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teen substance use issues

I’m Worried That My Teen Child Is Drinking. What Should I Do?

I’m Worried That My Teen Child Is Drinking. What Should I Do? 2560 1707 srtc_admin

We know that teenagers are not exactly averse to taking risks. They begin to prioritize peer relationships and are terrified being left out. An article from Psychology Today explains, “… changes in the brain during early adolescence that make teens more focused on the rewards of peers and being included in peer activities. This increased focus on peers occurs during a time when the PFC is not yet ready to assist in mature self-regulation. These factors provide a “perfect storm” of opportunities for risky behavior.” Teen substance use issues are one of the risky behaviors some teens choose to engage in.

While taking some risks is normal, and a part of learning to navigate life, there are some risks that have higher dangers, such as drinking. Oftentimes teens who are struggling with mental health, are even more susceptible to the addictive nature of alcohol. They turn to alcohol to feel more comfortable in a social environment, or maybe they don’t feel confident enough to say no. It could also be that teens with mental health issues turn to alcohol to numb their symptoms or struggles. 

If your child is struggling with their mental health, and you believe that they may be experimenting with alcohol, below are some steps you can take towards finding a solution.

Create a Safe Environment for Thrill Seeking: Adolescents enjoy testing limits, whether that’s their physical limits, or the limitations parents put on them. Alcohol is a way of testing those limits, but there are other ways to tap into that thrill seeking need. Adventure activities like rock climbing or ziplining lets your child test their limits, but it can be done in a controlled environment. These are also great activities to do in groups, which encourages positive peer interactions.

Supervise Peer Interactions: For both younger and older adolescents, it is important to supervise your child and their peers. While we may want to let teens have some independence, if there are any concerns about alcohol experimentation, parents must stay engaged. Letting the group know that there are clear expectations and rules for gatherings can help limit the opportunities for risky behavior. 

Explore the Why: Chances are your child knows that drinking is not a good choice. She’s heard it from you. She’s heard it from teachers. She’s heard it on after school specials. So instead of telling their not to do it because it’s bad, ask her: “Why?” What is they gaining from the experience? What is it doing for her? When they can identify why they are experimenting with alcohol, you can begin to try to replace that need for alcohol with a healthier coping strategy. 

Group Therapy: As we have already established, peer relationships are the top priority for many teens. Because of this, your child will likely open up to their peers much more quickly that they will to you. This is where a resource like group therapy can be very beneficial. While working with a mental health professional, they can also be engaged in a group of peers who may be struggling with similar issues. It’s a place to connect with and support others. Group members can relate to each other’s experiences and offer guidance.

Solstice RTC Can Help With Teen Substance Use Issues

Solstice RTC helps teen students on their journey towards healing by utilizing a unique blend of therapeutic techniques based upon both traditional and holistic treatment methods. Programming is specifically designed to treat teen students between the ages of 14-17.  We strive to empower teenage people with the ability to believe in themselves and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life. Solstice RTC can help girls and assigned female at birth who are struggling with issues such as impulse control, low self esteem, teen substance use issues, and social interactions. We utilize many therapeutic approaches like group and adventure therapy. For more information about Solstice RTC, please call  (801) 406-7256.

teen with anxiety

5 Tips for Helping Your Teen with Anxiety During a Pandemic

5 Tips for Helping Your Teen with Anxiety During a Pandemic 2560 1707 srtc_admin

The world has drastically changed in the past 5 months. Everything from the way we work to the way we are able to interact with family and friends has shifted, and all that change can be challenging for teens who already struggle with anxiety. And while it is normal to feel worried during a pandemic, there are ways to identify a more serious anxiety disorder in your teen and offer them support. 

Are They Worried or Is it Anxiety?

According to the Mayo Clinic: “people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).” Anxiety disorders manifest in different ways:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder is a chronic state of severe worry and tension, often without provocation. 
  • Panic disorder refers to sudden and repeated panic attacks—episodes of intense fear and discomfort that peak within a few minutes.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder is marked by intrusive thoughts or compulsions to carry out specific behaviors, such as handwashing.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder may develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.

