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Trauma

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 srtc_admin

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 Solstice RTC

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 srtc_admin

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.

blame and shame in relationships

How to Navigate Family Conflict Without Blame

How to Navigate Family Conflict Without Blame 2560 1437 srtc_admin

Conflict happens in every family. And while it is completely normal, it is important to deal with conflict in a healthy way. If you find that your conversations around family issues lead to yelling or slamming doors, it may be time to evaluate your communication methods. Talking in circles or playing the blame game fuels tension and the focus becomes who is right instead of finding a solution to the problem.

Communicating Without Blame

Good communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship. When you are able to communicate effectively, you build trust and feel supported. 

  • Use “I” Statements: An “I” statement is a style of communication that focuses on the feelings or beliefs of the speaker rather than thoughts and characteristics that the speaker attributes to the listener. For example, if your teen isn’t cleaning their room after you’ve asked them multiple times, instead of saying “You still haven’t cleaned your room. You’re so irresponsible!” You can try, “I feel disrespected when I have to ask you multiple times to clean your room.”. 
  • Take Responsibility: It’s easy to feel defensive during an argument. Despite feeling frustrated in the moment, in most conflicts, there is fault on both sides. Instead of putting all the blame on the other person, take a moment to think about how your actions or behaviors may have contributed to the conflict. Admitting that you may have played a role in the problem helps the other person feel like they’re not just being attacked for their mistakes. 
  • Approach Conflict with a Problem Solving Attitude: Instead of focusing on how you are right and your teen is wrong during conflict, think about how you can come up with a solution that will make both parties feel heard and supported. When we get caught up in who is right, it leaves no room for moving forward towards a solution.
  • Take a Break: Not every conflict is going to be solved in the moment. If emotions are getting high and one person is placing blame on the other, take a break. You can have an understanding in your family if at any time a conflict becomes counterproductive, you are always welcome to take a break to de-escalate and come back to the conversation when everyone feels more calm and ready to find a solution. 
  • Seek Help: While it would be nice to be able to solve all of our problems on your own, there may be times when you need to seek outside help. If your family is unable to resolve conflict and you find yourselves in the cycle of arguments and blame, a family therapist can help. A trained mental health professional can help your family identify areas of conflict and work with you to build healthy communication skills to work through those issues in the future. 

Solstice RTC Can Help

Our mission is to support adolescents and their families in developing excellence in relationships, influence, character, and health throughout their life journey. Through relationship-based programming, we help students restore and rebuild healthy, close relationships with their families, peers, and staff.

Family therapy interventions are at the heart of our clinical program. We firmly believe in the strong nature and immense importance of family relationships. Research studies on the effectiveness of residential treatment indicate that the most significant factor in creating positive long-term outcomes for the child is parental involvement in the treatment process. Parental involvement is defined not only by the parents being actively involved in the child’s treatment but being actively involved in their own treatment and growth process. For more information please call (866) 278-3345.

how to deal with family stress during the holidays

Dealing with Family Trauma During the Holidays

Dealing with Family Trauma During the Holidays 2560 1709 srtc_admin

When we think of the holidays we may think of twinkling lights, family traditions, and general merriment. But the reality is that for many people, the holidays are fraught with difficult emotions and memories. This holiday season, think about what might make you go through the holidays feeling stronger and more confident. Even little changes can make a difference in the way we deal with trauma and stress during this time of year. 

Identify Triggers: Think about how the holiday season impacts you. What helps and what hurts? The holidays are full of nostalgia and memories that can be both positive and negative. It can be helpful to go into the holidays with a clear understanding of what situations or topics may have a negative affect on your mental health. 

Healthy Coping Skills: With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season many people lose sight of what keeps them physically healthy and mentally grounded throughout the rest of the year. Making the time to go for a walk or engage in a mindfulness practice can make a big difference in how you handle holiday stress. 

Have Realistic Expectations: The holidays can come with a lot of pressure and expectations of how things “should” be. Remember that those happy holidays that we see in commercials and movies are not most people’s reality. Most families have issues, whether that is stress or trauma. Having unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment. Instead, know that the holidays will not be perfect and that’s completely normal. 

