At Paradigm San Francisco, all of our teen treatment plans are designed individually, in order to meet the unique physical, mental, emotional, and relational needs. To support teens to create and sustain healthy social relationships and manage successful social dynamics, we have a teen social skills treatment program, which is incorporated into teens’ larger substance abuse and mental health treatment goals.
For many teens struggling with substance abuse and/or mental health conditions, relationships can become increasingly challenging to navigate. At the same time, many different conditions cause teens to want to withdraw and isolate themselves, fearing that they won’t be understood or accepted. Over time, not only can this isolation make teens feel more alone and overwhelmed, but can also make it grow increasingly more difficult for teens to feel comfortable and confident, in social situations.
These challenging dynamics can be frustrating for family members and loved ones of teens as well. Very often, parents, family members, and friends might be making considerable efforts to connect with the teen, but teens’ symptoms and inner struggles prevents them from being able to respond in positive, healthy ways. Sometimes, the teens’ loved ones might get frustrated by this, seeing the lack of engagement as a form of rebellion. However, often even subtle details of these social and relational interactions are deep-reaching, which is why we work with teens in their time here, to observe and address the different intricacies that are preventing real connection.
Like many aspects of our treatment program, the specific ways we incorporate the teen social skills curriculum looks different for each teen, depending on her or his specific needs. Some teens may need help overcoming strong fear of judgment, and learn to participate in general social settings again. Other teens might need to learn how to enjoy activities sober and/or talk to others, without being on substances. Regardless of the particular social struggle teens are working on, we work with teens during teen social skills treatment to help identify the specific stressors and/or triggers that exist in different relationships and dynamics, so that teens can observe what dynamics are at play. At the same time, teen social skills treatment also works to identify practical, tangible efforts they can practice on a daily basis, in order to gradually make positive changes in their relationships with others. These practices can be incorporated into just about all of teens’ different therapeutic groups and settings, including their family groups, school and class time, peer groups, recreational activities, meal times, and more. What we’ve seen is that by implementing these intentional, individualized measures to support teens in this way, teens are able to leave Paradigm San Francisco more ready and prepared to sustain positive, healthy relationships, moving forward.