At Paradigm San Francisco, we recognize that Teen Substance Abuse and Mental Health treatment is a challenging time in many different ways. One of the biggest demands of teens and family members during this time is addressing the emotional challenges and struggles present, as teens have to explore, identify, and communicate their emotions. While some teens are naturally more adept to this process than others, it can be difficult for all teens and yet also integral to the treatment process. Therefore, in order to help educate, prepare, and support teens to do this important emotional exploration, we provide a Teen Emotional Management course, available to all teens at Paradigm.
In working with adolescents in treatment, it’s fairly common for teens to have experience symptoms of an illness for a prolonged amount of time, and yet have spent very little time actually trying to tap into and identify what they’re feeling. It’s also common for teens to withdraw in order to cope with and avoid their symptoms, which makes it even more challenging, once they engage in a process of communicating their experience with others.
We find that by helping teens to learn basic processes, strategies, and processes of the therapeutic and recovery process, we can help them to more easily and quickly engage in this work, in a meaningful way. One important aspect of this is simply reminding teens that isolation very often contributes to aggravated symptoms, negative/unhealthy thought patterns, and false belief systems. Therefore, though might feel like they’ve been successfully avoiding their illness and its symptoms, they’ve in fact likely been making it worse. In this sense, when teens can recognize that if they want to get healthy, they have to begin speaking openly and honestly about themselves, tremendous progress and healing can take place, in therapy sessions.
This process, of teens preparing to open up and begin sharing, can also be extremely helpful and healing in their relationships. Because of the fear-motivated tunnel vision teens can get when they’re isolating themselves, they can become defensive and resistant toward their loved ones, who are trying to talk and help. This can be very frustrating and discouraging for parents, who are worried about the teens. However, when teens are able to recognize that their aloneness has not only hurt themselves but their loved ones, they will be better able to make authentic efforts in individual and family therapy sessions. This in turn not only supports teens’ overall time in treatment but also benefits the health of the family environment and ensuring teens’ lasting recovery.
While we recognize that the Emotional Management education and work can be challenging at times, our team of therapists at Paradigm San Francisco is extremely skilled in supporting teens and family members, through this important work. And furthermore, we believe that this work not only translates to more meaningful, successful treatment, but also to practical reflection and communication skills which will prove valuable teens throughout their entire lives.