Set Boundaries: The holidays are a busy time for everyone, and with the pressure of family, friends, and work obligations it is also a time when it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It can be helpful to discern what you “need” to do and what you “want” to do. For example, do you need to attend every gathering you’re invited to? Not if it causes you stress or is triggering. Do you need to attend your family dinner even though you know it will devolve into arguments? No, you do not. Try thinking about what you want to do. What brings you joy during the holidays? Maybe it’s baking cookies or visiting your grandparents. Those are the things to make time for. 

Reach Out: Dealing with family stress and trauma at any time of the year can be challenging, but it’s especially challenging during the holidays. In those times when you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that you will not stay in this place forever. Allow your mind and body to process the grief that you may experience. Have people in your life, whether friends, family, or mental health professionals, who you can reach out to when those heavy emotions emerge. It is especially important to have a support system in place during the holidays. 

Solstice RTC Can Help

The core of our programming is based on healing damaged relationships and restoring healthy connections within the family system. In addition to weekly family therapy sessions by phone or video-conference, we also invite families to come to participate in face-to-face family therapy sessions. Weekend visits with their children are encouraged.

We also conduct onsite, multi-day, family seminars which includes all families who are currently enrolled in our program. These intensive, multi-family experiences are conducted 4 times a year and provide powerful, experiential, and therapeutic experiences. Oftentimes families will highlight these events as significant turning points in their lives. For more information please call (801) 406-7450.

teen borderline personality disorder treatment

Borderline Personality Disorder In Teens: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Borderline Personality Disorder In Teens: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment 2560 1707 srtc_admin

According to the National Institute of Mental Health: “Borderline personality disorder is an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships.”

Teens with borderline personality disorder may experience an intense fear of abandonment or instability. They may also have difficulty spending time alone, but their impulsive actions and mood swings push others away. Borderline personality disorder usually begins in early adulthood, and while it can seem to be worse during early adulthood it may gradually get better with age. 

Signs and symptoms of BPD may include:

  • A pattern of unsuitable and intense relationships
  • Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that includes shifting goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad or as if you don’t exist at all.
  • Periods of stress-related paranoia or loss of contact with reality
  • Impulsive and risky behavior
  • Suicidal threats or behavior or self injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection. 
  • Mood swings which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame, or anxiety
  • Ongoing feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate or intense anger

Treatment Options

If you are concerned that your child is showing signs of borderline personality disorder, the first step is to meet with a mental health professional. A clinician will be able to provide a formal diagnosis for your teen as well as create a treatment plan. Treatment can help teens learn skills to manage their condition. A mental health professional may also suggest seeking treatment for any other mental health disorders that often occur in tandem with borderline personality disorder such as depression or substance abuse. 

Psychotherapy is a fundamental treatment approach for borderline personality disorder. The goals of psychotherapy are to help teens learn to manage emotions that feel uncomfortable, reduce impulsivity, work on improving relationships, and learn about borderline personality disorder. One type of psychotherapy is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT includes group and individual therapy designed specifically to treat borderline personality disorder. DBT uses a skills-based approach to teach teens how to manage their emotions, tolerate distress and improve relationships.

Learning to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors takes time. There may be times when their symptoms are better or worse, but treatment can improve their ability to function and helps teens feel better about themselves. There may be a time when your teen needs more intensive care, and a residential treatment center can provide the medical and emotional support they need. 

Solstice RTC Can Help

Our goal is to equip our students 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.

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. Solstice RTC is committed to hiring the most qualified, professional, caring staff that is dedicated to helping the students we serve. Our staff also undergoes specific, regular training to continue their own personal and professional development which is essential to the life-creating work we do. For more information, contact us today at (866) 278-3345.

somatic experiencing

5 Elements of Somatic Experiencing for Trauma

5 Elements of Somatic Experiencing for Trauma 2560 1440 srtc_admin

When we talk about trauma, we usually refer to a specific event and memories of the event. Peter Levine, Ph.D., the founder of Somatic Experiencing, argues that “trauma is not an event, but energy that gets locked in your body around real or perceived threats.” This suggests that the effects of trauma linger in the body whether or not the event is actively on someone’s mind. Somatic Experiencing is an effective treatment option for teens struggling with trauma as it helps them tap into the “Felt Sense” of the experience beyond reprocessing emotional details of traumatic events.