If your teen is exhibiting any of the above behaviors or has received a formal diagnosis, there are ways that you can help them manage their anxiety.

5 Tips for Helping Your Teen During a Pandemic

  • Foster Positive Relationships

    • Even though we often expect teenagers to act more like adults, their brains are still forming a changing. It is important for teens with anxiety to have a strong familial connection, whether that be with a parent or guardian. This deep and sustaining bond can help teens feel grounded and connected. 
  • Help Them Be Flexible

    • Help your teen let go of the idea of perfection. They don’t need to do everything absolutely perfectly. Give them the space to make mistakes and learn in the process. If they’re anxious about a new school format this fall, remind them that everyone will be learning this new system together.
  • Normalize Being Worried

    • The last thing someone with anxiety wants to hear, is that there’s nothing to be worried about. Verbalize to your teen that it is absolutely normal to be worried right now. Let them know that they are allowed to feel their feelings and give them the support they need while they explore those feelings.
  • Practice Empathy

    • Empathy is a powerful tool in a parent’s toolbox. When a teen is expressing their anxiety (through words or actions) it can be incredibly impactful for parents to sit with them and engage through questions like “How did that make you feel?” or “What are you feeling in your body?”
  • Seeking Treatment

    • If you feel that your child’s anxiety is spiraling out of control, there are options such as a Residential Treatment Center. These programs are designed to provide a warm, inviting setting with a strong focus on individual growth and academic progress. 

Solstice Residential Treatment Center is a program for troubled adolescent girls and assigned female 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 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. For more information, click here or call (801) 406-7475.

symptoms of cyberbullying and ptsd

Cyberbullying Linked to Symptoms of PTSD

Cyberbullying Linked to Symptoms of PTSD 2560 1707 srtc_admin

A recent study, linking cyberbullying to symptoms of PTSD, found that more than a third of the cyberbullies were not involved in traditional bullying, whereas a huge majority of the cyberbully victims were involved in traditional bullying. This suggests that the anonymity provided to perpetrators online may constitute a new platform for bullying to occur. Based on the wide reach that cyberbullying and cancel culture can have, teens are more likely to report elevated levels of hypervigilance and avoiding social media platforms associated with incidents of cyberbullying, which are classic signs of PTSD.

What is Cyberbullying?

With the rise of technology, cyberbullying can happen anywhere, at any time. Teens are not protected by class changes, eating lunch in the bathroom, or going home early. As most teens have cell phones, cruel messages or unflattering photos can be sent or passed around during the school day and whenever teens walk out the front door. It may not involve physical violence like other forms of bullying, but the effect can be more widespread as online activity is permanent and often public. The prevalence of cyberbullying among teens is thought to be between 10% and 40% and to pose specific risks because it can be done day and night, in various contexts, is rapid, anonymous, and reaches a wide audience.

Examples of cyberbullying may include:

  • Sending mean emails, texts, or direct messages 
  • Harassing someone from an anonymous number or account
  • Posting hurtful things about someone on social media
  • Spreading rumors or gossip about someone online
  • Making fun of someone in an online chat that includes multiple people
  • Creating a fake online profile to contact others
  • Sharing embarrassing photos or videos of other people without their permission

What is the Impact of Cyberbullying on a Teen’s Identity and Social Relationships?

While the intent behind cyberbullying is similar to the intent behind traditional bullying, researchers have found that there may be protective factors against the effects of cyberbullying due to its anonymity, even though it is a double-edged sword. Another recent study, published in the Journal of Adolescence, found that intrapersonal emotional competence showed buffering effects against cyberbullying because the ability to handle one’s own emotions is known to have a positive impact on our mental health, but interpersonal emotional competence showed the opposite effect. Because the ability to understand emotional states in others may encourage individuals to dwell on the bully’s intentions.

