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. Trauma treatment centers for teens understand how teens are uniquely affected by trauma and use developmentally appropriate strategies to help teens build resilience.

Is Trauma Treatment Appropriate for Teens?

Many parents have concerns about finding trauma treatment for their child that will not expose them to more information than they are emotionally able to handle. While they believe it would be powerful for their child to feel comfortable opening up in a group setting, they also want to protect their child’s worldview and help them see that there is good in the world. Trauma treatment for teens offers age-appropriate psychoeducation and monitors the group dynamic to ensure that it is a safe space for all individuals involved. This includes focusing on the bigger themes of traumatic experiences rather than the details of events.

At Elevations RTC, we create an environment that promotes the healing process for teens. 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. 

As a gender-inclusive program, Elevations teaches teens that relational trauma happens to people of all genders and sexualities and focuses on helping teens develop healthier relationships. Informing them about PTSD and other struggles helps create this supportive environment. 

How Does Trauma Affect Teens?

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

Teens are in a unique developmental phase, where they are exposed to a lot of stressful life transitions but haven’t yet developed the skills to cope with this stress. As a result, a teenager is more vulnerable to developing PTSD than an older adult who has witnessed or experienced similar situations but has had experience in managing this stress-either personally or by helping others. Teens who have experienced trauma are more likely to feel alone and helpless.

Evidence-Based Therapies for Teens with Trauma

  • 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.

Elevations RTC Can Help 

Elevations RTC is a one of the leading trauma treatment centers for adolescents ages 13-18 that are struggling with trauma, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. We offer a multidisciplinary approach and provide college-preparatory academics, therapeutic recreation activities, and individual, family and group psychotherapy. Our goal is to teach students positive coping skills, communication skills, and self-care practices to help them manage symptoms of depression when stressors arise. Elevations gives students the tools they need to lead healthy, happy lives.

For more information about our trauma treatment at Elevations RTC, please call .

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