In many ways, adolescence is the most dynamic time of a person’s life, characterized by enormous growth, development, and change. From the process of self-discovery to hormonal fluctuations to the process of establishing independence, there are many changes through these years. While it’s normal and healthy for this time of life to entail some challenges, sometimes other emotional challenges can be triggered to emerge, such as mood disorders.
The Emotional Health aspect of Paradigm San Francisco treatment is built to ensure that all of teens’ emotional needs are met during their time in treatment. While we work with teens to make practical, positive changes in their lives, we also understand that some of the healing and growth that needs to occur is solely on an emotional level. To this end, we offer numerous different types of therapy and resources, which address teens’ unique needs. Below is a list of some of the emotional health interventions we incorporate into every teen’s uniquely designed Paradigm San Francisco treatment plan:
When admitted to Paradigm San Francisco, every youth is given a thorough diagnostic interview, including a complete psychiatric evaluation. These evaluations are conducted by our Medical Director, who is a Board Certified Adolescent Psychiatrist. Depending on the teen’s specific needs and the complexity of present factors, the evaluation process may range between a few hours and a few days. It’s worth noting that we allow for this flexible time period, in part because we firmly believe that this initial interview process is extremely important in making sure that the youth’s treatment plan address all different pertinent factors. For instance, some of the different subjects the psychiatrist will address with teens include things such as: family health and psychiatric history, medication history, childhood development, peer and family relationships, current physical health ailments and health history, school experience, and more.
Our psychiatrist will use all of this information to create treatment recommendations that address the complete picture of teens’ physiological, biological, and social needs. We believe one fundamental aspect of our treatment success is that the treatment plans are designed in accordance to teens’ histories, strengths, interests, and relationships, as much as their outward symptoms. This complete evaluation will become one instrumental part in designing teens’ larger treatment plan here at Paradigm San Francisco.
Upon admittance to Paradigm, teens will also undergo a comprehensive psychological evaluation by our licensed psychologist. As part of the larger admittance and treatment design process, this evaluation usually takes place within 48 hours of teens’ arrival, and may include visual, written, and/or written parts, in order to assess the teens’ emotional and cognitive functioning. This information will be used in conjunction with the psychiatric evaluation, as well as the ongoing notes and assessments of the teens’ lead therapists and treatment team, both preceding and throughout treatment.
One of the staples of Paradigm San Francisco treatment is all teens receive individual therapy sessions every day. We believe that there’s simply no substitute for this consistent individual time, which allows therapists to help teens to stay actively and intensively engaged in their treatment, every single day while they’re here with us. Notably, this is one thing that sets Paradigm San Francisco apart from the rest, as we are the only teen treatment facility that provides daily individual sessions. Furthermore, all individual therapy sessions are conducted by credentialed mental health professionals, who are deeply engaged with working with teens to help them identify, process, and make meaningful, lasting changes in their lives. While we also strongly value and incorporate numerous types of group therapy in our treatment programs, it’s our individual therapy program that we believe is paramount to teens’ ongoing success, here at Paradigm.
Group Therapy sessions provide an imperative, powerful aspect of our Paradigm San Francisco treatment plans. What we’ve learned over the years working with youth, is there’s great value in using peer interaction and support, as an aspect of encouraging and supporting teens to meaningful recovery and healing. During adolescence, the influence that teens have on one another is powerful, and therefore, we respect this connection and include it as a valuable opportunity to help teens to work together and support each other. To this end, we incorporate numerous different group therapy sessions and therapeutic programs, including process-oriented, didactic, and experiential work. As we continue to work with teens in mental health and substance abuse treatment, we’re constantly inspired and encouraged by the way teens stand with each other and offer support, helping each other toward their goals.
At Paradigm San Francisco, we understand and deeply respect that one of the unique aspects of adolescent treatment is that it is a whole-family experience. When a teen is struggling with a mental health or substance abuse disorder, the entire family is affected. Decision making, processing, and questions abound for everyone involved and often parents feel significant stress, as they seek to help their youth. This is why we incorporate family therapy sessions as an integral part of our treatment programs, in both individual family therapy and multi-family group therapy sessions.
