• Residential Treatment Program for Teens 14-17

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social anxiety in teens

Shyness or Social Anxiety in Teens? Symptoms and Triggers

Shyness or Social Anxiety in Teens? Symptoms and Triggers 1790 2560 Solstice RTC

Adolescence is filled with new experiences and challenges. Teen girls are going through physical and emotional changes and puberty starts and social dynamics begin to shift. With all these changes, it is easy to see how young women may feel uncomfortable or shy in these new situations. Friend groups may start to expand or contract, and your daughter will have to begin to learn how to create new friendships and relationships. This can be challenging for any teen girl, but for girls struggling with social anxiety, this can be even more difficult. 

Struggling to fit in with people your own age as a teen girl or child assigned female at birth is terrible. Most teen girls and assigned female at birth base their entire lives around their social life. They make it a higher priority than spending time with their family and/or even doing well academically. For some teen girls, this social life is not an option. Social anxiety in teens can be absolutely crippling in many aspects of a teen’s life. Unlike the self-consciousness most people feel from time to time, social anxiety in teens creates a fear of social situations that is so intense people avoid all situations that might trigger the fear response.

What is social anxiety? 

Feelings of shyness or discomfort in certain situations aren’t necessarily signs of social anxiety disorder, particularly in children. Their comfort levels in social situations will vary, depending on their personality traits and life experiences. Some teens are naturally reserved and others are more outgoing.

In contrast to everyday nervousness, social anxiety disorder includes fear, anxiety and avoidance that interfere with daily routine, work, school or other activities. Social anxiety disorder typically begins in the early to mid-teens, though it can sometimes start in younger children or in adults.

Many people experience some form of anxiety in their lives, but social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder that causes extreme fear in social settings. Teens with this disorder have trouble talking to peers, meeting new people, and attending social gatherings. They fear being judged or scrutinized by others. They may understand that their fears are irrational or unreasonable, but feel powerless to overcome them.

There is no one cause of social anxiety, but current research shows that it can be caused by a combination of environmental factors and genetics. Some negative experiences that could contribute to social anxiety are bullying, family conflict, and abuse. Physical abnormalities such as a serotonin imbalance may contribute to this condition. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps regulate mood. An overactive amygdala (the part of the brain that controls fear response and feelings or thoughts of anxiety) may also cause these disorders.

Anxiety disorders can run in families, but it is currently unclear if there are genetic factors involved. A teen may develop an anxiety disorder by learning the behavior of a parent or family member who has an anxiety disorder. They learn to internalize these behaviors which can trigger a disorder of their own. Teens can also develop anxiety disorders as a result of being raised in controlling or overprotective environments.

Social anxiety in teens is actually fairly common. However, the social situations that trigger social anxiety can be very different. Some of these triggers include:

  • being the center of attention
  • meeting new people
  • making small talk
  • being criticized or teased
  • speaking with authority figures
  • public speaking
  • navigating new spaces

How can you tell if your teen has social anxiety?

Just because your teen occasionally gets nervous when she’s in social situations doesn’t mean they necessarily have social anxiety. Many people are shy or self-conscious—at least from time to time—but it doesn’t get in the way of their everyday functioning. Social anxiety in teens, on the other hand, does get in the way of a teen’s normal routine and can cause tremendous distress. That’s why it’s important to note symptoms of social anxiety in teens:

  • Fear that others will notice nervousness
  • Fear of humiliation and being watched by others
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Reddened face
  • Blushing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Trouble catching your breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling that your mind has gone blank
  • Muscle tension

Teens with social anxiety may avoid situations that they used to enjoy such as social gatherings or school events. They may begin to withdraw and isolate as a way to deal with their anxiety. And while avoiding situations that cause anxiety may help them feel better in the moment, their anxiety is likely to continue if they do not receive treatment. 

