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The Solstice Team

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.

effects of trauma in teens

Putting the Pieces Back Together: Helping Your Child through the Effects of Trauma in Teens

Putting the Pieces Back Together: Helping Your Child through the Effects of Trauma in Teens 2560 1709 The Solstice Team

Childhood is arguably the most impactful stage in one’s life.  Early interactions and experiences help to shape the brains of young children.  Building a healthy brain early on in a child’s life is important because it provides a strong foundation and increases the likelihood of a positive adulthood experience.  However unfortunately some experiences in childhood that can happen have negative effects on brain development, this is sometimes known as trauma and refers to the emotional response we have to distressing experiences.  

We try our best to protect our children from harm’s way, but the unfortunate reality is there are distressing events in life that are sometimes unavoidable.  Traumatic events that are often experienced during childhood can include the death of a loved one, community violence, natural disaster, serious accident or illness, and more.  While some may think that childhood trauma is relatively uncommon, the unfortunate reality is that it happens far too often with nearly 35 million children under the age of 17 report having experienced at least one form of major childhood trauma, this equates to roughly 47.9% of children in the United States.  If your child has been the victim or witness of a disturbing or distressing event they may be at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health concerns as a result of trauma.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying or traumatic event either by experiencing or witnessing it.  Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts related to the event.  Traumatic events often come with a variety of negative effects on mental and emotional wellbeing, but if these effects last for several months or even years and interfere with day-to-day functioning PTSD may be present.  

Types of Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma can consist of a range of different experiences and events.  Any event where a child feels intensely threatened in a situation they are involved in or of witness to can be classified as trauma.  The following is a general list of trauma types that have been identified by The National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network.

  • Bullying.  Whether it be online, to your face, or behind your back, bullying is any action performed with the intent of inflicting social, emotional, physical, and/or psychological harm to another.  In some cases, bullying may be severe and cause damage to your child’s wellbeing.
  • Community Violence.  Exposure to interpersonal violence within public areas can be very traumatic for children, even if they are not the victim.  This can lead to the development of fear, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.  
  • Complex Trauma.  Complex trauma refers to children’s exposure to multiple traumatic events, often related to the lack of a stable caregiver or home environment.  This commonly includes events such as abuse or neglect.
  • Disasters.  Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, floods, or earthquakes can be very traumatic as they may involve the need for an abrupt change in environment and can create a significant amount of panic and fear.
  • Early Childhood Trauma.  Early childhood trauma refers to traumatic experiences that occur before the age of 6.  Trauma in such early stages in one’s life can have more profound effects on growth, development, and adulthood.
  • Domestic Violence.  Domestic violence occurs when there is a threat or harm made between caregivers or household members.
  • Medical Trauma.  Medical trauma is the psychological response children have to significant medical events, including injury and illness. 
  • Physical Abuse.  Physical abuse occurs when a parent or caregiver intentionally physically harms a child that often results in injury.
  • Refugee Trauma.  Many refugees face trauma related to war and political unrest in their environment as well as the trauma of having to move to a new and foreign country. 
  • Sexual Abuse.  Child sexual abuse is when an inappropriate interaction occurs with a child in which the child is used for sexual stimulation of the perpetrator.  This can cause a number of lifelong health issues and struggles.
  • Sex Trafficking.  Sex trafficking involves the exchange of money, food, drugs, and/or shelter for sexual acts.  Oftentimes young girls may be manipulated or forced into sexual trafficking. 
  • Terrorism and Violence.  Families and children can be seriously affected by mass violence, acts of terrorism, or community violence in the form of shootings, bombings, threats and other types of attacks.
  • Traumatic Grief.  Traumatic grief typically involves the loss of a family member or loved one.  Some children have more trouble coping with loss than others, and it may result in serious difficulties and interference with their lives.       

Effects of Trauma

Unfortunately, childhood trauma can have profound impacts on wellbeing, and the risk for these negative impacts increase if the individual’s trauma is left untreated.  In fact, trauma can have negative impacts on one’s relationships, physical health, cognition, emotion and behavior.  Depending on the person and type of trauma, trauma may make it more difficult for some children to learn how to trust others, regulate their emotions, interact with the world, and understand their own sense of values and self.  In addition to this, trauma can create an extreme and constant state of stress within the body which can lead to an impaired development of the brain, immune, and nervous system.  Traumatic experiences have also been linked to an increased risk of medical conditions in the long-term throughout the individual’s life, as well as higher exposure to risky behaviors and mental health consequences.     