In our individual family sessions, our therapists work with family members to help create a safe, supportive environment where teens can share what they’re working on in treatment, and also, where family members address their experience, as well. Our Multi-Family therapy groups are also an incredibly powerful time for parents and family members to hear and share with other families that are working through similar things. Often we find that these larger multi-family groups provide an incredible source of comfort and community for families of teens that are here with us at Paradigm San Francisco.
Though the majority of our family therapy sessions are conducted in-person, we’re always happy to accommodate sessions via Skype, in instances where family members are unable to attend in person.
As part of our commitment to designing treatment plans that uniquely and precisely meet all teens’ needs, we offer an extensive selection of therapeutic groups and sessions. One of the programs we’re most proud of and which teens tend to vastly enjoy is our Equine Therapy program. Equine Therapy is an evidenced based therapeutic option based upon teens working with horses, and has been proven to be an extremely helpful therapeutic tool for teens in treatment for substance abuse and/or mental health conditions. Research shows that Equine Therapy is especially helpful in teens struggling with depression, self-injury disorders, grief, PTSD, anxiety, ADD, and numerous behavioral health conditions. Equine Therapy is at once very powerful and yet, a subtle treatment in process, as teens are moved to open up, soften, and reflect in meaningful ways, simply by their led interaction with the horses. Because the horses are a non-judgmental “audience” for teens, they provide a context in which teens can comfortably and organically reflect upon their interpersonal skills, their attitudes and feelings, their stress, their relationship patterns, and more.
Expressive Arts Therapies
At Paradigm San Francisco, we’re proud to offer more Expressive Arts therapies than any other teen treatment center in the country. Expressive Arts therapies consist of a number of alternative methods of expression which allow teens to process their emotional experiences, gain new perspectives, and practice and observe communication. This therapeutic work takes place in a number of different creative contexts, including but not limited to: Drama Therapy, Biblio Therapy, Writing Therapy, Dance Therapy, Art Therapy, and Music Therapy. In a word, the way the Expressive Arts therapies work is through the led artistic process, teen are able to more organically and comfortably engage thoughts and feelings which might otherwise be difficult to recognize and/or articulate. As a result, teens are often able to process and re-experience difficult emotional terrain which becomes accessible through this creative process. These valuable discoveries and insights can then be implemented within teens’ greater treatment work.
Our Art Therapy program at Paradigm San Francisco is consistently one of teens’ favorite therapeutic offerings. One of the great things about Art Therapy is that there is absolutely no pressure, judgement, or scale about how or what teens need to create. In the purest sense, art therapy values the experience of creating art and not the outcome. Because of this, Art Therapy is often enjoyed by all youth here at Paradigm, including those that may have had negative past experiences in art classes or groups where they may have felt judged. Beyond enjoying the experience, Art Therapy sessions are incredibly valuable to assist teens in accessing important mental and emotional space, which can help them to process an array of different therapeutic aspects, including their interpersonal skills, communication, impulses, their sense of self, their insight into themselves, and their confidence.
In addition to teens creating art themselves, Art Therapy sessions might also incorporate discussions and reflections on art, which allows the sessions to integrate visual art, creative processes, and visual art into creative aspects of psychotherapy. Extensive research has proven Art Therapy to be a valuable tool in teen treatment of neurological problems, psychosocial challenges, trauma, cognitive therapy, physical ailments, substance abuse and addition, relational issues, and emotional struggles.
Our Drama Therapy program at Paradigm San Francisco is a group-oriented therapeutic session, which uses imagined narratives and contexts, in order to help teens to process their own individual, social, and family struggles and dynamics. While the drama therapist creates the setting of the narrative which teens will play out, the stories are organically determined by the youth in real time, which creates incredible opportunities for teens to process things they’re facing in their own lives, such as difficult relationships, communication styles, and/or behaviors. Additionally, because there is a certain amount of distance and “anonymity” in the drama therapy being fictional, teens sometimes find more access to particular feelings and conflicts which otherwise have remained hidden. Within this dynamic therapy realm, the drama therapist works as both artist and clinician, to help create the greatest therapeutic opportunities through the artistic expression. Drama Therapy tends to be especially valuable for teens processing past experiences, such as traumatic events, which may otherwise be difficult to speak about, in a more direct setting.