If you notice that your teen is exhibiting signs or symptoms of a social anxiety disorder, it may be time to seek out professional help for a diagnosis. According to the ADAA, about 36 percent of people with social anxiety don’t speak to a healthcare provider until they have had symptoms for at least 10 years. The symptoms of social anxiety may themselves be a deterrent to reaching out for help. A mental health professional will diagnose social phobia from a description of your teen’s symptoms. They can also diagnose social phobia after examining certain behavioral patterns.

Treating Social Anxiety

There are several types of treatment available for social anxiety disorder, and different types of treatment make work for different people. For some, one type of treatment is beneficial, for others, a combination of treatments may be helpful. 

Treatment options for social anxiety disorder include: 

Cognitive behavioral therapy: This therapy helps teens learn how to control anxiety through relaxation and breathing, and how to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. CBT helps teens recognize their behavior patterns and how to address negative patterns to create positive one. 

Exposure therapy: This type of therapy helps teens gradually face social situations, rather than avoiding them. They can practice coping skills in challenging environments so that they can start to become more comfortable in these situations. 

Group therapy: This therapy helps teens learn social skills and techniques to interact with peers in social settings. Participating in group therapy with others who have the same fears may make them feel less alone. It will give them a chance to practice their new skills through role-playing.

There are also lifestyle changes you and your teen can take into consideration. Paying attention to their sleep habits and making sure they are getting enough rest can be a good first step, as well as avoiding stimulants like caffeine that can make them feel jittery or exacerbate anxiety symptoms. Some teens may also benefit from medications that manage anxiety symptoms. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications can play a part in a treatment plan. 

The most important thing to understand when dealing with an anxiety disorder is that it will likely take time for your teen to get their symptoms under control. Encourage your teen to have patience and take pride in the steps they are taking to improve their mental health. 

Residential Treatment for Social Anxiety 

For some teens, making changes at home and participating in outpatient therapy can be helpful. Other teens may benefit from the structure and support of a residential treatment center. A residential treatment center like Solstice West combines therapy practices such as individual, family, adventure, and group therapy for a holistic treatment approach. 

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. Milieu experiential therapy utilizes the social culture of a residential treatment environment to create positive changes in your child’s behavior. These changes are achieved through the therapeutic use of our campus’s “community”, which includes their peers, staff, community roles and responsibilities, groups, and meetings. The positive influence of peers can promote a powerful and sustainable change when combined with the intentional application of other therapeutic interventions.

Volunteering and community service is a significant component of our adventure therapy program. Our students participate in community service regularly, volunteering at a variety of local and regional organizations. Our students learn how to build and maintain a sense of community by repeatedly volunteering with a select group of organizations in our area. As they gain stronger relationships with the people and organizations we work with, they begin to feel more connected to the community and the work they do.

Solstice West Can Help

Solstice West, a residential treatment center for teen girls and assigned females at birth ages 14-18, can help your child struggling with social anxiety. Solstice helps girls and assigned female at birth struggling with emotional and behavioral difficulties such as depression, anxiety, and eating issues. 

Our relationship-based philosophy is based on the significant body of research that supports the idea that the “therapeutic alliance” is the factor that contributes most to positive change in the therapeutic process. This “alliance” is referring to healthy, trusting relationships. At Solstice, we ensure that your child has the ability to develop many safe, secure, and authentic relationships. This begins with employing the right people and training them effectively in the process of building and maintaining these relationships with our clients and families. For more information about Solstice, please call (801) 406-7256.

therapy for adopted child

Therapy for Adopted Kids

Therapy for Adopted Kids 2560 1707 srtc_admin

Every adopted child is unique and has the potential to flourish in a loving home. However, because of the nature of adoption, there are several potential challenges that many adoptive parents will need to be prepared to confront. These include the aftereffects of trauma or neglect, feelings of abandonment, questions of identity, and social and emotional challenges related to race.

Some of the issues adopted children may struggle with include: a sense of abandonment, behavioral challenges, or attachment disorders. Children who experienced trauma or neglect may distrust the adults in their life and have difficulty cording with caregivers. It is important to understand your child’s issues and how they may relate to trauma versus just acting out. Seeking help for traumatized children can help parents put their child on a path to improved psychological health. 

