Obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is also commonly referred to as OCD, is a mental health disorder with symptoms that include persistent and recurring thoughts, urges, images, and/or behaviors. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, OCD symptoms often first arise during adolescence, with as many as 1 in 200 young people struggling with compulsions such as repeated hand washing, silently counting or repeating words, checking and rechecking something over and over, and other ritualistic behaviors or mental tasks. In addition to having their lives disrupted by behaviors that they are incapable of controlling, adolescents who struggle with OCD must also often deal with the shame and embarrassment of being different or “strange” at a time when the desire to fit in can be at its most intense.
During the more than 25 years that Youth Care has served young people and families in crisis, we have developed a unique understanding of the impact of OCD and have designed sophisticated programming that has proven to be quite effective at helping adolescents overcome their symptoms, regain control over their behaviors, and resume their pursuit of healthier and more satisfying futures.
Helping Your Child Get Treatment
Watching your child struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder can be an excruciating experience. Thankfully, there are several steps that a parent can take to help their child overcome this disorder:
- The first step to finding a solution to this problem is to educate yourself about OCD. As you gain greater understanding of what your adolescent is experiencing, you will be able to show greater empathy and be a source of meaningful support.
- Research the types of treatment that have helped other adolescents who were experiencing similar struggles, and identify programs that provide the type and level of support that seems best suited to your child’s unique needs.
- Talk to your child, and listen to what he or she has to say. Help him or her understand that OCD does not define who he or she is. Discuss the steps you will be taking to get help, answer his or her questions as best you can, and reassure him or her of your continued love and support.
Also, make sure that you do not ignore your own needs. The stress of caring for a child with OCD can take a toll on both your physical health and mental wellbeing. In addition to setting a good example for your child, practicing healthy self-care also ensures that you will have the strength and focus that will be necessary for providing the support that will be essential to his or her continued recovery.
Why Consider Treatment at Youth Care
For an adolescent, life with OCD can be devastating. The anxiety and emotional pain of uncontrollable obsessions and behavioral compulsions can significantly impair a young person’s efforts to live a productive and satisfying life and prepare for a healthy transition into adulthood. OCD can derail academic progress, undermine the effort to form and maintain friendships, and significantly impair the afflicted individual’s confidence and self-esteem. Adolescence is a crucial time of discovering one’s innate strengths and talents, and taking the initial steps toward defining one’s individuality and sense of self. When these efforts are impacted by the stress and pain of obsessive-compulsive disorder, the negative impact can reverberate for years or even decades. Young people who fail to get the help that they need for their OCD are also at increased risk for turning to alcohol or other drugs in a misguided attempt to self-medicate their psychological pain. Of course, this decision will only exacerbate the problems that the adolescent is experiencing, and will complicate the effort to find an effective solution for the OCD. Untreated OCD is also associated with self-harm, sleep disruptions, depression, aggression, suicidal ideation, and a host of additional dangers. Fortunately, OCD is also a treatable disorder, and adolescents can often experience significant improvements to their quality of life with comprehensive and compassionate treatment.
Types of Treatment Offered at Youth Care
Youth Care offers residential treatment for adolescents, aged 11 to 17, who are battling the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Here at Youth Care, we are dedicated to providing treatment in a structured, home-like setting that offers a family-like atmosphere for adolescents as they work towards recovering from the concerns that plague them. By implementing individualized programming that is tailored to meet each adolescent’s unique needs, the treatment delivered at Youth Care is comprehensive and is designed to promote true and lasting healing.
The residential program here at Youth Care is founded on the principles of respect, accountability, and responsibility. Our staff uses a level system with students so that they can provide constructive feedback as students learn how to demonstrate respect and behave in appropriate ways. In doing so, students earn various privileges and increased levels of trust. We believe that the connection between privileges, accountability, trust, and responsibility is an invaluable lesson that will serve to benefit our students for the rest of their lives.