Music Therapy is a therapeutic modality in which therapists use music interventions to help teens reach specific treatment goals. As with other Expressive Arts therapies, one of the great benefits of Music Therapy is many teens’ deep connection and enjoyment of music allows them to more easily tap into a deeper space of emotional and mental accessibility, to both process and express what they’re experiencing. When used in combination with more traditional talk therapy methods, Music Therapy can help teens to process and communicate aspects of their experience that they might be unable to access in more direct conversation. In Music Therapy sessions, the therapists will use different dynamic exercises (such as music listening, music writing, music performance, and improvisation) based on teen’s specific needs and goals, in treatment. At the same time, the music therapists also coordinate with the teens’ other treatment team members, in order to continue assessing and responding to teens’ process.
Biblio Therapy is a therapeutic modality that incorporates reading and literature as a treatment tool. Biblio Therapy is implemented with teens that have a natural love of reading and tend to gain great insight, inspiration, and understanding through reading. For these teens, Biblio Therapy can be a powerful tool, as the therapists use reading and literature-interaction in order to help teens reflect upon their own current experiences. For some teens that already naturally empathize and are deeply affected by characters in stories, this can be a natural tool to help them gain a certain insight and perspective into their own stories, and who they are as “characters.” In this sense, Biblio Therapy is a quite natural progression from the power of stories which have greatly affected people throughout history, and serves to help expand the mental and emotional worlds of teens who might currently feel stuck, in their own lives. In addition to numerous mental health and substance abuse conditions, Biblio Therapy can be especially useful in helping teens that are struggling with low self-esteem and/or sense of identity.
Similar to the story-based strategy of Biblio Therapy, Cinema Therapy is a therapeutic modality which uses movies as therapeutic tools, during teen treatment. As all of us know, movies are extremely powerful art form and can often bring us to laugh, to cry, to feel, to think, and to be inspired. By harnessing this artistic power within the therapeutic context, movies can also be used to assist teens in reflecting upon, engaging with, and motivating in their own struggles and lives. By working with films as stories, therapists can use them to help teens to learn, both about themselves, others, the world they live in, relationships, and more. And furthermore, films can help to unlock knowledge, insight, and inspiration which teens can draw upon, in initiating powerful changes in their own lives.
For many teens, writing can be an insightful, calming practice that helps them to sort their thoughts, express themselves, and figure out what they’re feeling. For teens that already enjoy writing, we utilize Written Therapy as a modality in the teens’ larger treatment program. Writing Therapy has been shown to be especially effective as a treatment modality for teens struggling with addiction, trauma, depression, and/or grief.
During Writing Therapy sessions, therapists design writing exercises that involve teens both processing and creating the written word, as a way of helping teens to gain access to particular feelings, thoughts, and experiences related to their current treatment. The type of writing assignment may vary, such as writing poetry, journaling, or writing stories, and may be done in both individual and group settings. One of the overreaching powerful opportunities of Writing Therapy is it helps teens to reflect upon their own lives as stories and view themselves as the author, with the power to “write” or make meaningful, life-changing decisions, during this important time in their lives, here at Paradigm.
Animal Assisted Therapy
At Paradigm San Francisco, we incorporate Animal Assisted Therapy (or AAT) as one recovery tool in our treatment plans for adolescents. Animal Assisted Therapy is a therapeutic tool that essentially uses the natural connection, openness, and relatability with animals, as a tool to help teens to open to themselves, and to increase the teens’ overall cognitive and emotional functioning. Research has shown Animal Assisted Therapy to be a helpful tool in a number of different therapeutic contexts, including addiction, depression, anxiety, trauma, and more. AAT is also often very helpful for teens that struggle with social interaction and/or relationships, and can be used to help teens who feel alone to gain a sense of connection, especially during this challenging time. At Paradigm San Francisco, all of our AAT sessions are provided by a Certified Animal Assisted Therapy Specialist.