Therapeutic Practice for Adopted Kids

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT can be used for children who have a history of trauma. The cognitive piece works to change negative behaviors by addressing a person’s thoughts or perceptions that can lead to a distorted view. The behavioral piece focuses on modifying habitual responses to triggers or stimuli. CBT pulls together many techniques currently used by practitioners, such as behavior and anger management, affect regulation, problem-solving, social skills training, cognitive restructuring, and communication. The advantage of this program is that all of these techniques, relevant handouts, training examples, and outcome measures are integrated in a structured approach that practitioners and supervisors can easily access and use.

Group Therapy: In group therapy, a small number of participants meet together under the guidance of a professionally trained therapist. During this time, group members are able to increase their social development skills and also help others develop their skills as well. Group therapy can help children gain a feeling of acceptance from their peers, improve self-esteem, teach self-regulation skills, and provide an opportunity for them to “role play” the lessons they learn in the group with their peers. 

Family Therapy: Family therapy is a type of psychological counseling (psychotherapy) that can help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts. Family therapy is often short term and can include all family members or just those who are willing and able to participate. Family members who participate should be open to discussing difficult family issues and be willing to openly and respectfully communicate with other family members. Family therapy can teach both parents and children skills needed to deepen family connections, even through stressful times. 

However you choose to work through your child’s issues, it is important to see your child as a whole. Not every issue is tied to their adoption. Making sure that your child’s emotional and physical needs are being met is a good first step towards their overall mental health. 

Solstice RTC Can Help

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.

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. For more information please call (801) 919-8858.

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.

handling family conflict

Family Conflict: How To Come Together Instead of Falling Apart

Family Conflict: How To Come Together Instead of Falling Apart 2560 1707 srtc_admin

Conflict in families can become more pronounced as children transition into adolescence, as teens crave independence and don’t necessarily want to run to their parents with every problem they are facing. What may have started off as an innocuous conversation about a homework assignment or an outfit choice can quickly turn into a heated argument, leaving all family members hurt and confused.

While some conflict during the teen years is healthy and normal, it can be stressful when it feels like constant conflicts are getting out of hand. There are many conflict management strategies that you and your teen can use to help solve problems together.


Ways Teens and Families Can Work Together to Resolve Conflict

Finding appropriate ways to work together as a family to resolve conflict can strengthen your relationship with your child as well as reduce family stress levels. Learning how to healthily manage conflict can also help your teen develop key relationship skills they will need as they transition into adulthood.

To set yourself up for success in working together with your teen, it can be helpful to readjust your mindset and perspective so you can identify the source of the conflict. Before addressing a conflict head-on, try perspective-taking by thinking back to what it was like when you were a teenager. While perspective-taking allows you to relate better to your teen, keep in mind that your teen might not be able to reciprocate as teenage brain development can hinder them from understanding the risks and consequences of a situation.

As you prepare for conversations with your teen, try to remain flexible on the smaller issues; your child will be more willing to listen to the bigger issues if they feels like they are not being criticized at every turn. It’s also important to gauge your own emotions before attempting to engage in conversation. If you are angry or upset that is likely to come across in your discussion and could result in further hurt feelings.

During conflict resolution conversations, eliminate all distractions and create an environment where both parties can truly listen to what the other is saying. Be sure to allow space for your teen to speak and share their perspective so they knows that their voice and stance on the issue matters as well. To effectively communicate your feelings, let their know why you want their to do or not do something. For example, “I feel worried about your safety when I don’t know where you are”. Conveying that your main concern is for their well-being will let their know that you care about their and what happens to her.

After both sides have shared their perspectives, be prepared to negotiate and arrive at a compromise. Compromising teaches teens important problem-solving skills and allows them to feel like they have truly been part of the resolution process. If despite your best efforts, conflicts persist, you could consider alternative options like Solstice RTC.

Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice RTC is a leading residential treatment program for young girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-17 that has been specifically designed to help families resolve conflicts and strengthen connections. We specialize in helping teens who struggle with anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationships by utilizing a unique blend of therapeutic techniques based on traditional and holistic methods.

