in Relationships, Influence, Character, and Health.

Our leadership’s focus on revitalizing our EnRICH mission has spurred Jamie to embed these core values within our academic staff, curriculum, and overall departmental ethos. Jamie’s deep-seated passion for education and dedication to nurturing meaningful relationships will greatly support the growth and prosperity of both our students and faculty.

Fully accredited, the academics at Solstice stand as a cornerstone of our operations. Accredited by COGNIA and recognized by the education boards of Utah, California, and Washington, our classrooms uphold the highest standards. Our ability to partner with school districts in these states has been influential for families and referral partners alike.

Our tight-knit team of licensed teachers bring an authentic zeal for teaching, driven by a genuine desire to make a positive difference in the lives of their students.

At Solstice West, our teachers collaborate closely with clinical experts and the complete treatment team—including parents, educational consultants, therapists, and future schools—to craft comprehensive academic and transition plans. This meticulous approach ensures a seamless progression to the next stage of education or post-secondary endeavors, supported by weekly meetings to track and discuss each student’s advancements.

Some Updates from Jamie

“We’re just now getting set up to do concurrent enrollment classes, which I’m really excited about. That will allow a student to take a class that will count towards high school credit and college credit at the same time.

We are also doing something that the kids are going to be really excited about, where before they weren’t allowed to have their MP3 players and music in school, we’re now going to allow it—with certain parameters, of course. I find that it helps students more than it hinders their learning. There’s so many of our kids with ADHD and just having that music to be able to kind of tune out the other noise is so helpful. “

 

We want to take this opportunity to thank Angela for her invaluable contributions during her time with us. We wish her all the best on her future endeavors!

Looking ahead, we are excited to have Jamie Murphy back as Academic Director, whose leadership will continue to advance our standards of excellence.

Join us in welcoming Jamie back into this leadership role!

Jane Peterson

Spotlight on Jane Peterson MSW, LCSW, and Her Recent Promotion to Executive Director

Spotlight on Jane Peterson MSW, LCSW, and Her Recent Promotion to Executive Director 2560 2560 The Solstice Team

Solstice West had the honor of promoting Clinical Director Jane Peterson MSW, LCSW, to the position of Executive Director in early 2023. Jane stepped into this role with a focus on mindfulness, healthy childhood development, and a relationally driven therapeutic focus. She has been serving as the Clinical Director since June of 2021 after joining as a Primary Therapist in 2019. Her previous experience at Solstice West gives her a strong clinical foundation to inform her role as Executive Director.

Jane finds it especially rewarding to take the time to understand people for who they are as individuals, helping them learn how to successfully integrate into society in a way that feels comfortable and authentic to themselves. She is drawn to working with individuals who consider or describe themselves as ‘different’ or find it difficult to relate to others.

Jane came to Solstice West with the intention of diving back into the residential treatment where it is possible to build meaningful, long-term relationships with students. She feels that the teamwork and camaraderie of both staff and students at Solstice West is one of the most fulfilling parts of Jane’s job. She loves that her day-to-day doesn’t feel like work because she is constantly learning and expanding her view of the world.

Jane’s background:
Jane received her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Utah and has been on the faculty of her alma mater. She has over 30 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and their families at all levels of care including residential, day treatment, IOP, and outpatient services. She has developed and managed programs, directed treatment teams, and supervised students. During this time she provided extensive clinical care for children, adolescents, and families. Jane has treated a variety of diagnoses including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, complicated grief, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and attachment issues.

Jane is trained in both Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and uses many approaches in her practice including Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), developmental approaches, systems theory, trauma-focused CBT, Theory of Mind, and attachment-based therapies. She has also included animal-assisted therapy to help clients with attachment issues. Jane has experience running many types of therapy groups including mindfulness, psychotherapeutic, and psychoeducational groups. She emphasizes mindfulness practice to promote emotional regulation, as becoming and staying healthy requires an approach that is inclusive of both mind and body. Most importantly, Jane emphasizes a strength-based, relationship approach with clients.

She views relationships as one of the most important foundations of therapy and successful treatment, as strong relationships and support systems lead to lasting change in adolescents. Jane believes that every family member plays an integral part in the family system, and is a strong advocate for family work that parallels clients’ therapeutic process.