When adolescents are entrusted into our care for the treatment of OCD, they will be provided with various therapeutic interventions, which may include the following:
Medication management: When treating the symptoms of OCD, there are times when certain psychotropic medications may be implemented that could serve as a beneficial means of alleviating the distress that an adolescent is experiencing. The use of any medication, however, is always determined on a student-by-student basis, depending on each youth’s individual circumstances. Meetings with a psychiatrist occur on a weekly basis, and Youth Care’s nursing and medical teams will assist in handling all medication management needs.
Individual therapy: The use of individual therapy is a very important aspect of the treatment offered at Youth Care. Students will meet with their primary therapists three times every week and can also meet with an addictions counselor once each week if they are struggling with substance abuse and addiction.
Group therapy: At Youth Care, the use of group therapy is a major component of our students’ overall treatment plans. Various group sessions are held on a daily basis and can play an instrumental role in helping our students learn to manage the symptoms of OCD. The different types of groups that are offered as part of programming include the following:
- Recreational therapy groups
- Dialectical behavior therapy groups
- Process groups
- Addictions groups
- Music therapy groups
Family therapy: The role of our students’ families is crucial in helping them recover from or learn how to manage the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Keeping this in mind, we, at Youth Care, are dedicated to ensuring that the family members of our students are actively involved in the therapeutic process. The primary therapist for each student will conduct family therapy sessions once each week, and Parent Days are held every 6 to 8 weeks. Parent Days include a variety of therapeutic activities, including multifamily group therapy, parent support groups, family recreational activities, family therapy sessions, and educational seminars.
Recreational therapy: Recreational therapy plays another integral role in the therapeutic experience at Youth Care. Throughout our years of experience, we have found that participation in recreational activities gives adolescents a valuable opportunity to learn important life skills, including problem solving, communication, teamwork, and trust. Additionally, we have found that recreational therapy can enhance the self-esteem of our students as they develop new interests and discover talents that they did not previously know they possessed. Participating in these recreational activities also aids in enriching other types of skillsets as well, including coping skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, and social skills. Our licensed recreational therapist guides and supervises students as they participate in both community and in-house recreational activities 3 to 7 times each week.
Experiential therapy: Students who are receiving treatment for OCD may also participate in various experiential therapies throughout the duration of their time spent at Youth Care. Examples of the experiential options that students may engage in include situational therapy, expressive therapy, and exposure therapy. Their primary therapists will work with them to determine when these therapies may be most appropriately implemented.
Community service activities: Participation in community service activities occurs at least twice every month for students at Youth Care. They will have the opportunity to take part in various types of activities, which may include visiting the elderly, caring for animals at the Humane Society, and filling shelves at the Food Bank. These experiences allow students to develop a sense of empathy towards and an understanding of others. This, in turn, can aid them as they, themselves, continue to grow and progress in their treatment.
Academics: Knowing how important education is, Youth Care has a fully accredited academic program that meets from 9:00am to 5:00pm each weekday. This program allows students to receive all of the benefits of a traditional education while also having therapeutic interventions included in their daily schedules. The curriculum is led by special education teachers and secondary education teachers, all of whom have experience with and have been trained in working with youth who have varying learning abilities. When adolescents receive treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder at Youth Care, they will not have to worry about falling behind academically because they will be able to earn school credits and achieve any academic goals they have, including graduating high school.
In addition to the treatment that is offered through our residential programming here at Youth Care, we are also pleased to offer partial hospitalization programming (PHP) for students suffering from the symptoms of OCD. This option for day treatment allows adolescents to experience the same type of daily programming that students in the residential program receive, while being able to return home at the end of the day.
If your child is battling the symptoms of OCD and is in need of comprehensive treatment that will be tailored to meet his or her specific needs, look no further than Youth Care. Our caring and compassionate staff will dedicate themselves to ensuring that your child develops the skills necessary to successfully overcome the struggles that are plaguing him or her and move forward towards the bright and happy future that he or she deserves.