Our mission is to support teenage girls and assigned female at birth and their families in creating strong, lasting relationships. The core of our programming focuses on healing damaged relationships and restoring healthy connections within the family system. For more information about how Solstice RTC can help strengthen your family bonds and assist your child with building and maintaining healthy relationships, please call (866) 278-3345.

emotional struggles in teens

Working Through Emotional Struggles in Teens

Working Through Emotional Struggles in Teens 2560 1707 Solstice RTC

Our culture often portrays teens as moody, dramatic, and difficult to deal with, which can mask deeper emotional and mental struggles that go far beyond the dramatic teen trope. An increasing number of preteens and teens are suffering from a range of emotional and mental struggles such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, behavior problems, low self esteem, and difficulty coping.

A 2019 study discovered that this upward trend is significant with a 52% increase of depressive symptoms in teens from 2005 to 2017 and a 71% increase in those experiencing serious psychological distress from 2008 to 2017. This study also discovered that these trends have had a much larger impact on younger generations which can be in part explained by the increase of electronic communication and social media.

The increased likelihood of teens experiencing emotional struggles in adolescence can have significant long term impacts on their futures, with a 2016 study claiming that suffering from emotional problems in adolescence puts individuals at a higher risk for future joblessness. Adolescents who were highly distressed during their teens years were 26% more likely to be unemployed during early adulthood, irrespective of socio-economic background.

The risk of future success, along with myriad negative impacts on teens during adolescence, signals the importance of learning about common emotional issues in teens, what to look for, and how to help.

Common emotional struggles in teens

When looking at emotional struggles in teens, it’s important to account for gender differences. Before puberty, the prevalence of emotional disorders is about the same for boys and girls and assigned female at birth at about 3-5%, but by adolescence girls and assigned female at birth are twice as likely as boys to be diagnosed with a mood disorder. This disparity has been explained by researchers as differences in the way girls and assigned female at birth process emotional stimuli in the brain. Because girls and assigned female at birth mature faster in terms of emotional recognition, this sensitivity can make them more vulnerable to depression and anxiety during adolescence than their male counterparts.

Teen girls and assigned female at birth experiencing emotional issues and disorders are most likely to be diagnosed with internalized disorders such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. These disorders are expressed within the individuals and reflect troubled emotional states. While this is the umbrella term for emotional struggles, there are many subsequent struggles within the category of internalized disorders.

Anxiety is one of the most likely emotional struggles for adolescent girls and assigned female at birth to experience. It can manifest in many different forms that can cause a range of symptoms for young women. Generalized anxiety disorder refers to the excessive anxiety and worry about daily events or activities, and the intensity, duration, and frequency of this excessive worry is out of proportion to the actual likelihood or effect of the anticipated event. Individuals struggling with generalized anxiety will find it difficult to control their worries and thoughts and are unable to prevent these thoughts from interfering with attention on given tasks.

Another type of anxiety teen could face is social anxiety disorder. This type of anxiety is marked by excessive fear or worries about participating in social situations, causing them to avoid all social activity. Teens can also experience panic disorder, which results in repeated and unexpected panic attacks. These panic attacks are brought up by an intense surge of fear and result in cognitive and physical symptoms such as pounding heart, sweating, trembling or shaking, feelings of choking, nausea, and fear of losing control.

Two other types of common anxiety disorders in teens are obsessive compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. OCD in teens can present as contamination obsessions and cleaning compulsions, repeating symmetry ordering and counting compulsions, or forbidden or taboo thoughts. PTSD can develop following childhood trauma and can result in fear-based reexperiencing of the trauma, anhedonic mood states, negative cognitions, and dissociative symptoms.

Beyond anxiety, another common type of emotional struggle in teen girls and assigned female at birth are mood disorders which include depression, bipolar disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Depression is one of the most common emotional issues teens can experience and is marked by low mood, feelings of hopelessness, a loss of interest in all activities, and increased irritation and aggression. To be diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder by a medical professional, symptoms need to persist for a period of at least two weeks.

