Trauma is an unfortunate reality for millions of people throughout the world, many of whom are children or adolescents. Examples of trauma may include assault, abuse, harassment, serious illness, death of a loved one, and similarly upsetting occurrences. For many of these people, the anguish, pain, and distress that occur as a result of a traumatic experience or experiences will have only a temporary impact. But in some cases, the aftereffects of trauma will be intense and/or persistent enough to cause significant impairment to the young person’s ability to function in a healthy and productive manner. When trauma causes a person to experience persistent, recurring, intrusive memories, distressing dreams, dissociative reactions, intense psychological distress, and similar symptoms, it is likely that the individual is suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
At Youth Care, we understand the unique challenges experienced by adolescents who have developed PTSD, and we have designed effective programming to address not only the PTSD but also any co-occurring issues, such as substance abuse, self-harm, or other dangerous behaviors, that the adolescent may have engaged in in a misguided attempt to self-medicate or numb himself or herself from the psychological pain. At Youth Care, adolescents receive the comprehensive care that empowers them to overcome their PTSD symptoms, regain control over their emotions and behaviors, and reengage with the world in a healthy and positive manner.
Helping Your Child Get Treatment
If your child has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, your initial response will, understandably, involve ensuring his or her immediate health and safety. But in the weeks and months to follow, it will be important for you to monitor his or her behavior for signs that may indicate the presence of PTSD. The following steps can help you to protect your child’s continued mental health in the aftermath of trauma:
- First, educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of PTSD in adolescents. Be sure to get your information from reputable and reliable sources, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or the National Center for PTSD.
- Discuss your concerns with your child’s guidance counselor, teachers, and other adults with whom he or she has regular contact, so that they can also monitor for signs and symptoms of PTSD.
- If your child is engaging in behaviors that may indicate PTSD, consult with your family doctor, local mental health services organization, or other informed sources for assistance in determining the nature of the problem.
- 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 to understand what PTSD is, discuss the steps you will be taking to get help, and reassure him or her of your continued love and support.
Also, make sure that you do not ignore your own needs. Caring for a child with PTSD is a stressful experience that can take a toll on your physical health and mental wellbeing. In addition to setting agood example for your child, practicing healthy self-care also ensures that you will have the strength and focus that will be necessary to support his or her continued recovery.
Why Consider Treatment at Youth Care
Without proper treatment, PTSD can have a significantly detrimental impact on a young person’s life, and can lead to myriad additional problems and negative outcomes. Untreated PTSD can make it virtually impossible for a young person to maintain the focus and motivation that are essential to continued academic progress, and can prompt behaviors that can lead to his or her removal from school. The withdrawal and isolation that often result from PTSD can deprive a young person of social and emotional support at a time when he or she is most vulnerable. And the psychological suffering of PTSD often prompts young people to turn to alcohol or other drugs as a means of self-medicating or simply numbing themselves. This combination of academic failure, social isolation, personal despair, and substance abuse can lead an adolescent into a devastating spiral of pain and hopelessness.
Types of Treatment Offered at Youth Care
At Youth Care, we offer residential care for the treatment of PTSD in a peaceful, structured, home-like setting. In this comfortable, therapeutic environment, adolescents are able to receive the care they need in a realistic, family-like atmosphere that is fully conducive to true and lasting healing. Providing care for youth, aged 11 to 17, we, at Youth Care, are pleased to offer individualized programming that is tailored to meet each adolescent’s unique needs and enhance their already-existing skillset. The residential program here at Youth Care is based on accountability, responsibility, and respect. A level system is used to provide constructive feedback to the students as they learn to show respect by displaying appropriate behaviors and earning privileges and increased levels of trust. This connection between accountability, responsibility, trust, and privileges is an important life lesson that can be used in our students’ future relationships and implemented as they achieve future successes. At Youth Care, we believe in honoring the adolescents who are entrusted into our care by helping them understand the choices they have and the natural consequences that can occur as a result of the choices they make. We believe that this not only helps our students learn good decision-making skills, but it also enhances the confidence they have in themselves by showing them that they are capable of making those good decisions. Throughout an adolescent’s time spent at Youth Care for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder, he or she will have the opportunity to participate in the following interventions:
Medication management: The use of certain psychotropic medications may be beneficial in helping to alleviate the symptoms that youth experience as a result of PTSD. Whether or not medication is used, however, will always be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending upon the particular needs of each adolescent. Students at Youth Care will meet with a psychiatrist once a week, and all medication management needs will be handled by the psychiatrist and Youth Care’s nursing and medical teams.