Tips for those dealing with trauma

Childhood trauma is no easy experience to cope with, for either the child or parent.  However, it is important to recognize trauma in children, and if you believe your child has been the victim of one or more traumatic events it is essential, they get the help they need.  If you or your child believes that the presence of a medical professional or professional help is needed, please do not hesitate to seek out a health care provider.  The following are tips from the Child Mind Institute for parents seeking to help their child cope after a traumatic event. 

  • Provide reassurance and make them feel safe.
  • Maintain routines as much as possible to avoid chaos.
  • Encourage your children to enjoy healthy activities and time spent with others.
  • Be open, but not pressing, to talk and listen.
  • Help them relax with breathing exercises, yoga, reading or other peaceful activities.
  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings and let them know they are valid and normal.
  • Watch for signs of worsening trauma and know when to seek help.

It is important that as a parent caring for a child dealing with trauma you are taking good care of yourself.  Setting a good example by practicing positive self-care and coping strategies such as exercise, meditation, eating well, encouraging hobbies, self-love, and positivity are all ways to demonstrate and practice self-care. 

Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice RTC is a residential treatment center for girls ages 14-18 struggling with the results of trauma, substance abuse, and/or mental health concerns.  We strive to help our students heal through a variety of therapeutic techniques based on traditional and holistic treatment methods.  Our mission is to support adolescents into living happy, healthy, and productive adult lives.

For more information about our program at Solstice RTC, please call (866) 278-3345.  We can help your family today!

sensory processing issues

Sensory Processing Issues After Traumatic Events

Sensory Processing Issues After Traumatic Events 4500 3000 The Solstice Team

When we talk about trauma, a car accident or the death of a loved one may be the first thing that comes into many people’s minds. But trauma can be small events as well as large ones. Being expelled from a friend group can be traumatic for a teenager. Experiencing a parental divorce, even an amicable one, can be a trigger for trauma as a teen’s entire world changes. Experiencing a global pandemic can also be isolating and traumatic for some teens. Unfortunately, trauma is pervasive, and it is important for parents to understand the many effects that trauma may have on their children. 

Childhood trauma has a significant impact on shaping one’s self-concept and view of relationships, but it also changes the perception of social stimuli on a physical level. Many people become hypervigilant to their surroundings and hypersensitive to sensory stimuli in their environment. Sensory processing issues after traumatic events are common and can trigger negative memories, making it harder to re-establish a sense of safety in the present.

Sensory Processing Issues and Trauma

When we think of the after-effects of trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is probably the disorder that most people are familiar with. While many people related PTSD to military personnel experience, we now know that PTSD is a condition that can affect anyone who has experienced trauma. As we continue to understand trauma, we are also learning that there is more than just PTSD after a traumatic event. Trauma can have many different effects on different areas of the brain, which means that there are many different ways for teens to process that trauma. 

Sensory processing issues occur when the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. Some people with sensory processing disorder are very sensitive to things in their environment. For these people, common sounds, like a crowded cafeteria, may be painful or overwhelming. Or a certain clothing material may feel unbearably uncomfortable on their skin.

Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk argues that after traumatic events, our brains adapt to monitor for signs of danger and the body keeps the score. Especially as many people dissociate from what has happened to them and repress memories, “body memories” serve as a self-protective reminder. The body often responds to signs of potential danger before the brain is able to recognize them. Fight-or-flight mode was adapted as a survival instinct. People who have experienced trauma may also be hyper-vigilant and always on alert for any threat of danger. Their brains are constantly processing perceived threats in any given situation. They may have emotional reactions they did not have prior to trauma to certain sensory experiences of hearing, seeing, smelling or touching things.

Most people are familiar with the five senses, but there are actually eight senses that our brains are processing: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, body movement, body awareness, and interoception, which refers to needing the toilet or feeling hungry. When a person has sensory processing issues, their brain cannot effectively process one or more of these senses. 

Obstacles to Re-establishing Healthy Relationships

A recent study by Bonn University Hospital was conducted to investigate the role of adverse childhood experiences in sensory processing, particularly physical contact. While many teens who have experienced trauma develop a rational fear of violence in relationships, this study wanted to explore why this fear often extended to all relationships, even previously positive ones. 

Researchers found that traumatized people found social stimuli, like touch, less comforting than people who had not experienced trauma and maintained a greater social distance from strangers. 