Jane has been married for 31 years and has raised two children. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, traveling, walking her dog, and spending time with her family.

Jane on what’s she excited about at Solstice West:
“I’m excited to further our relational approach to treatment and continue to work on our collaborative problem-solving model that is bolstered by our daily mindfulness practices which allow our clients to practice emotional regulation. We hope that our clients can come away with a deeper connection to themselves and an understanding of their values so that they can graduate with a strong sense of self and live their best, healthy life with an acceptance of who they are.

I’m extremely proud of the Solstice West team and all that we have accomplished. It’s an incredibly tight team that problem-solves together. We’re able to be honest and supportive while challenging each other. Our academics truly sets us apart. Our Academic Director Angela Johnson has elevated her department, making it possible for our students to recover credits and sometimes even graduate early after they return to a more traditional school setting. We find it crucial for our students to be able to go out in the world successfully, so they are guided to find their passions and strengths.”

Jane has made many great strides since stepping into the role of Executive Director and we look forward to her seeing her continued dedication and the positive impact it has on the lives of students and families at Solstice West.

nonverbal learning disorder

Words Louder Than Actions: Dealing with a Nonverbal Learning Disorder

Words Louder Than Actions: Dealing with a Nonverbal Learning Disorder 2560 1707 The Solstice Team

Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Nonverbal Learning Disorder may simply be three types of an overarching issue, some scientists say. While there is no agreement in the scientific community (yet) about whether or not the statement is true, there are definite similarities between the three.

Signs of a Nonverbal Learning Disorder

Sometimes described as the opposite of dyslexia – an incorrect statement, but one that can be used to for the purposes of making an analogy – Nonverbal Learning Disorder is a condition in which a child has difficulty grasping concepts, relationships, ideas, and patterns, while not having trouble reading, decoding language, or memorizing material. Other patterns unique to a child with Nonverbal Learning Disorder include problems with spatial awareness, social communication, and fine motor skills. In some cases, Nonverbal Learning Disorder causes the child to repeat questions and take everything very literally.

As a parent, there are several steps that you can take to help deal with your child’s Nonverbal Learning Disorder. The first is to keep the environment as familiar as possible. Often, children with Nonverbal Learning Disorder have an aversion to new situations. By being as specific, logical, and organized as possible, you will minimize the levels of stress your child feels. Nonverbal Learning Disorder requires a routine – sticking to it helps your child focus on other things instead of being distracted by shifts in what they expect.

Another important factor is helping your child with Nonverbal Learning Disorder build confidence and self-esteem. Gently introducing them to safe social situations can teach your child to be more open while interacting with others. It may also prove useful to talk to teachers and school officials – explaining your situation will help the classroom be a more pleasant experience.

When raising a child with a learning disorder, it can also be helpful to contact professionals who will help your child adjust to everyday life.

Solstice can help

If your teen is struggling with behavioral and emotional issues stemming from a learning disorder, Solstice can help guide them on a path toward success. Solstice is a residential treatment center for teen girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-18 struggling with difficulties such as trauma, depression, ADHD, and substance use.

For more information about how Solstice can help your child reach their fullest potential, please call  (866) 278-3345 today!

 

mental health days

Should High Schoolers Have Mental Health Days in School?

Should High Schoolers Have Mental Health Days in School? 2560 1943 The Solstice Team

High schoolers face a lot of stress outside the classroom that can impact their ability to stay present in class. Mental health issues among teens have skyrocketed in the past decade. While doctor’s appointments are considered excused absences, mental health is not treated the same as physical health in the school system. High schoolers are encouraged to take sick days to rest and catch up on schoolwork from home, but taking a mental health day to take care of themselves and mentally prepare to focus more on assignments is often considered school refusal. Some public schools have proposed that high schoolers should be allowed to take up to five mental health days off per semester to improve academic performance. 

What are Mental Health days?