What is the Traumatic Brain?

Our brains function in two primary ways: in safe mode or in survival mode. In safe mode, our brains are calm and open to new experiences. In survival mode, fear takes over. Our brains become hyper-focused on avoiding potential threats, whether they are based on the past or the present.

According to Levine, “if a person is unable to restore a sense of physical safety in the aftermath of a threatening event, their nervous system gets stuck in the survival states of fight, flight, or freeze. The longer survival brain stays on, the harder it is to turn off.”

This explains why your child may have a difficult time being present in the aftermath of a traumatic event. Her body’s memory may have a greater capacity than their emotional memory. As a result, they may become more hypervigilant and worry that traumatic experiences may repeat themselves. 

What is Somatic Experiencing? 

Somatic Experiencing helps teens move beyond the cognitive process of understanding their trauma by reprogramming the body’s primitive survival instincts, which allows them to feel a greater sense of connection, safety, and ease in one’s body. This model can be applied when processing traumatic events or any negative situations.

The goal of Somatic Experiencing is to help teens identify:

  • Sensations in specific areas of the body
  • Imagery associated with the experience
  • Behaviors or Impulses that arise
  • Affect or Emotions in the moment
  • Meaning or thoughts assigned to the experience

Why is This Effective for Teens?

Cultivating awareness of these situations is the foundation of healing psychological effects of trauma because it allows teens to tolerate and move through physiological sensations trapped in the body. It can be difficult for teens to think about or describe details of events, but they are more conscious of how they feel physically, even if they don’t always understand the connection between physical complaints and intense emotions. 

While teens often struggle opening up to others about details of past trauma based on a fear of being misunderstood or rejected, this approach focuses on how it impacts them in multiple areas. Looking at these separate elements of somatic experiencing, teens can recognize how different areas influence each other and determine which elements are related to past experiences and which are rational in the present moment.

We integrate a variety of evidence-based techniques into our treatment model for trauma, including mindfulness, somatic experiencing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Brainspotting.. By focusing on the relationship between how the body stores traumatic stress and how the mind processes it, we are able to help students begin the healing process. These techniques encourage students to slow down and increase awareness of their inner experience.

Solstice 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 relationship struggles. We offer a multidisciplinary holistic approach to trauma recovery, including mindfulness, EMDR, and Brainspotting. 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. We can help your family today!

Contact us at 866-278-3345 to learn more about treatment options for trauma.

teen in crisis

5 Ways to Connect with Your Teen in Crisis

5 Ways to Connect with Your Teen in Crisis 2560 1751 srtc_admin

Have you ever tried to talk to your child mid-sob? In between gasps for breath, they are less likely to want to have a conversation. In fact, talking about why she’s upset in the moment might lead to more tears and lashing out. It’s difficult to allow their time to decompress when you want to connect with your teen in crisis, but giving their space to feel how they feels allows you to revisit the issue later when you are both able to have a more productive conversation. 

“I feel so disconnected from their when she’s struggling”

When your child is struggling with depression, relationship problems, or trauma, you want their to feel comfortable talking to you about it. They may prefer to deal with things on their own or turn to their friends, but it can feel like they are hiding things from you or that they doesn’t trust you. Even if they doesn’t vocalize what they are going through, it can have an impact on the entire family.

You may not understand what she’s going through if you haven’t experienced similar things. You may be just as comfortable tiptoeing around the white elephant in the room. The disconnect may come from wanting to say the right thing or do the right thing and worrying that they won’t be receptive to how you try to connect with her. 

Although it can feel personal, it is not your fault, but it isn’t hers either. 