Examples of social stimuli include:

  • Any kind of physical touch
  • Physical distance
  • Staring 
  • Eye contact
  • The sound of someone’s voice

Experiencing trauma also has a severe effect on people’s ability to trust. Research in 2007 found that exposure to trauma may create enough changes in the brain to sensitize people to overreact to an innocuous facial gesture years later, even in people who don’t have a stress-related disorder. Often, the traumatic event has shaken a person’s sense of safety, and because of this, they will do whatever they can to try to feel safe even if that means self-isolating. When rebuilding relationships, it is important for teens who have experienced trauma to be able to communicate their needs. These teens need to build new coping mechanisms and life skills to help them be able to have a healthy dialogue around their expectations and what may trigger their feelings related to past traumas. 

Neurological Changes Affecting Sensory Processing

The study compared brain activity to patients’ responses to various social stimuli. In many cases, there was a slight incongruence between the participant reporting few changes and their brain sending flashing signals of perceived threat. 

They found that three main areas of the brain were significantly affected by physical contact in participants with trauma. While areas responsible for body movement and body perception rapidly spiked with touch, areas related to emotional memory responded much slower to touch, showing a negative association.

This suggests that some physiological effects of childhood trauma linger beyond cognitive awareness and explains why teens often struggle with developing healthy relationships after traumatic events. 

The Benefits of Trauma-Focused Therapy

Some adolescents who are dealing with sensory processing issues after experiencing trauma may benefit from a residential treatment center where they will receive individualized care in a comfortable setting while working with clinicians who use trauma-focused therapy. 

As one of the leading trauma treatment centers for teens, at Solstice, we specialize in therapy for teens who struggle with issues of trauma, loss, attachment, and the often accompanying addictive patterns of behavior and thought. These are highly complex problems and require very specialized approaches to initiate and complete the healing process. Among many other approaches, our clinicians have received specialized, intensive training in trauma-focused interventions.

Trauma-focused therapy includes the following:

  • Helps teens identify triggers
  • Teaches teens about how trauma impacts them
  • Helps them re-establish safety
  • Encourages teens to practice somatic experiencing and relaxation techniques
  • Empowers teens to develop healthier coping skills
  • Allows teens to explore what healthy relationships and boundaries may look like for them

Unlike other trauma treatment centers, we define trauma more broadly than has typically been done historically. Recent neurological research has provided insight and support in developing the most effective treatment methods for trauma as it has helped us to better understand the impact of trauma on a developing, adolescent brain.

While some of our students have been victims of “big T’s”, we have found that many more of them are often as significantly impacted due to higher sensitivity, or susceptibility to “little t’s”  These events often result in levels of emotional dysregulation that exceed their peers in both frequency and intensity. Then, of course, this results in students seeking relief in unhealthy and destructive ways.

The comfortable, milieu therapy setting of Solstice contributes to a safe and open culture, which invites introspection and growth, making change seem less threatening. Milieu therapy is an experiential therapeutic approach that utilizes the residential environment of our program to better understand how to help your child approach and overcome their challenges. At Solstice West, milieu therapy is carried out by observing your child’s behaviors and emotions throughout the day, within a variety of different settings. Milieu therapy provides an invaluable “in the moment” understanding of your child’s challenges, unique from traditional talk therapy. Within an emotionally safe culture, unhealthy behaviors can be gently challenged, and new options adopted more readily. Our experiential therapy approach allows our students to grow and become open to positive change in their lives.

Our therapy for teens acknowledges the fact that to create lasting, effective change, a holistic approach to health is necessary. This fact underlies and drives all the components of the Solstice program. A holistic approach accounts for the fact that our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and relational selves are all bound together. This “mind-body” philosophy is supported by a large and growing body of research that our mental and physical health is intertwined.

Solstice Can Help

Solstice RTC is a residential treatment program for young girls and assigned females at birth ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and unhealthy relationships. Solstice takes a holistic approach in understanding how these issues affect girls’ minds, bodies, and spirits. We create individualized treatment plans for each student considering their individual needs, strengths, and goals to help them regain a strong sense of self. 

With a strong emphasis on family therapy based intervention, nutrition, and physical fitness, and the supportive provision of cutting-edge 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. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions. We can help your family today!

Contact us at 866-278-3345 for more information about how we help teen girls and assigned females at birth struggling with trauma.

benefit from residential treatment

Top 5 Reasons Teens Benefit from RTCs

Top 5 Reasons Teens Benefit from RTCs 2560 1848 The Solstice Team

Adolescence is a challenging time for most teens. Their bodies and hormones are rapidly changing, and even their brains are going through new development. There is also the additional challenge of changing social dynamics as friendships begin to hold more importance than family relationships. Young women are beginning to figure out who they are as individuals as they discover new interests. Because of all these changes, many teens can feel like the ground is constantly shifting underneath their feet, and find themselves struggling to keep their balance.  Teens can benefit from residential treatment in surprising ways.