Bipolar disorder can also occur in teens, and is categorized by distinct periods of abnormally and persistently elevated and expansive moods or irritability and persistently increased activity or energy lasting at least 4 consecutive days. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder can occur in girls and assigned female at birth starting during puberty and is the recurrence of severe changes in affect including mood, irritability, dysphoria, and anxiety during the luteal phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Lastly, adolescent females and assigned female at birth are more likely than other groups to experience eating disorders and self injury or cutting. These disorders can be born out of low self-esteem and negative self-image and may not necessarily be a direct result of depression. These measures are often taken as a dysfunctional coping mechanism to alleviate emotional pain or numbness. If you worry your child could be experiencing any of these emotional conditions, there are many warning signs you can look for.

Warning signs your teens could be experiencing emotional struggles

While each individual emotional struggle teens experience has its own set of symptoms, there are common signs of emotional and mental illness you can be on the lookout for if you worry your teen may be struggling. Common warning signs include:

– Excessive worrying or fear
– Feeling extreme lows and sadness
– Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
– Extreme mood changes including feelings of euphoria and uncontrollable highs
– Prolonged feelings of anger or irritability
– Avoiding activities or hanging out with friends
– Struggling to understand and relate to others
– Changes in sleeping or eating patterns and habits
– Changes in attitudes around sexuality
– Difficulty perceiving reality which could include delusions or hallucinations
– Inability to look inside one’s feeling and perceive changes
– Use or abuse of substances such as alcohol or drugs
– Physical pain or ailments without any obvious cause, which could include headaches, stomachaches, and ongoing aches/pains
– Thinking about or talking about self-harm or suicide
– Verbalizing fears about weight gain or concern about appearance.

If your child is exhibiting any of the mentioned symptoms, it’s important to start interventions right away. In addition to the symptoms experienced from the disorders themselves, there are also add-on effects that may cause lifelong issues, such as the study that identified potential employment deficits for those experiencing emotional issues.

Additionally, emotional issues can create negative impacts on academic and social functioning, which will not only put their beyond their peers but can exacerbate anxious and depressive symptoms. For these reasons, it’s essential to identify strategies to help your child through this tough period.

Strategies for helping your child through emotional issues

There are many things you can do as a parent to help your child work through emotional struggles, at the core of which is constantly communicating your love as teens decide how to feel about themselves largely by how their parents react to them. Try these strategies to help your child build strong emotional health:

Support building confidence and self-esteem: Help your child build up their confidence by praising their often and being specific about the praise. Tell their exactly what they does that makes you proud of their and how they contributes to the family system. Make this praise more about who they are and what they does than compliments related to their appearance.

Provide emotional support: Encourage your teens to talk with you about the various emotions they may be experiencing and provide a non-judgmental listening ear and soundboard for them so they feel understood and heard.

Provide a safe environment: Make sure your home is an environment where your child feels safe and loved. Maintain daily and weekly routines so they feel secure and confident about home being a safe space.

Teach resilience: Work with your child on how to make it through tough times. This can include teaching coping skills to manage stress and anxiety, and how to find learning opportunities in setbacks and failures.

Consider therapeutic interventions: There are many effective types of therapies known to benefit teens struggling with anxiety and depression such as cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma focused equine therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy.

If your child is struggling to work through emotional issues, Solstice RTC can provide their the safe and therapeutic space they needs to heal.

Solstice RTC can help your child through emotional struggles

Solstice RTC is one of the leading residential treatment centers for adolescents ages 14-17, and we specialize in helping teens on their journey towards healing by utilizing a unique blend of therapeutic techniques based on traditional and holistic treatment methods. 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.

We help teen students experiencing a variety of challenges related to past trauma, loss, attachment issues, depression and mood disorders, and low self-esteem. Our approach to change emphasizes student’s strengths within a therapeutic culture where acceptance, chance, and growth are supported and valued. Positive relationships characterized by emotional safety are at the crux of this process. For more information on how Solstice RTC could help, please call (866) 278-3345.