Ways to Support Your Struggling Teen in Crisis:

  • Be patient. If your teen is in the middle of a personal crisis, it will take time for them to find their footing again. You may be confident that you have solutions that might work for them, but they may not be in a solution-oriented mindset yet. While you may want your child to feel better, offering solutions can be internalized as “not being allowed to feel the way I do.” Listen to them express their emotions and let them have that space. When they are ready to ask for suggestions, they will ask.
  • Be present. Whether or not they want to talk about how they feel, let them know that you are there for them. Acknowledge that what they are going through is difficult. You may not be able to offer new solutions, but it can be comforting to know that they are not alone as they go through this. Continue to check in.
  • Be specific. Asking open-ended questions like, “is there anything I can do” implies infinite possibilities but may also suggest that you aren’t confident about what might help. Often, your teen might not know either. Coming up with a few concrete suggestions can encourage them to think about and choose what might be beneficial. Be willing to be flexible if they turn down your first suggestions.
  • Try to distract them from overwhelming feelings. Even if they reach out to you, chances are focusing on how they feel by processing it can sometimes reinforce how often they’re stuck in those thoughts. Suggest doing something fun together to get their mind off the situation.
  • Take care of yourself. It can be difficult to separate your daughter’s feelings from your own as you try to step in to help. It’s important to remember that their emotions can influence your own. Role model self-care by putting yourself first so that you are better prepared to be there for them. 

Solstice 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 relationship struggles. This program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy along with an accredited academic program that emphasizes creative expression and experiential learning. 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!

coping after loss

Coping After Loss: Grief or Trauma?

Coping After Loss: Grief or Trauma? 2560 1504 srtc_admin

Our society does not give people much room or time to grieve. Many teens are not taught how to grieve or how to support others experiencing loss. Instead, they are taught that losses of all kinds are inevitable and that people learn to move on eventually. While this is true, many teens struggle with coping after loss for an extended period of time. In order for parents to understand how to help their child, it is important to differentiate between if they are experiencing grief or trauma.

What is Grief?

Grief is a “normal emotional response” to not only the death of someone you love, but any loss – loss of health, romantic relationships, friends, or even faith. When we lose someone or something we have held dear or have felt attached to, we grieve.

Labeling grief as a “normal” response to loss does not mean that traumatic grief is an “abnormal” response, but it suggests that it is natural to feel sad, anxious, or hopeless in the aftermath of loss. While people should check in and offer support, it is important to allow people time and space to grieve without judging the way they are processing their loss. 

What is Traumatic Grief?

One cannot underestimate the impact of personal factors like emotional regulation, cognitive responses, secondary stressors, coping style, prior history of trauma, and access to support and resources in determining how a person responds to an event.  It is true that certain types of loss happen in a way that they are more likely to be experienced as traumatic, but it isn’t a given that someone will be traumatized by an event or that everyone involved will be affected in the same way.

Traumatic grief can significantly impact one’s health, relationships, and outlook on life. Teens may take on responsibility for the event and become hypervigilant that they will re-experience the event. Even if they were not directly impacted, secondary trauma can have a similar effect as being personally victimized.

How are responses different?

There is not a time limit on the length it takes to heal after loss that sets grief apart from traumatic grief. While there are many similarities, traumatic grief tends to be internalized more and is associated with other emotional issues.

  • While grief reactions generally stand alone, trauma reactions include grief reactions. 
  • The most common reaction to grief is sadness. The most common reaction to trauma is terror. 
  • Many people who have experienced traumatic events struggle to talk about what happened, while people who are grieving are more likely to want to talk about painful reminders.
  • Grieving is often focused on what life is like in the absence of something. Trauma distorts one’s self-image and sense of safety.
  • When grieving, many people express anger toward an event, while people healing from trauma are more likely to internalize anger or express it towards others.

