Treating Adopted Teens

Adopted Teens | Paradigm San Francisco

Paradigm San Francisco is committed to maintaining sensitivity to the particular needs and challenges of teens from diverse backgrounds, and teens who come to us with different experiences and/or circumstances. All pertinent background details are always carefully considered within treatment design, in order to ensure that teens are receiving the most holistic, precise treatment possible. For adopted teens, we provide special support for any aspects of the adoption experience which may be contributing to their current struggles with mental health and/or substance abuse conditions.

In designing treatment, first and foremost, we are committed to considering each teen and her or his experiences on a case by case basis, as we know each teen is different. With that said, research has shown that adopted teens may have higher likelihood of struggles such as mental illnesses, substance abuse issues, and/or trouble in school. These numbers related to mental illness are believed to be connected with genetics and/or social settings. For instance, parents that give children up for adoption may have a higher rate of chronic stress and/or psychiatric conditions. Moreover, since genetics are a main factor in mental illness, this could result in higher rates of these conditions in the adopted teens as well. The other pertinent factor is environmental, in so much as adopted teens can sometimes have difficulty understanding their place in an environment and/or adjusting within social situations, such as school or even in the family unit.

Another factor that can sometimes affect adopted teens are early childhood experiences, such as the situations from which they were adopted. These early experiences can affect brain development, so if there were factors such as neglect or unhealthy environments, these things can affect teens down the road.

Adopted Teens & Family Support

At Paradigm San Francisco, we’re aware of the unique ways different life experiences can affect adopted teens and therefore pay careful attention to the underlying factors that may be at play in teens’ lives. During individual and group therapy sessions, our therapists take special note of particular aspects of their adoption which may unconsciously be affecting their current experiences and struggles. Often, there might be correlations which teens are completely unconscious of, but which can have tremendous effects on their daily lives. When therapists help teens to process and address these issues, the results can be profound relief and growth, in numerous areas of the teens’ lives. This work with therapists might include things such as restructuring false belief systems, recognizing particular triggers or stressors in their lives, reforming ways of communicating with their parents, and becoming conscious of their process of understanding and forming identity.

Our therapists also provide special support to parents of adopted teens. This support includes programs such as our Parent Coaching and Parent Effectiveness Training, as well as Family Day and weekly family therapy sessions. By incorporating relevant aspects of the teen’s adoption into therapy sessions, the therapist can provide important support for both teens and parents to learn how to better address and support each other. Therapists can also help parents to recognize ways to structure support at home, ways to communicate with teens about certain issues, and ways to respect teens’ process and journey. What we find is that by supporting the whole family of the adopted teens, teens are able to engage more deeply in their greater treatment, and parents are better able to support their teens, both during treatment and beyond.