While school-related stress affects the mental health of 61.5 percent of students, only 26.1 percent of them have ever taken a mental health day. The intention behind allowing for mental health days is that teens who leave school for therapy appointments, teens who have a panic attack in the morning and show up late, and teens who have experienced significant loss or trauma that need time to grieve will have excused absences. The goal is to bridge the gap between how we treat physical and mental health. Taking a mental health day from school is a chance for teens to reset their nervous system and get out of fight-or-flight mode. It’s a break from the everyday stress of tests, deadlines, and social pressures. Plus, it provides time for rest, reflection, and recharging. 

Many parents are concerned that missing classes will mean that their teen will get behind in school, reinforcing their low self-esteem and lack of motivation. Teaching children to work hard, show dedication, and always do their best is important. However, it is equally important to teach them how to listen to themselves, slow down, and recognize when they are not getting their needs met. Allowing them to take a break when overwhelmed can save them from spiraling deeper into depression. 

Teen mental health days bring awareness to the challenges that today’s adolescents face and foster open dialogue about this issue. As a result, the concept of taking a mental health day from school has the potential to reduce the stigma around mental illness.

How do Residential Treatment Centers Encourage Mental Health Days?

Academic programming at residential treatment centers is designed to integrate mental health education and awareness into the classroom. Qualified teachers are trained to identify signs that students are struggling and offer accommodations to better support their learning. Teachers understand that sometimes students will have therapy appointments during class or that they may need to step into the hallway when they are feeling overwhelmed and work with students to ensure that they stay caught up.

Our attitude is that mental health should be prioritized. We understand that many students who have struggled with mental health issues have had negative experiences at school, problems with attendance, and difficulty planning for their futures.  Our accredited academic program prepares students for college by emphasizing experiential learning and study skills that motivate students to be enthusiastic about what they learn. Regardless of their academic performance, students struggle to feel accomplished when their mental health is compromised. 

Ways to Integrate Mental Health Education into Academics

  • Offer creative electives. Visual art, music, and journaling are beneficial activities for processing emotions and tapping into creativity. Electives are graded based on investment rather than the quality of performance, which allows students to explore topics they find interesting without feeling as much academic pressure. 
  • Spend time in nature. Teens spend a large chunk of their day in indoor classrooms, which can contribute to restlessness and low energy. Teachers often suggest holding class outdoors, as spending time in nature is proven to lower the stress hormone cortisol. As a result, stress, depression, and anxiety levels go down.
  • Cultivate authentic connections. Supportive, caring relationships are essential for adolescents. In small class sizes, teens have the opportunity to speak up in class and feel a sense of community with their peers. Teachers make an effort to build close relationships with students outside the classroom by offering additional academic support and college counseling. Teachers become invested in teens’ therapeutic growth by working closely with the clinical team to understand students’ needs in the classroom.
  • Block schedules.  As a year-round schedule with five quarters, students have the opportunity to catch up on credits, get ahead, or integrate more electives into their schedules. Classes meet for half days to make room for group therapy, therapy appointments, and study halls to help students work on their personal and academic goals. As classes meet four days a week, students have Fridays off to participate in recreational activities in the community.

Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice West is a residential treatment program for young girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or relationship struggles. This program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy to allow girls and assigned female at birth to explore themselves in a variety of ways. Through groups on various topics, girls and assigned female at birth learn to become more aware of their emotions and to express them appropriately to others. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions.

For more information, call 866-278-3345. We can help your family today!

Out of Control Teenager

Out of Control Teenager: What to Do to Gain Control Back

Out of Control Teenager: What to Do to Gain Control Back 0 0 The Solstice Team

Parenting a teenager can often feel like a power struggle. Adolescence is a time in one’s life filled with hormonal changes, the pressure to fit in, and discover who one is. These kinds of factors can cause emotions to be at an all-time high and sometimes everything just seems to be your fault. As a parent, this can become overwhelming and stressful. When you feel on edge, it is critical that you do not act on your immediate feelings. This will end badly for everyone. Keep calm, take a breath, and know that there is hope for managing your out-of-control teenager.

An “out of control teenager” can fit the profile of many different types of situations. The following actions may indicate that your teenager fits this profile.

  • Experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol
  • Having violent outbursts toward family
  • Repeatedly running away
  • Threatening others
  • Stealing
  • Getting in legal trouble

Teenager Control: The Top 3

Once you identify troubling behavior in your teen, it is important that you address the situation immediately. Remember the way you react to these types of situations plays a large role in how they choose to react. If you do nothing, they will continue to be out of control. If you react in an angry outburst, they are likely to respond in an angry way as well. Remember the goal is to restore peace within your family, relieve tensions, and get your teen on track to a happy, healthy, and successful life.

Here are 3 tips for helping your teen calm down:

  1. Lay down the law. Do not allow places in your expectations that are free for interpretation. You should set clear expectations and household rules for your teen to follow. With these expectations should come consequences when your child chooses not to follow your standards. If they are warned and well aware of the expectations pressed upon them, there is no room for argument later. Establishing boundaries is the first and most important step.
  2. Communicate calmly. You should initiate a conversation with your teen about their troubling behavior. Ask them why they are acting out. You should definitely come at this conversation as a concerned parent. Never assume. Investigate and confirm that there are no other personal struggles going on, with friends, peers, or elsewhere.
  3. Focus on follow-through. Leaving room for leniency in your disciplinary efforts is a no-go. By showing consistency with your ability to uphold the consequences you set in place, you are avoiding manipulation from your teen. They will learn that you are serious about your rules and that there is no bending them. While you want to be a superhero parent all the time, sometimes swooping in and saving your teen is not the best idea. When they learn from their actions, they will grow and improve going forward.

Solstice West Residential Treatment Center can help

Solstice West is a residential program for teen girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or relationship struggles. This program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy. Solstice Residential Treatment Center is dedicated to teaching teens how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and healthy. We can help your family today!

Contact us at 866-278-3345

 

residential treatment center for girls

Why Send Your Child to a Residential Treatment Center for Girls?

Why Send Your Child to a Residential Treatment Center for Girls? 2560 1829 The Solstice Team

We’ve all heard horror stories. Military-style boot camps. “Scared Straight” programs. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In reality, a residential treatment center for girls and assigned female at birth is an environment specifically geared toward giving your child a safe space. Growing up is never easy, but with the aid of caring professionals, your child can work through their issues. 

Benefits of a Residential Treatment Center for Girls

An RTC like this offers many ways in which to guide your child back on track. The most common reasons for considering a residential treatment include:

  • Helping your daughter’s problems. Outward behavior often reflects inner turmoil. For instance – it is easy to write school refusal off as stubbornness. However, chances are, there’s an underlying cause. A residential treatment center for girls and assigned female at birth specializes in identifying and confronting these problems.
  • Treatment for mental illness. Puberty is especially difficult for those struggling with a mental disorder. With dedicated mental health professionals, if your child struggles with such a condition, on-staff psychiatrists will help them learn that they are not defined by their illness.
  • Building family relationships. These facilities focus on teaching your child how to bond with the rest of the family. After all, the goal is to make your child better equipped to encounter the world – by strengthening their ties to the ones close to her, they will be ready for anything to come.
  • Getting back the child you love. Sometimes, seemingly overnight, the child you know turns into a complete stranger. No matter how hard you try, everything sets them off – and you watch them slip into dangerous, reckless behaviors. The right care and attention will guide your child along a path back toward success.

Consider Solstice

Solstice is a residential treatment center for teen girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-18 struggling with emotional and behavioral difficulties. Solstice can help your child reach their fullest potential while simultaneously developing healthy relationship habits at the same time.

For more information about Solstice, please call (866) 278-3345 today!

trauma focused therapy for teens

The Therapy that Works: Trauma Focused Therapy for Teens

The Therapy that Works: Trauma Focused Therapy for Teens 4993 3688 The Solstice Team

Trauma-focused therapy is a distinct approach to general therapy. It distinguishes and underlines the understanding of how a traumatic experience can impact a child’s mental, behavioral, and physical well-being. Sessions are used for understanding the association between the circumstances and the child’s responses and resulting behavioral changes. The objective of trauma-focused therapy is to train new skills and strategies to assist an adolescent in understanding, coping, and moving on from the trauma. The goal is to empower the client to be a healthier and more focused young adult, with the competence to look into their future with hope and vigor.