Individual therapy: Intensive individual therapy is a core component to the therapeutic process here at Youth Care. Students have the opportunity to meet with their primary therapists three times each week.Additionally, students can meet with an addictions counselor once per week if they are struggling withsubstance abuse concerns.
Group therapy: Group therapy sessions play a major role in the treatment plans of our students at Youth Care. Group sessions are held on a daily basis and are broken down as follows:
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) groups are held 1 time each week.
- Music therapy groups are held 1 time each week.
- Recreational therapy groups are held 2 times each week.
- Addictions groups are held 1 time each week.
- Process groups are held 3 times each week.
Family therapy: At Youth Care, we feel strongly that family integration is key in helping our students manage the symptoms of PTSD. Because of this, we work hard to ensure that our students’ families are heavily involved in the treatment process. Family therapy sessions are held once each week and are ledby each student’s primary therapist. Additionally, Parent Days are held every 6 to 8 weeks, offering educational seminars, multifamily group therapy, parent support groups, family therapy sessions, and family recreational activities.
Recreational therapy: When students engage in treatment for PTSD at Youth Care, they will be offered a well-rounded approach to treatment that incorporates recreational activities into their schedules. Recreational therapy is designed to help students have a successful treatment experience by achieving physical, cultural, and social accomplishments. Recreational activities also provide students with opportunities to learn such valuable skills as teamwork, problem solving, communication, and trust. Furthermore, through participation in recreational activities, students can build better social skills, communication skills, coping skills, and interpersonal skills. They may also develop newfound interests, discover unknown talents, and experience an improvement in their self-esteem. Under the guidance and supervision of our licensed recreational therapist, students participate in in-house and community recreational activities 3 to 7 times per week.
Experiential therapy: In addition to the previously mentioned therapies, students receiving care for posttraumatic stress disorder at Youth Care will have the opportunity to take part in different experiential therapies throughout the duration of their time spent in treatment. The frequency of these experiential therapies will be determined by each student’s primary therapist and may include the following:
- Expressive therapy
- Situational therapy
- Exposure therapy
Community service activities: Students will be involved in community service activities at least twice each month. We have found that having students participate in such activities affords them the opportunity to develop greater empathy and a broader understanding of others, both of which can aid in their own recovery. Examples of the community service activities that students may participate in include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Caring for animals at the Humane Society
- Visiting the elderly
- Filling shelves at the Food Bank
Academics: At Youth Care, we believe that every student deserves to achieve success in school and therefore view our academic programming as a therapeutic intervention. Our academic program is fully accredited, which allows students to earn school credits, increase their knowledge, and work towards achieving academic goals during their time at Youth Care. Students are enrolled in a full day’s curriculum, which takes place in a traditional academic setting and is led by a team of certified secondary education teachers and special education teachers who have been trained to work with students possessing a range of learning abilities. All students have academic goals and objectives included in their individualized treatment plans, and they will attend school from 9:00am to 5:00pm every weekday, with therapeutic interventions being interwoven throughout their daily schedules.
In addition to the residential treatment offered through Youth Care, we are also pleased to provide partial hospitalization programming (PHP) for students who do not require the intensity of the programming that is offered in a residential setting. This day treatment option allows youth to attendthe same daily programming as those receiving residential treatment, yet return home at night.
If your child is suffering from the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and requires a safe, structured, and encouraging environment to work towards overcoming or managing his or her symptoms, look no further than Youth Care. Our specialized programming will be catered to meet your child’s every needs so that he or she can succeed in living the full, happy, healthy, and productive life that he or she deserves to be living.