Changes and challenges are normal during adolescence, but there may be times when young women and assigned females at birth face particularly difficult struggles. In these situations, If your child has been struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, or learning differences, it may be beneficial to look into enrolling in a residential treatment center (RTC). 

Why Enroll in an RTC? 

Residential treatment centers for teens are typically a good fit for young women and assigned females at birth who have already pursued some sort of outpatient therapy and have achieved limited success. One of the difficult things about outpatient therapy, especially for teens, is getting engaged in the therapeutic process. If a teen doesn’t want to attend outpatient therapy, they may skip appointments or be purposefully late. Or if a teen doesn’t feel like sharing, their therapist may be left in the dark. With residential treatment, that isn’t an option. Therapists are on-site with their students and are kept up to date about how each of them is doing day-to-day. Long-term residential treatment programs are often more successful than outpatient therapy or brief hospital stays as teens have more opportunities to apply the skills they’ve learned and internalize these changes. The skills that they develop while enrolled in an RTC are practiced daily with peers and staff trained to support them on their treatment path. 

Residential treatment centers not only benefit teens, but it can also help their families. Because teens will likely return to the home environment after treatment, it is important to involve family members so that old patterns and behaviors can be addressed. Additionally, family dynamics can be worked on in family therapy sessions. This type of family involvement results in better outcomes for the teen in the long term. Using an interdisciplinary treatment team, Solstice offers a holistic and comprehensive program for therapy and overall care. With each student’s primary therapist leading the treatment team, we incorporate all the professionals that serve each student to provide an unmatched combined treatment approach, all within the context of our relationship-focused therapeutic approach.     

Through this relationship-based work in family therapy, we are able to restore families to healthy, trusting relationships. Solstice’s family focus helps our teens heal more quickly, and this healing extends to all family members. Families have weekly distance therapy sessions as well as quarterly on-campus family seminars.

Finding the Right RTC for Your Teen

Girls and assigned females at birth can benefit in any number of ways from a residential treatment center like Solstice. When looking for an RTC that is a good fit for your child there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Removal from a Toxic Environment. Negative peers, easy availability of drugs or alcohol, stress at home or school, bullying, and other forms of mental and physical abuse negatively impact teens’ healthy development. RTCs provide a safe, supportive environment where your teen is distanced from stressors and negative influences. This gives them the chance to focus on the underlying issues they’ve been struggling with, which go beyond the behavioral problems they may have been experiencing. The structure of a new routine helps teens find stability and discover their personal motivation to make changes in their lives.
  2. Providing Valuable Resources. Caring, expert staff have experience dealing with the unique needs of troubled teens. Through individual, group, and family therapy, staff provides education about coping skills, thinking patterns, and changing personal habits for both teens and their families. Long-term success depends on strengthening your child’s support system at home, not just in the program.
  3. Connecting with Peers. Teens identify with other teens. RTCs provide a supportive community where your teen connects with others going through similar experiences. These connections create a unique support network with a focus on recovery. At Solstice, we believe that relationships are at the core of everything we do. The positive influence of peers can promote a powerful and sustainable change when combined with the intentional application of other therapeutic interventions.
  4. Teaching Transferable Skills. If your child cannot take the skills they’ve learned in the program back home, what use are they? A residential treatment center should strive to help your child build life-long coping skills that will continue to help them when they exit the program. Quality residential treatment centers for teens provide varied opportunities, such as adventure therapy, to learn and shift perspectives. When these experiences are integrated with individual therapy, your teen develops positive qualities like self-confidence, emotional resilience, and effective communication skills.
  5. Continuing Academic Progress. Many parents fear that their daughter’s education will be put on hold if they decide to enroll their in a treatment program. Teachers at Solstice work closely with the entire treatment team (parents, educational consultants, therapists, future school) in order to complete an individualized academic plan that will make certain a transition plan to the next school or post-secondary institution. With an accredited year-round academic program, girls and assigned female at birth are able to earn, catch up on, or get ahead of high school credits. The core classes offered are aligned with the state curriculum.

With many choices for treatment for your child, it is important to research your options to help you find a program with a mission statement and treatment plan that best suits your teen and your family. As a leading residential treatment center for teens, Solstice is known for our compassionate and relationship-based therapeutic approach. We believe that teens heal best in the context of healthy relationships, so we have created a safe and nurturing space for our students to do so.