The biggest impact of cyberbullying is the toll it takes on one’s social life and technology use, while bullying is more likely to target one’s self-esteem. The mediating factor may be the public display of relational aggression that leaves cyberbullying victims more vulnerable and feeling exposed.

Teens who have been cyberbullied are more likely to:

  • Struggle with trusting others
  • Become withdrawn
  • Either spend excessive time online or avoid social media altogether
  • Become jumpy whenever they receive a notification
  • Avoid conversations about their friendships or online activity
  • Refuse to go to school

Healing from the Trauma of Cyberbullying

While most cyberbullying comes in the form of verbal abuse, gaslighting, and harassment, it can be just as emotionally painful as physical acts or threats of violence. As it is less understood by parents and professionals who may not have grown up with social media technology, it can be difficult to offer support to your child who is affected by cyberbullying if you don’t understand the phenomena. 

Some suggestions may include:

  • Ask questions, but respect space. It can feel embarrassing to share other people’s negative online comments with others out of fear of judgment or “being exposed.” When asking about your child’s experience, the details and names may not matter. In fact, they may bring up more anxiety and shame. However, it may be helpful to ask general questions about what the process of “being canceled” looks like, how certain sites respond to reported comments or anonymous users, or how celebrities have used their social media platforms to address online “haters”. By focusing on the general experience of cyberbullying, your child may offer insight into youth Internet culture that can help guide ways to support their in their personal experience with it.
  • Don’t blame their for their online activity. Cyberbullying isn’t always direct backlash for inappropriate or hurtful comments made online or controversial opinions. Many parents’ gut instinct is to ask whether their child values their digital privacy or if they give out too much personal information online. While these conversations are important, it is becoming more socially acceptable for teens to put that level of information out there. Besides, the immediate crisis should be how they feels targeted or rejected, not how or if they played a role.
  • Encourage their to unplug from technology for a while. This might seem like one of the most obvious solutions, but it can be difficult to follow through with when a significant proportion of a teen’s social life occurs through online activity. While it may feel punitive to take away their phone for something out of their control, encouraging them to self-monitor their screen time or temporarily deactivate certain accounts can help them take space from triggering messages before they decide if and how they might want to respond.
  • Offer positive affirmations on and offline. After experiencing cyberbullying, many teenage girls and assigned female at birth take mean comments to heart and overgeneralize that all of their friends (or followers) feel the same way about her. It is critical to their self-esteem to remind their of their positive attributes and help their reflect on the things they appreciates about herself. If you are also on social media, hyping their up in their comments or flooding their tagged photos on Instagram may be seen as “embarrassing,” but heart reacting their pictures and tagging their in uplifting quotes and articles may fill their feed with positive information.

Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice Residential Treatment Center is a 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. 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 able to manage their emotions. 

Contact us at 866-278-3345. We can help your family today!

defiant teens

Emotional First Aid Strategies for Defiant Teens

Emotional First Aid Strategies for Defiant Teens 2560 1920 srtc_admin

When it comes to engaging in conversations with defiant teens, you are more likely to get into a power struggle than to start a dialogue, particularly when they are on the defense. More often than not, teens are not intentionally defiant. Instead, they are struggling to advocate for themselves and gain more independence, but they may go about this in an emotional state rather than a rational state. To avoid getting into a cycle of arguments and resentment, it can be helpful for parents, professionals, and other authority figures to offer emotional first aid to defiant teens.

What is Emotional First Aid?

The goal of emotional first aid is to resolve the immediate crisis, not underlying issues. We enter power struggles when we bring in other examples of their defiance or try to focus on the bigger picture, rather than focusing on the details of the incident at hand. For example, in a crisis situation, the first people to respond will be the Emergency Medical Technicians that can offer stabilization and first aid, but the underlying issues won’t be resolved until they are admitted to the hospital and consult with a specialist. In the same way, in the middle of an argument with a defiant teenager, the goal is to stabilize their emotions. The crisis may not be resolved until they are able to return later and talk it out, after consulting friends or a therapist. 

