As the mental health and treatment science continues to progress, research continues to lead us toward treating people as whole beings, with interconnected minds, bodies, and spirits. Where earlier perspectives and treatment modalities implied divisions of the mental, physical, and spiritual realms, the most successful mental health treatment today is that which effectively considers and treats all aspects of teens’ lives at once. With this holistic perspective in mind, we design all teen treatment plans at Paradigm San Francisco individually, in accordance with our assessment of teens’ physical, mental, and relational well-being. To this end, we offer the largest selection of therapeutic modalities of any program in the nation, including Teen Somatic Experiencing Therapy, which is one of our Alternative Therapy programs.
Teen Somatic Experiencing Therapy is a treatment method that was originally designed to treat chronic stress and/or trauma, but now is used to treat a wider variety of mental health conditions. Teen Somatic Experiencing is considered a “psychobiological method” of therapy, in that it is based on the direct connections between the body and its effects on the mind.
In case of chronic stress and/or trauma, the brain is triggered by adrenaline into a “Flight or Fright mode,” which has numerous physical, mental, and emotional effects. Notably, this state is only meant to be triggered occasionally and for short periods of time (for example, when a person is running to escape danger and needs maximum physical power and strength.) However, within experiences of trauma or chronic stress, this adrenaline rush continues to trigger the flight or fright cycle, which floods the body repeatedly, causing a cause-and-effect wave of hormonal fluctuations and consequent physical and mental effects. Because the system isn’t meant to operate at this frequency, negative effects such as hormonal imbalances can occur, which can lead to a wide range of negative symptoms, including things such as: high blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, thyroid issues, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and more.
Sometimes, when teens have experienced chronic stress or some form of trauma, they can get “caught” in this flight or fright state, which prohibits their bodies and minds from being able to recover and heal, naturally. Teen Somatic Experiencing therapy stems from the premise that the body and mind will recover naturally, if there is nothing prohibiting them from doing so. Therefore, Teen Somatic Experiencing seeks to identify and release any “blockages” teens might have, which are preventing the flight or fright cycle from subsisting.
The Teen Somatic Experiencing process involves a non-invasive, gentle treatment that gradually provides teens with lightly uncomfortable sensations, while discussing difficult subject matter which might involve hidden or suppressed emotions, with their therapists. As teens work through the negative sensations (or low levels of stress,) currently being connected with the difficult subject matter, they gradually learn to neutralize their stress and calm themselves. This in effect translates to teens learning to unblock these automatic connections between the trauma and the body, as the teens’ nervous systems begin to calm and they can leave the flight or fright state. While Teen Somatic Experiencing is especially useful for conditions such as trauma and Teen PTSD, we also incorporate it for teens suffering from any prolonged stress. We offer Teen Somatic Experiencing at Paradigm San Francisco in conjunction with our other treatment offerings, including daily individual and peer group therapy sessions.