The Benefit From Residential Treatment for Teen Girls

A residential treatment center for teens can help struggling teens by providing an increased level of support from what is available in the home environment. This typically includes individual therapy, family therapy, and group therapy throughout the week. RTCs for teens also have some sort of academic programming available. The types of therapies and academic options vary from one RTC to another, depending on the individual needs of the students served.

RTCs are considered “residential” as students live on-site while they are receiving therapeutic support.  At Solstice, the close-knit environment created by the milieu on campus encourages life-long friendships and positive growth. Milieu therapy is an experiential therapeutic approach that utilizes the residential environment of our program to better understand how to help your child approach and overcome their challenges. At Solstice, milieu therapy is carried out by observing your child’s behaviors and emotions throughout the day, within a variety of different settings. Milieu therapy provides an invaluable “in the moment” understanding of your child’s challenges, unique from traditional talk therapy. The length of time that a teen is at a residential treatment center varies greatly and depends on their individual goals as well as the RTC they are enrolled. 

Guided by our relationship-based approach, the therapists understand the clinical value of spending time with the students beyond the walls of the therapist’s office. The ability to build rapport outside of the office setting is critical to the development of a therapeutic alliance, which is necessary in the healing process. Therapists often participate in outings, camping trips, recreation activities, and mealtime with students. Participation in these and other activities outside of the therapy office results in deeper, more trusting relationships, thereby facilitating a more effective therapeutic impact.

Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice West is a residential treatment center for young girls and assigned females at birth ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or relationship struggles. This comprehensive program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy to allow girls and assigned females at birth to explore themselves in a variety of ways. Solstice is dedicated to teaching teens how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. 

Our goal is to equip them with the tools needed to lead happy, successful lives. We provide a nurturing and welcoming environment for teenage students and help them recognize that they are on the cusp of something wonderful: the chance to heal from their past and become the best version of themselves. 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 about how your child might benefit from residential treatment center, call 866-278-3345. We can help your family today!

bullying in teens

Bullying is a Big Deal: The Lasting Effects of Bullying in Teens

Bullying is a Big Deal: The Lasting Effects of Bullying in Teens 640 426 The Solstice Team

During the teen years, friendships and peer relationships begin to feel more important to young adults than their family relationships. While this is a normal part of becoming more independent, it does mean that these teens are experiencing increased opportunities for bullying. Social dynamics are beginning to shift at school or within their friend groups and peers begin to establish themselves outside of their own family unit. Teens are spending more time away from home by themselves for gatherings or after-school activities. Teens are also spending more time on their devices which exposes them to even more opportunities for bullying. When we look at all of these things combined, it is easy to see how prevalent bullying can be during the teen years. According to a 2019 report, about 20% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying nationwide. 19% of students in grades 9–12 report being bullied on school property in the 12 months prior to the survey and An estimated 14.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Bullying goes beyond temporary or short-lived emotional pain. Bullying has serious effects on one’s health. Did you know bullying can cause physical changes in the brain and result in an increased chance of mental illness? Researchers predict that the prevention of high school bullying could result in lifetime benefits of more than 1 million dollars per individual. Putting an end to bullying in teens requires learning about its effects and engaging the whole community in the mission.

What Bullying Looks Like

Bullying comes in many different forms, especially for today’s teens. While we may assume that bullying means a shove in the hallway or hazing in sports teams, the reality is that there are many factors for bullying that include physical and emotional abuse. A few examples of types of bullying include:

  • Physical bullying: This kind of bullying includes a range of aggressive behaviors in which one person aims to cause bodily harm to another person.
  • Verbal bullying: Some people say that “words will never hurt you,” but anyone who has been on the receiving end of verbal bullying knows that cruel words and scary threats can, indeed, be very painful.
  • Relational bullying: In relational bullying, kids use friendship, and the threat of taking their friendship away, to hurt others. This is the type of bullying most often referred to as “drama.” Because it often happens within the context of a once trusting friendship, drama can be especially confusing and hurtful. This can begin to present itself even in children at a young age.
  • Cyberbullying is a specific form of bullying that involves technology: Cyberbullying can be especially destructive because of how quickly and how widely cruel messages can spread.

The Dangers of Bullying

Research suggests that children and youth who are bullied over time are more likely than those not bullied to experience depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. They also are more likely to be lonely and want to avoid school. Experiencing bullying can also have physical effects such as a loss of sleep or feelings of general illness such as headaches and stomach aches.