Why Does This Work Well with Defiant Teens?

It is a natural instinct to fight fire with fire and to react to instances of disrespect, rebellion, or verbal threats. But this only adds fuel to the teen’s anger. If you try to match their energy, they are more likely to use this against you and the resentment will build. Instead, emotional first aid shows a willingness to meet teens where they are at and hear them out. This may come as a surprise to a teenager who may not be used to this and may be expecting the argument to escalate. If they are unable to cool off on their own, it is the adult’s role to help them co-regulate. This also begins the process of healing the relationship.

How Can I Support My Defiant Teen?


  • Drain off Emotions. When teenagers don’t have the skills to regulate their emotions on their own, encouraging them to vent and process what they are feeling can help them calm down so that they can think about what they are asking for in a clearer space. Active listening and reassuring them that their emotions are valid are necessary to help teens co-regulate. This does not necessarily mean giving into their demands, but rather helps them explain their perspective and advocate for themselves in a healthier way.
  • Clarify Events of Immediate Crisis. When a teenager is overwhelmed by emotions, they are more likely to catastrophize and exaggerate the details of a situation. They are more likely to have a distorted view of how the situation occurred and the other person’s intentions. Once they are able to take a step back from the situation, they are better able to put things into perspective, reinterpret the event, and keep things in focus. Sometimes, this might look like asking for a timeline of events, asking them to tell you more about how a turn in events made them feel, or pointing out inconsistencies in their story.
  • Maintain the Relationship and Lines of Communication. In the midst of an angry outburst, it is easy for there to be a total breakdown of communication, where one person will refuse to talk, storm off angrily, or leave the conversation with more confusion than when the situation began. By using active listening skills, sharing insight, and using supportive language, not only are teenagers more likely to feel heard, they are also more likely to soften up and show appreciation for the conversation. If it is not appropriate to address the situation immediately, offer to check in at a different time. This shows that you are still open to a conversation and that the incident doesn’t change how you feel about the relationship.
  • Remind the Child of Expectations. Like most people, teenagers are not very responsive to being told that they are wrong or that they can’t do something. There are ways to be more subtle about encouraging opposite behaviors, rather than just calling out negative behaviors. Instead of telling them to do something, they may be more responsive to asking if you’ll join them in doing something. Use positive, non-judgmental language to remind them of expectations, like “remember to ask before doing something” rather than “don’t do something without asking for permission next time.” While the message is the same, gentle directives are generally received more openly than closed-ended demands–from either side.


Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice Residential Treatment Center is a 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. 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 able to manage their emotions. 

Contact us at 866-278-3345. We can help your family today!

ADHD in teens

How does ADHD in teens affect social skills?

How does ADHD in teens affect social skills? 2560 1707 srtc_admin

Ever since ADHD emerged as a medical diagnosis in the late 1970s, thousands of children and teens have been diagnosed. As the years passed more research has emerged on how to help treat those affected and has given parents guides to help children navigate life. With some coaching and mild interventions, your child should be able to have a healthy and successful life.

Symptoms of ADHD in teens

Can include:

  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity 
  • These symptoms can be combined as well 
  • Because of these symptoms, children can also struggle with social skills and have difficulty making friends

My child is struggling socially. How can I help? 

As parents, it can be difficult to see your child struggle to make friends. Encouraging positive social behavior and helping to educate others on your child’s condition can help your child feel more comfortable. Some helpful actions can include: 

  • Give immediate and frequent feedback on inappropriate behavior and missed social cues
  • Focus on areas where your child is struggling with and role play social situations
  • Encourage your child to interact with a smaller group of peers to limit social anxiety
  • Reward improved social skills 

Benefits of therapy programs teaching social skills:

At residential programs like Solstice West, your child will learn how to interact with peers on a deeper level. Intensive therapy groups such as processing groups will give your child’s peers a chance to talk to your child about how their behavior is affecting the group as a whole. The milieu based therapeutic approach allows your child to learn social cues through experience with support staff guiding her. This way they can experience social interactions and have support if they begins to feel overwhelmed or confused. If you as parents have specific concerns you can talk you your therapist and treatment team to come up with a specialized plan to work on certain issues. 

bullying and self esteem

How Does Bullying Affect Self-Esteem in Teens?

