Answers to commonly asked questions can be found below.
There is no single answer to this question because every adolescent is unique and each family differs. One key red flag to keep an eye out for is if your teen is unable to be an active participant in his or her life. Is your child able to attend school, socialize, and partake in extra-curricular activities that bring them joy? If the answer is no, then it may be beneficial to seek treatment for your teenager. We frequently speak to parents, for example, who describe a situation where their child is a talented musician or artist, but as they struggle emotionally they stop participating in the activity that they enjoy and excel in. There is no harm in asking questions and requesting guidance if you are concerned about your child’s behaviors. Our admissions team is available 24/7 to discuss your family’s situation in more detail to see if residential placement is appropriate.
We are generally conservative with the use of medication. While medication can be a helpful tool, and in some cases necessary, it is never our first resort to treatment. It is imperative to keep in mind that adolescents are still developing physically, mentally, and emotionally. Therefore, we operate under the ideology that unless there is a strong reason and purpose behind it, we will avoid adding a substance when possible.
Upon admission, our board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist will conduct a full psychiatric evaluation of the client. After meeting with the client and upon the completion of the psychiatric evaluation, our psychiatrist will contact the parents and with their permission, reach out to any psychiatrist that the family had previously been working with. This is done for the purpose of consulting and the potential for continued work with the client and at-home psychiatrist in an outpatient capacity. Before making any conclusions, or taking any action our psychiatrist is careful to obtain all the facts from any relevant source.
At Pacific Teen Treatment, medication management is specific to each person and family. It is not uncommon for clients to enter our program with a previously prescribed medication regimen, and/ or for clients to have tried certain medications in the past. If our psychiatrist deems that an alteration in a teen’s medication may be beneficial, we will reach out to the family to discuss the option in detail. We will always get parental approval before administering any medication. Additionally, we find it essential for the client to understand why they are taking a certain medication, as well as how it works and what it does. We frequently are met with teens, that have been prescribed medications that they have no understanding of nor awareness of purpose. At Pacific Teen Treatment, we make sure to educate our clients on all aspects of the medication or medications they are taking.
No. We strongly feel that treatment is not a punishment. Even though using point or level based system has been a highly relied upon system when it comes to adolescent treatment but are primarily used to address behavioral and conduct disorders, while the clients we treat struggle primarily with mental and emotional health issues. We strive to have the teens in our program to be wholly focused on their recovery by connecting their treatment to making positive changes in their behaviors, not about making positive changes to earn rewards. We do not feel it is appropriate that our clients need to earn basic privileges.
Furthermore, the young people we work with are highly intelligent individuals. More often than not, using a point or level based system would result in their easy ability to manipulate the system. Teens would participate in various aspects of their treatment program as a means to appease the staff and obtain points, rather than working towards their goal of bettering themselves.
At Pacific Teen Treatment, recovery is about learning the intrinsic ability to adjust one’s negative coping mechanisms, while strengthening one’s perception of self and raising one’s self-confidence. Hence, we find that a point or level based reward system to be counter-productive. Additionally, a point or level based system does not properly prepare our young people for the real world.
Even without the point system, we do integrate personal accountability for each of our clients. We require our clients to clean up after themselves (i.e. cleaning their rooms, washing their own laundry, loading the dishwasher after meals…etc.). We value the importance of each of the roles in our program. Equal respect is given to everyone, regardless of whether you are a client, a therapist, a doctor, or one of the program founders.
Pacific Teen Treatment offers an average length of stay ranging between thirty to sixty days, this is considered to be a shorter-term care option for teenagers. The majority of residential adolescent treatment programs are based off of a long-term care model. The typical duration of a long-term care treatment program is between three to six months, and in some cases longer. While each young person is different and may need a long-term care option, it is essential to keep in mind that an incredible amount of growth occurs in one’s adolescence. Removing a teen from his or her home for over three months can result in its own set of challenges. Furthermore, many long-term care models do not necessarily utilize an intensive treatment method. Many engage in individual therapy only once a week and group therapy a few times a week.
At Pacific Teen Treatment, our program method is different, in that we offer extensive, daily therapy for each of our clients. We do individual therapy every day as well as group therapy multiple times a day. Though the duration may seem significantly shorter (one to two months vs. three to six months), our program integrates as much, if not more therapeutic activities for each of our teenagers than that of its long-term counterpart. That said, long-term treatment for teens is not inherently unsuccessful, and there are many excellent programs available, but it was our goal to create an alternative to the long-term treatment for adolescents. We provide a safe environment for our clients to seek treatment, while simultaneously working towards getting them back into their home lives as quickly as possible.
Measuring the success can be very challenging in any treatment setting, but especially when it comes to working with adolescents around mental and emotional health issues. Every young person’s success will appear slightly different, as each person is unique. While we would love to claim that we have the ability to ‘cure’ a client’s ailments that would be untrue. At Pacific Teen Treatment, we are realistic and transparent in our belief that treatment is not about removing all obstacles and challenges in a teenager’s life, but rather about helping to teach healthy and sustainable coping mechanisms for managing their emotions. Through this, our clients will improve their self-esteem, elevate their self-confidence, and work towards cultivating a positive overall self-view, while being armed with the tools for continued growth and recovery.
In the American society, there is an erroneous belief that those who engage in drug use and/ or substance abuse have an addiction problem. While this can be true in some cases, many of the young people that we work with at Pacific Teen Treatment use drugs as a form of self-medication. Teenagers who deal with substance abuse issues are different from adults in that adults who have been abusing substances have the propensity to have been engaging in the negative behavioral pattern for far longer than that of an adolescent.
Drug addiction and self-medicating behaviors can be a slippery slope for young people, as it is very easy for a teen to spiral from self-medicating to addiction. Addressing a young person’s substance abuse or self-medicating behaviors will be an essential component of his or her treatment plan at Pacific Teen Treatment. We also place great emphasis on the underlying mental or emotional health issues that drive the adolescent to self-medicate. If we focus only on the behavior (drug use, in this case) and neglect the underlying issues, we will be doing our client a disservice. This would only be setting the client and family up for future struggles, as the teenager will seek out other negative behaviors to cope with the real issue. At Pacific Teen Treatment we believe that working through the core issue behind a young one’s drug use, while simultaneously addressing the substance use itself can help to set the client and family up for continued success in recovery.
At Pacific Teen Treatment, we address each admission on a case-by-case basis to ensure the teenager is an appropriate fit for our program. Yes, we do accept adolescents who are having suicidal thoughts or ideations. With the twenty-four-hour supervision that our facility offers in addition to the many procedures we have set in place, our staff is equipped to ensure the safety of all of our clients. If, however, we have any concerns around a client’s safety we will work with the family to take the necessary steps and precautions to ensure the individual’s safety. There is a difference between a teen having suicidal thoughts/ ideation versus a teen that has a suicidal plan. If a teenager has a suicidal plan they will most likely require hospitalization before being appropriate for a residential program.
Yes, it is common for us transition clients from a hospital to Pacific Teen Treatment. Most frequently the minimal days spent in the hospital for a teenager with mental and/ or emotional health issues are done so in a hospital unit designed to triage and manage the associated short-term risks. They do not work with adolescent to uncover the underlying issues in order to begin the healing process. This is where Pacific Teen Treatment comes in, as we find the importance of learning to do things differently to be essential to one’s recovery. Integrating healthier coping mechanisms and processing the underlying issues will reduce the risk of a teen ending up in the same environment in the future.