Trauma Treatment Center for Teens

According to the National Center for PTSD, 15% to 43% of girls and 14% to 43% of boys will experience a traumatic event. Of those young girls and boys who have experienced trauma, 3% to 15% of girls and 1%-6% of boys develop PTSD. As many as 30-60% of teens and children who have survived specific traumas develop PTSD.

While stressful life events are not uncommon, the impact of traumatic stress depends on the individual, their developmental stage, and the social resources that they have. Teens are particularly vulnerable to the effects of trauma, as they often do not have the skills to integrate their experience as a part of their story and to continue to pursue their goals. Teens who have experienced trauma often don’t know what to do next and begin to feel hopeless about the future. This is where a trauma treatment center for teens can help them regain confidence and plan for future success.

This guide is meant to be comprehensive, but as such, not every section will be applicable to everyone. Instead, we invite you to click on the links in the table of contents to jump to the sections that most interest you.

Why Choose a Trauma Treatment Center for Teens?

Many individuals with PTSD often go undiagnosed and do not receive treatment. For many teens, they try to bury their reaction and move on, with symptoms appearing weeks or months later, which makes it harder for them to understand the connection between the traumatic event and their way of coping with it. Early intervention after a traumatic event can help teenagers begin the healing process and learn healthier coping mechanisms.

At Elevations RTC, we create an environment that promotes the healing process. The main goal of our program is to help teens develop an understanding that there are solutions to the struggles that complicate their lives. Our program is based around a peer culture model that encourages our students to support each other throughout the program. Informing them about PTSD and other struggles helps create this supportive environment.

What are Signs that My Teen May Have Experienced Trauma?

The impact of a traumatic experience will impact a teen in a very individualized way to differing degrees of severity and is influenced by resources available to support them and their stage of emotional development.

Trauma impairs the nervous system’s ability to interpret accurate ‘life threatening danger,’ so one’s brain tends to communicate this danger when an actual threat is not present. This information helps teens gain awareness to assess their “window of tolerance” and whether their nervous system is in ‘hyperarousal’ or ‘hypoarousal’ in the moment. When teens learn that the symptoms they are experiencing may be related to trauma, they are better able to implement strategies to bring their nervous system back to baseline.

Short term symptoms may include:

  • Separation problems
  • Fixation on the event
  • Decrease in initiative or confidence
  • Changes in thinking or learning
  • Emotional or behavioral changes
  • Nightmares

Longer term symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Self-harm
  • Decline in school performance
  • Anger
  • Social isolation
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Substance use

Attachment Issues Related to Childhood Trauma

When detecting potential insecure attachments among students, we acknowledge that developmental trauma can have just as much of an impact on attachment as the inability to form a bond with the primary caregiver. The attachment process may have been disrupted by life experiences such as birth trauma, medical issues, divorce, death of a parent, or abuse by a trusted relative or friend.

The therapeutic process is complex, as is the impact of those life experiences. Relationships heal relational trauma. Trust and safety in the therapeutic relationship is foundational to the healing process.

How Does Elevations RTC  Help Teens with Trauma?

Elevations RTC is a relationship-based program for teens of all genders that helps teens explore how their beliefs about relationships have been shaped by traumatic experiences, including their relationships with their family, their peers, and even themselves.

It is difficult to state which therapeutic approach is utilized for or most effective in treating PTSD as each therapist on the team has a slightly different mix of therapeutic style and approach that may incorporate a number of evidence-based approaches used in trauma treatment.  The approach is often determined by the client and their individual needs.

For example, EMDR is often utilized when treating trauma but not all clients will engage effectively in EMDR and so the therapist may utilize a Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) approach or may choose to use a narrative approach such as Integrated Treatment of Complex Trauma (ITCT).

In addition to traditional forms of talk therapy, Elevations incorporates experiential therapies to help teens improve their mind-body connection and to actively participate in fun social activities that help them shift those negative beliefs about relationships.

We can help your child heal. Get in touch today.

Treatments for PTSD in Teens

Some of the strategies we offer at Elevations RTC include:

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR techniques help students break down walls of resistance and allow them to feel vulnerable and open. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. The insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes— without speaking in detail or doing homework assignments.
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This helps teens learn stress management and relaxation skills to cope with unpleasant feelings. Cognitive Behavioral Therapies also help correct distorted ideas of what happened and why because so many of these kids feel like it was their fault.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: Learning DBT Skills helps teens gain coping strategies to manage emotions and stressors, particularly related to mindfulness and interpersonal effectiveness.
  • Somatic Experiencing: These strategies help students to slow down hyper-arousal of their nervous system and stay present with what they are experiencing emotionally. Sometimes, somatic experiencing is used while processing a difficult event, but it can also be the primary focus of a therapy session.