How Does Bullying Affect Self-Esteem in Teens? 2560 1707 srtc_admin

Sometimes it can feel like bullying has become more and more prevalent in teens. Consistent torment by peers can take a toll on teens particularly in the way they view themselves or on their self-esteem. Studies show that teens who are repeatedly bullied have lower reports of self esteem and higher rates of depression and anxiety. However, parents can have an important role in decreasing the effect of bullying. One study from the University of Missouri says that if teens feel a sense of belonging, either with their family or peers, the less likely they will be a victim or even engage in bullying behaviors. 

Self Esteem and Bullying

Engaging with your daughter, asking open ended questions about their day can help parents create and maintain a connection that can make your teen feel more secure.  This relationship can be an important source of support for your daughter. If they experiences bullying they are more likely to come to you if there is a secure and open relationship in place.  

Another factor in how self-esteem is affected by bullying is a decrease in social and communication skills. As parents, it’s important to encourage these behaviors with specific praises focusing on behavior such as “Wow you did a really good job talking to your teacher today” or “I really like how good of a friend you are”. If your child is feeling down and being hard on herself, expressing out loud some positive traits that you see in their can be really helpful for combating negative self-talk. Keeping up a positive commentary of how much your child means to you can also be beneficial even if they don’t reciprocate. Remember, they always hear you even if they don’t show it. 

Finding Help at Solstice West

If your child is struggling with low self esteem and bullying, Solstice West can help. We are a residential treatment center with a focus on helping teens struggling with mental health challenges related to trauma. Learn more about our program by calling out admissions team at 866-278-3345.

students with social anxiety

Small Class Sizes Support Students with Social Anxiety

Small Class Sizes Support Students with Social Anxiety 2560 1707 srtc_admin

In a public school classroom with thirty other students, it can feel overwhelming for teens with social anxiety to speak up and participate in class discussions. They may worry about other people judging what they say or feel ashamed for not participating often. This can also make it hard for them to get to know other students. Instead, they may sit in the back of the classroom and tune out other people’s voices when they get overwhelmed, which can affect their ability to stay caught up on course material. At residential treatment centers, small class sizes are designed to support students with social anxiety by empowering them to be an active participant in the classroom. 

How Does Social Anxiety Affect School Performance?

Anxiety can affect learning in a variety of ways–from feeling nervous before a test at school to avoiding asking teachers clarifying questions to a fear of going to school and feeling alone. Sometimes kids will do perfectly well on tests and homework, but when they’re called on in class teachers hit a wall in trying to engage students. They might have been paying attention to the lesson and they might even know the answer, but when they’re called on their anxiety level becomes so heightened that they can’t respond.  

Some kids will avoid or even refuse to participate in things that make them anxious. This includes obvious anxiety triggers like giving presentations, but also things like gym class, eating in the cafeteria, and doing group work.

When teens start skipping classes or assignments to avoid facing social anxiety, it might look to their teachers and peers like they are uninterested or underachieving, but the opposite might be true. Often, teens with social anxiety avoid things because they are afraid of making a mistake or being judged. When teens are excessively self-conscious, it can make it difficult for them to participate in class and socialize with peers.

The Power of Individualized Instruction

For many teens who struggle with anxiety in social situations, they have a much easier time showing what they know when teachers engage with them one-on-one or away from the group. It is easy for these students to slip under the radar, as teachers tend to focus on students who are more vocal in the classroom, including both those who are active participants and those who are disruptive. While staying after class to ask questions or opting to submit written responses to show that they are engaged with the material are helpful alternatives, many teachers do not have additional time to dedicate to personalizing an academic plan for each student.