Ways to Support Your Child Coping with Loss:

  • Validate the pain of their loss. Many teens are in denial after loss and try to repress intense emotions. Mourning requires teens to acknowledge the pain they are experiencing and to search for meaning. As your teen grieves, you may feel impacted by their pain. Reassure them that it is natural to be significantly affected and that they are not expected to move on immediately.
  • Give them appropriate “breathing room.” Don’t take it personally if they are struggling to open up and talk about what they’ve experienced. Social withdrawal is a common response. They may feel distant from others and the person they were before the event. They may feel overwhelmed getting back into their normal daily routine and need more time to readjust. 
  • Let them know you are always there for them so they feel comfortable talking to you whenever they are ready. Ask open-ended questions about how they’re doing and offer to support them in whatever way they might need. Don’t judge the way they are dealing with their situation.
  • Find resources available to help your teen cope with the loss they’ve experienced. If you are concerned about how they have been coping, reach out for professional help for guidance. It is common for teens to feel hopeless as they grieve and they are more likely to participate in risky behaviors. Learning more about the impact of trauma teaches you how to support them better. 

Solstice Can Help

Solstice West is a residential treatment center that creates a supportive space for teenage girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-18 to process loss that they have experienced and grow emotionally. We take a relationship-based approach to healing from personal trauma that encourages friendship, peer support, and mentorship through group therapy and teamwork. Our treatment model incorporates adventure therapy, fitness, artistic expression, and community service to encourage normal adolescent experiences, social skills, and independent living skills.

 

Contact us at 866-278-3345 to learn more about trauma and grief. We can help your family today!

trauma sensitive mindfulness

Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Deepening Awareness of Others’ Individual Needs

Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Deepening Awareness of Others’ Individual Needs 5774 3243 srtc_admin

David Treleaven, author of “Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for  Safe and Transformative Healing” defines trauma as “any experience stressful enough to leave us feeling helpless, frightened, and profoundly unsure. After such experiences, we are left with a diminished sense of security with others and in the world, and a sense of feeling unsafe inside our own skin.” Treleaven suggests that integrating Trauma-informed techniques into mindfulness practices helps make the benefits of mindfulness more accessible to everyone.

How Traumatic Stress Interferes with Mindfulness

David Treleaven discusses the subtler ways that our body can be traumatized by certain experiences and how these experiences can get in the way of being fully present during traditional mindfulness practices that are intended to reduce symptoms of traumatic stress rather than trigger them. In traditional settings, it can be difficult for mindfulness teachers to pick up on signs that their students may have a history of trauma; however, they can pick up on body cues that signal discomfort, tension, or insecurity. 

4 R’s of Trauma-informed Therapy: 

  • Recognizes symptoms. Our therapists conduct thorough assessments of students and discuss their trauma history directly, but they also observe their triggers and the way their body responds when discussing trauma and in their everyday lives.
  • Realizes the impact. Our therapists have years of experience working with teen girls and assigned female at birth who have a history of trauma and have seen how it can impact multiple areas of their life, including relationships, academic performance, and self-esteem.
  • Responds by integrating knowledge about trauma into policies. They are sensitive to their student’s history and use strategies that emphasize self-regulation and nonjudgmental. 
  • Resisting re-traumatization is the end goal of trauma-informed therapy. students have learned to identify triggers, challenge negative thoughts, and choose a different path. 

Goals of Trauma-informed Mindfulness: 

  • To minimize distress for people practicing mindfulness
  • To forward a systemic understanding of trauma
  • To advocate for a continued partnership between mindfulness practitioners and Trauma professionals

Integrating Mindfulness into Trauma Therapy

We integrate a variety of evidence-based techniques into our treatment model for trauma, including mindfulness, somatic experiencing, EMDR, and Brainspotting. By focusing on the relationship between how the body stores traumatic stress and how the mind processes it, we are able to help students begin the healing process. These techniques encourage students to slow down and increase awareness of their inner experience. 

While many mindfulness practices may involve controlling the breath and focusing on specific things, the goal of Trauma-sensitive mindfulness is to notice whatever is happening in your body and to let go of judgments about what your practice is supposed to look like. This may include changing settings, moving more often, playing certain songs, or scratching sitting all together and looking for other ways to find your flow free from judgment and fear. Mindfulness practices and mindful living principles are an integral part of our program as coping mechanisms and healthy habits.

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 relationship struggles. We offer a multidisciplinary holistic approach to trauma recovery, including mindfulness, EMDR, and Brainspotting. 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. We can help your family today!

Contact us at 866-278-3345.