Chronic bullying is the term that refers to bullying that occurs repeatedly over time. Studies showed that adolescents who experienced chronic bullying were linked to changes in brain volume and changes in anxiety levels at age 19. This finding is what connected the effects of bullying with mental health issues.

Cyberbullying is especially prevalent and dangerous for today’s teens. Young adults have access to each other at all times of the day or night across multiple platforms thanks to smartphones and computers. Teens communicate through everything from text messages to TikTok to online gaming. With so many platforms, it can be difficult to track who is communicating to your teen and when. Cyberbullying can be especially devastating for teens because it so often includes more than one bully. Group texts that taunt. Instagram comments that criticism. It can feel completely overwhelming to teens and make them believe that everyone hates them. Cyberbullying has unique concerns in that it can be:

  • Persistent: Digital devices offer an ability to immediately and continuously communicate 24 hours a day, so it can be difficult for children experiencing cyberbullying to find relief.
  • Permanent: Most information communicated electronically is permanent and public, if not reported and removed. A negative online reputation, including for those who bully, can impact college admissions, employment, and other areas of life.
  • Hard to Notice: Because teachers and parents may not overhear or see cyberbullying taking place, it is harder to recognize.

How You Can Help

Seeing your child experience bullying can be heartbreaking and leave you feeling powerless. Every parent wants their child to feel safe and supported, but because bullying can be insidious, it may be difficult for parents to recognize. Since it is unrealistic for parents to be with their children 24 hours a day, how can you help your teen? Here are tools you can use to help address bullying within your own home:

  • Look for signs. You should watch for signs in your child that he or they may be being bullied. Don’t expect them to tell you. Ripped clothing, marks on skin, dread going to school, decreased appetite, crying, general anxiety and depression, or nightmares could be signs indicating issues with peers at school. From here, don’t tell them to toughen up. 
  • Create a conversation. Learn about the situation and grasp an understanding of what is going on. Don’t encourage your child to fight back, instead assure them that you will help them work through the situation.
  • Work on coping skills. Teach your teen how to overcome bullying without feeling weak or defeated. Practice at home. Give them scenarios where they practice walking away or using assertive behaviors for coping with bullies. Also talk to them about resources they can seek out when they are worried about bullies.
  • Set social boundaries. Cyberbullying is at an all-time high with the growing access and popularity of social media. Educate yourself and your child on how to properly use social media. Don’t forward emails or threatening messages. Don’t post inappropriate photos or comments. These are all things that should be addressed.

Residential Treatment for Healing

For some young women, the effects of bullying last far longer than the event itself. And while there are ways that parents can support them at home, they may need additional support and structure to work through the trauma of being bullied. In these cases, a residential treatment center like Solstice RTC may be the answer. 

The emotional culture or “milieu” of our program is a critical factor in the healing process. A strong sense of emotional and physical safety is paramount so that the girls and assigned females at birth feel protected in the deeply sensitive work they do. Furthermore, the daily interactions and behaviors of the girls and assigned females at birth in and among their teammates are reflective of how they are progressing in their journey.

Daily interactions with peers and staff are best illustrated by the levels of responsibility they are developing, as well as the respect and care they invest in their relationships. Given this, the role of the residential program and the therapeutic impact it has in the lives of the students we serve is vitally important in creating a safe and healing culture.

When a new student arrives at Solstice RTC, they are assigned a “big sister”, another student that has advanced in their progress enough to be ready to support a new student. The big sister plays a vital role of an immediate friend, a source of information and guidance to the new student. They focus on helping their “little sister” feel welcomed and cared about during the first weeks following admission.

At Solstice RTC, our milieu culture combined with a built-in community can help our students begin to build relationships and trust with their peers. Young women and assigned female at birth can use tools such as group therapy, adventure therapy, and community service to work through their past trauma around peer relationships due to bullying. 

Solstice West RTC Can Help

Solstice West RTC is a program for young girls and assigned females at birth ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, addictive behaviors, and/or relationship struggles. This program provides individual, group, and family therapy to help students heal and improve from every angle. Fitness, nutrition, and academics also play an important role in this program. 

Our approach to change emphasizes student’s strengths within a therapeutic culture where acceptance, change, and growth are supported and valued. Positive relationships characterized by emotional safety are at the crux of this process. Students embark on a therapeutic journey that fosters relationships and a thorough understanding of themselves and those around them. Solstice gives teens the skills and help they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, healthy, and capable of self-managing. We can help your family today! For more information please call us at 801-919-8858.