With smaller class sizes and opportunities for tutoring or academic advising, students with social anxiety are given space to develop the skills they need to be successful in the classroom. 

Accommodations for Social Anxiety in Residential Treatment

Residential treatment centers that offer accredited academic programs are better prepared to make accommodations for students with social anxiety by offering a supportive learning environment. 

The Academic Director at Solstice West reviews all student records (transcripts, report cards, neuropsychiatric testing, educational testing, etc.) and ensures placement in the correct classes in order to facilitate successful learning, credit remediation or recovery, and to keep the student on track for high school graduation. An academic plan for each student is developed to address any and all academic concerns, including seemingly unrelated mental health struggles like social anxiety.

By offering 5 school quarters year-round and rolling admissions, teachers are better able to work with students on an individual basis to test their comprehension and use creative strategies to help teens with different learning styles succeed. With class sizes of up to eight students, group discussions feel less overwhelming and it is easier for students to get to know their classmates. Teachers also work closely with the treatment team to understand how teens with social anxiety are adjusting to the therapeutic milieu and how their outside social interactions may affect how engaged they are in class.

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 child address how social anxiety affects their learning and work towards success in and out of the classroom.

teens with social anxiety

Navigating Online Relationships for Teens with Social Anxiety

Navigating Online Relationships for Teens with Social Anxiety 2560 1709 srtc_admin

Social media is no longer just for networking with friends and family. In fact, many teens follow more influencers than people they know online. In order to go “viral” on a platform, their posts have to be public. As digital privacy becomes less important to teens, many teens are becoming more digitally intimate–sharing personal details online to people they don’t know in person. For teens with social anxiety who find it easier to develop online relationships than with their peers offline, it is important to remember that navigating online relationships requires different social rules. 

Why Does Socializing Online Feel Safer for Some Teens?

  • More anonymity
  • Delayed response time 
  • Can use filters, Photoshop, or a fake name
  • Less expectation of intimacy
  • Less fear of rejection 
  • Wider circle of acquaintances

For some teens who have experienced rejection and isolation offline, they may feel more comfortable interacting with others through a screen. Even if they recognize that their online relationships aren’t healthy or that the other person isn’t putting in enough effort, they may continue to pursue this relationship as online rejection hurts less than face-to-face rejection. If someone were to reject them online, it is not like the entire school would find out and shame them. 

Another benefit of socializing online for teens with social anxiety is that, in some ways, they might experience less Fear of Missing Out. They are able to maintain a wider circle of acquaintances and keep tabs on what is going on in the lives of people they know without being expected to start a conversation or make plans. This can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

Online socializing can help anxious teens maintain relationships with acquaintances that they may have struggled to make the effort to see, if they go to different schools or live in different cities. It can also help them develop stronger relationships with people that they may be too anxious to talk to at school. For example, introverted teens may prefer texting someone back and forth than picking up the phone or meeting someone at a coffeeshop for the same conversation, let alone trying to have the same conversation in front of a bigger group of people. Some people find it easier to make a generic post to their “followers” instead of sending the same text multiple times or starting a group chat with a restricted number of people, as they never know who might respond.

What Are the Risks Associated with Socializing Online?

  • Presenting a false self
  • Difficulty engaging in face-to-face interactions
  • Problems identifying red flags
  • Sexting
  • Getting catfished 

Social anxiety is often a predictor of internet addiction. Ironically, the more time teens spend worrying about how they are perceived online, the more likely they are to update their newsfeed or check for new notifications. One would think that the anxiety they experience around their social media presence would discourage them from being glued to their screens, but the opposite is usually true. The potential validation they might receive from online interactions often outweighs potential threats or hate messages.

How is Online Socializing Different from Offline Socializing?

  • Privacy Issues
  • Lack of Nonverbal Cues
  • Conversations cannot be permanently deleted
  • Hard to fully trust that the other person is being transparent
  • People are more likely to perform for an online audience

At a relationship-based residential treatment center for girls, teens learn how to be present with others offline and to interact without the distraction of smartphones. Many teens with social anxiety have developed insecurities in relationships based on past negative experiences with peers at school. In order to change beliefs about not being good enough in relationships, they must confront these beliefs and build evidence that this is not always true. 