What is Trauma-focused Therapy?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA), this unique therapeutic approach to overcoming trauma falls under the R.R.R.S. program that defines the steps to guide providers when working with adolescents:

  •         Realizes the impact of the individual’s trauma and provides healthy boundaries for recovery.
  •         Recognizes the symptoms and how it is dealt with throughout the adolescent’s home and community.
  •         Responds by guiding the adolescent to choose more positive environments and seek out more nourishing relationships.
  •         Seeks to follow up on progress and any new triggers that might be hindering their progress.

What Are the Signs of Trauma Effects on Teenagers?

The effects of trauma can present in a variety of ways. Many adolescents survivors of trauma begin to act out and suffer from behavioral issues such as:

  • Explosive outbursts
  • Self-harm (i.e., cutting)
  • Taking drugs or drinking
  • Breaking the law
  • Bullying peers or family
  • Isolation from others
  • Skipping school
  • Compulsive lying

Specialized Approaches to Trauma-focused Therapy

While some adults may be receptive to more in-depth treatments, such as Prolonged Exposure (PE), an adolescent may need a softer approach. The following are a few of the different therapeutic styles available for teens:

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) – This approach has the adolescent write down the trauma as opposed to verbally recalling the events. They are asked to include the emotions they felt after each period. Afterward, the therapist has the adolescent read aloud what they wrote. This gives them the visual acceptance of what occurred and the effectiveness to move past the trauma “by turning the page.”
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) – This style of treatment for adolescents involves having them create a picture book of the memory. Each page represents a significant part of the trauma. After a discussion of the meaning of the picture, adolescents are encouraged to ball up the drawing and throw it away. Each event is slowly drawn through and discarded, giving power back to the artist.
  •  Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) – This style of therapy works with a timeline of life and events. Below each significant moment, adolescents are asked to label that time as happy or sad. Once the graph is complete, therapists work with the adolescent to focus on the positives they have experienced and move on from the negative aspects in a healthier manner.
  •  Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) – This approach has the adolescent turn the traumatic events into a mental movie. Each “scene” is verbalized and discussed. Once the event is completely discussed, therapists encourage teens to tell the movie one more time but with what they learned from those scenes. This breaks down the mass of the situation into more tolerable moments.
  • Progressive Counting (PC) – This style is a variant of the counting method that therapists have used for years to recall mental information under the guise of a set of numbers. With progressive counting, the adolescent recalls bits of the events in short spans, such as five seconds to one minute. This allows the teen to not feel over-exposed to the trauma as one event. Each span of time is verbally discussed and given more positive mental paths to follow.

How Trauma-focused Therapy Can Help Teens Cope Better

Studies have shown that approximately 15% to 43% percent of adolescents go through at least one traumatic event. Of those teens who have had a trauma, 3% to 15% often develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression if left untreated.

Adolescents are especially susceptible to behavioral changes and altered moods when experiencing a traumatic event(s). They have matured enough to understand the emotions are making them feel different but lack the experience to deal with it on a rational level.

Without proper intervention, this can lead them to a path that is both unhealthy and dangerous. By applying the techniques of trauma-focused therapy, the adolescent learns that the events do not define them as a person or their future.

Working past these traumas guides the teen to practice self-care and forgiveness. When encountering further unexpected moments, they have the proper mental tools to make levelheaded decisions and healthier choices.

In an all-inclusive therapy setting such as residential treatment, teens learn to balance their past with new positive relationships. By learning to be empathetic and honest about their emotions, they begin learning respect around other boundaries and their own limitations. Utilizing different approaches to healing, the adolescent leaves the feeling clear-headed and positive about their immediate future and beyond.

How Solstice West Can Help Your Teen Today

Solstice West is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for troubled adolescent girls and assigned females at birth that emphasizes the mind-body connection in our unique approach to holistic healthcare.

With a strong emphasis on family therapy-based intervention, nutrition, and physical fitness, and the supportive provision of innovative academics, substance abuse/addiction therapy, equine therapy, and psychiatric services, Solstice sets the stage for the infusion of light into the previously darkened lives of the families we serve.

Contact us today at 801-919-8858 to see how Solstice West can help your family.