Teens who had previously turned to the Internet to receive validation learn that they are liked by others when they act like their true selves. During group therapy, teens with social anxiety learn how to actively listen to others, ask for help, and provide mutual support as they discuss their relationship styles and how they developed these beliefs. This can lead to conversations about values in relationships, online safety, and ways to manage anxiety.

Solstice RTC Can Help 

Solstice is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls and assigned female at birth often struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD,  technology addiction, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. Through a unique combination of therapeutic programs based upon both traditional and holistic mental health treatment, we treat our clients with age and gender-specific techniques. We strive to empower teenage people with the ability to believe in themselves offline and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life.

For more information about smartphone addiction, contact us at 866-278-3345. 


mental health crisis

Transitioning Back to School Environment After Mental Health Crisis

Transitioning Back to School Environment After Mental Health Crisis 2560 1706 srtc_admin

As many as one in five children need help with a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression. These students often have trouble processing information or focusing, which can contribute to a cycle of increased anxiety, dropping grades and missed school. One study found that nearly 80 percent of students failed to receive the mental health care they needed, and more than 50 percent of students ages 14 and older with emotional and behavioral issues drop out of school. Attending a residential treatment center with an accredited academic program can help teens integrate back into a school environment after a mental health crisis.

Fears About Returning to School

It is hard to meet academic expectations when you’re going through a lot outside of school. Added school stress can lead to teens shutting down when they are overwhelmed. Teens struggling with a mental health crisis are more likely to have attendance issues than their peers. 

Whether they’ve had to miss school for therapy appointments or hospitalizations or have had trouble motivating themselves to get out of bed on time, teens are often more worried about being judged by their peers than the amount of makeup work they may have to do. They may not know how to explain to others why they’ve been absent or how to ask teachers for help. Often, teachers struggle to accommodate students who are behind in class as they teach too many students to offer individualized attention. 

For many teenagers, a toxic school environment is one of their biggest stressors–if they’ve been bullied by their peers, if their school friends experiment with substances at school, or if they are struggling with untreated learning differences. Going back to the same school may not be the best option for them, especially if they’ve missed enough school that they may have to repeat classes or be held back a year. 

Integrated Academics and Mental Health Treatment

Many of the families that we work with choose Solstice RTC for its accredited academic program that allows their child to remain in a classroom environment while receiving mental health treatment. As mental health and academic success often clash, we believe it is important to address struggles in both areas. 

The academic program at Solstice boasts 4 general education teachers, a special education teacher, fitness director, and art teacher who all teach direct instruction classes and are highly qualified in their subject area. Offering 6 classes a semester, class sizes range from 6-12 students in general education classes, and 1-4 students in study strategy classes focused on helping students organize and manage their time.

Highlights of Solstice’s academic program include:


  • Working on credit recovery. With year-round academics split into five quarters instead of two semesters, students are able to work at their own pace. Students can catch up on classes they’ve missed, take fun electives, or accelerate classes. Our program allows students to transfer credits they’ve earned to any academic institution they transfer to after they leave or to graduate from high school with a diploma from our state-certified private school.
  • Learning study skills. Many students judge their academic potential by the grades they get, rather than what they’ve truly comprehended or how passionate they are about a subject. While students are given letter grades through our program, teachers focus on helping students develop better study habits by using a variety of creative teaching strategies that appeal to different learning styles. 




Students with learning differences can choose to work with our Special Education teacher who specializes in teaching executive functioning skills and study strategies. They works one on one each week with their students to figure out what they need to work on specifically in school and to see if students need more one on one support in their other classes.  


  • Engaging in experiential learning. Students learn best when they understand why the information is important. For example, it’s useless to memorize a math equation without doing practice problems around its practical use. Similar to our experiential approach to therapy, our academic program aims to get students involved in small group discussions, personal projects, and fun activities.


Science labs involve lots of hands-on activities that are fun and can be applicable to life, like baking cookies, making soap, or identifying plants in the backyard. English classes might recommend journaling assignments or books that parallel the Hero’s Journey the girls and assigned female at birth have embarked on in individual therapy.


  • Rebuilding motivation.


We understand that every student has a different learning style that works for them and different subjects that they are interested in. It is unrealistic to expect them to enjoy all of their core classes equally, but we remind students not to get discouraged by the subjects they are less interested in and to consider how they connect to things they do care about.

Our ultimate goal is to help students recognize what they can take away from the classroom and apply to their everyday lives. Many students become complacent in a school environment and question why education matters when they have other things going on in their lives or are struggling to plan for the future. We also help older students study for standardized tests, apply for colleges, and explore their career goals.

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 child work through their mental health crisis and towards a healthier, happier future.

LGBTQ teens and bullying

Family Support Reduces Risk of Bullying Among LGBTQ Teens

Family Support Reduces Risk of Bullying Among LGBTQ Teens 2560 1922 srtc_admin

Adolescence is an especially critical time for LGBTQ teens who show higher rates of suicide attempts or thoughts, substance abuse, and depression, and higher rates of being bullied. Those who lack support from family or friends are even more likely to struggle with their mental health. One of the biggest fears teens have is not whether they will be rejected by their peers at school, but rather how supportive their family will be if they ask for help. While these may seem like separate issues, family support reduces the risk and impact of bullying among teens. 

The Role of Family Acceptance

In a study investigating protective factors against bullying, researchers found that LGBTQ teens were more than 25% less likely to be frequently bullied at school if they were from supportive family backgrounds. As people develop their sense of self and beliefs about relationships early in life, family support during adolescence helps teens build their sense of identity, self-esteem, and control.

Most people who struggle with low self-esteem have had experiences where they have felt isolated from others and rejected by others. This contributes to feeling insecure about accomplishments and being scared of failure in terms of reaching their goals and meeting other people’s expectations. 

While parent support may not necessarily be able to prevent bullying at school, it has a positive impact on a teen’s self-esteem, which influences how they may respond to being bullied or rejected by classmates. Teens who feel confident about who they are and what they like to do are less likely to let other people’s opinions shake their self-esteem and resilience.

How Family Relationships Affect Peer Relationships (and vice versa)

Positive relationships with parents cultivate self-esteem in children, which leads to more positive relationships with peers in adolescence and young adulthood. Young adults who have struggled to connect with others through childhood are more at risk of being bullied, which reinforces low self-esteem. 

A study at Northwestern University found that LGBTQ youth who have a strong network of support from their peers and their significant other not only showed lower levels of distress but also experienced increased support from their family over the course of adolescence. This demonstrates that support can have a domino effect. When teens feel more supported in their lives, they are also more likely to trust others and attempt to expand their circle.

Increasing Family Support for LGBTQ teens

Families recognize that creating success may involve making changes on their end to support a healthier relationship with their child. The relationships that teens develop with their parents are often their most long-lasting relationships, regardless of how often they see each other through adulthood. For this reason, rebuilding family relationships is an important part of helping teens make lasting changes in their lives. 

As a lack of communication and misunderstanding between parents and their children are the main sources of family conflict, one of the goals of family therapy is to help families improve their communication styles by facilitating interactions in various settings.

Family Involvement in Residential Treatment may include:

  • Letter writing
  • 90-minute family therapy sessions weekly by phone or video conference
  • Face-to-face therapy sessions
  • Therapy assignments or readings for parents
  • Weekend visits on or off-campus
  • Multi-day family seminars every quarter
  • Home visits once approved

Solstice West Can Help 

Solstice RTC is a residential treatment center for young girls and assigned female 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. Solstice gives teens the skills and support they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, healthy, and capable of self-managing. We can help your family today!

Contact us at 801-919-8858 to learn more about our family programming.