Teen Trauma Treatment
Teen trauma is difficult to face. Both parents and children can be overwhelmed by traumatic events and their consequences. Parents must be courageous in taking the first step to address trauma within the family. It isn’t easy for anyone.
For a parent, the long-term effects of teen trauma are jarring to experience. You want to protect your teen and ensure their safety and happiness.
When you see your child suffering, it hurts. We understand, and we are here to help.
Facing Teen Trauma
Teen trauma can be healed only once it is faced. Know that you are not alone in the struggle.
Teen trauma is not rare. New research shows that 66 percent of teens have been exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime, and 28 percent of those had experienced more than one traumatic event.
When you consider the challenging lives of teenagers, these numbers are not surprising. Adolescence is a time of transitions and growth. Furthermore, teens are being exposed to the world on a larger scale. This exposure happens as they mature and take steps toward adulthood.
Accidental trauma can occur. For example, if a teen is badly injured or witnesses a life-threatening incident. Yet, accidental trauma is only one of the many kinds of teen trauma. Teen trauma also includes physical violence, sexual assault, emotional distress, and mental suffering. Moreover, teen trauma experiences often result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Teen Trauma and PTSD
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders provides the definition for PTSD. PTSD is defined as a mental disorder. Such a disorder is experienced by someone who has suffered a traumatic event.
Potential PTSD symptoms include panic attacks, nightmares, flashbacks, avoidance syndrome, and incongruous fear.
PTSD is a complex way of describing the long-term consequences of traumatic events. Some of these traumatic events happen only once, like the death of a loved one or a bad car accident. However, some traumatic events occur repeatedly. Ongoing teen trauma includes child abuse, bullying, sexual exploitation, and sexual abuse. Repetitive cases of teen trauma can be particularly damaging.
Traumatic events can generate an overwhelming sense of terror, panic, and helplessness. It’s hard when a teen suffers from PTSD. The traumatic feelings can be triggered and re-experienced over and over again. Even though the traumatic event is in the past, the painful symptoms remain.
Effective treatment requires the courage to go behind the curtain of silence. Parents need to ask hard questions, such as these:
- How severe is the teen trauma?
- How did your family respond to the traumatic event?
- Did you underestimate the long-term effects of the trauma on your child?
No one should face these questions without support. It is important to have help to guide you and your family toward healing.
Newport Academy understands how hard it is to see a child in pain. Caring, professional treatment can ease you and your child into the healing process. Once your child feels secure, the real work of recovery can begin.
Why Teen Trauma Needs to Be Treated
There is a Forbes article on a University of Pennsylvania study. The study examines the long-term effects of teen trauma. In the article, journalist Alice Walton interviews the study’s author, Dr. C. Neill Epperson. Dr. Epperson outlines the reasons why teen trauma needs to be treated. She first explains the effects of trauma:
“We know from preclinical studies as well as brain imaging studies in humans that the brain is changed by early life stress… The experience of significant early-life adversity increases the risk of behaviors and lifestyle choices that lead to sub-optimal health later in life.”
In addition, the doctor emphasizes early teen trauma intervention and treatment. Dr. Epperson says clearly, “Intervening early in childhood or adolescence to address post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety and to promote healthy behaviors may be one method to reduce illness risk later in life.”
Teen trauma treatment begins with a clear understanding of the symptoms of trauma. Understanding the symptoms means knowing the signs.
Understanding Teen Trauma Symptoms
After a traumatic event, PTSD can take many forms. Learning the signs of trauma and the symptoms of PTSD is important for parents of teens.
After a traumatic event, teen trauma signs and symptoms include the following:
1) Fear and Trepidation
Feeling that something bad is going to happen again. Hence, worrying that the effects of the trauma will never go away.
2) Worry and Anxiety
Feeling nervous and overwhelmed in everyday situations. PTSD anxiety often comes out of nowhere. Indeed, the constant worrying can paralyze a teen.
3) Avoidance Reaction
Active avoidance of people, places, and things associated with a traumatic event.
4) Uncontrollable Rage and Angry Outbursts
Aggressive, angry behavior is common. Such behavior can include screaming or threats of physical violence.
5) Overwhelming Shame and Paralyzing Guilt
Traumatized teens often blame themselves, leading to shame and embarrassment. Oftentimes, the guilt is overwhelming.
6) Extended Grief and Bouts of Depression
An extended timeline of grief is common in teens suffering from cases of traumatic loss. However, the death of a family member or the loss of a beloved pet can trigger a traumatic bout. Such a bout can lead to extended grief that becomes severe depression.
7) Numbing Out and Feeling Nothing
Teens numb out in response to emotional trauma, physical trauma, or mental trauma. Often, they withdraw and isolate. Moreover, their communication becomes monotone. The pain becomes too much to bear. As a result, they would rather feel nothing at all.
8) Extreme Disruption of Sleep Patterns
Traumatic events can disrupt sleep patterns in many ways. Indeed, nightmares are common. Moreover, some teens suffer from ongoing feelings of exhaustion, and want to sleep all the time. Other teens have bouts of insomnia.
9) Night Terrors
Night terrors are typically experienced by young children. However, teen trauma often leads to a new pattern of night terrors. People who suffer from night terrors often wake drenched in sweat. Often, they are cold and shaking. Later, they have no clear memories of the fear they experienced in their sleep.
Certainly, the above symptoms of trauma are hard to take. But perhaps the most frightening symptom of trauma for a teen to experience is a panic attack. Moreover, panic attacks are hard for a parent to behold.
Teen Trauma and Panic Attacks
After a traumatic event, teens often suffer panic attacks. For no clear reason, your teen can be overwhelmed by an invisible onslaught of fear and terror.
Like a bad storm, a panic attack looks and sounds worse than it is. The trigger for the attack is not usually dangerous. Yet, the threat seems all too real to a traumatized child. Thus, during a panic attack, your teen’s fear response can be greatly out of proportion with reality. This is a time when patience and love are needed.
When a panic attack happens, you can do your best to help by comforting and caring for your child. It will pass. Still, a panic attack often feels like it lasts forever. This feeling affects both the teen experiencing it and the parent witnessing it. It’s beyond difficult to watch your child in the grip of a panic attack. If you have experienced this firsthand, we empathize with your deep concern.
The Symptoms of a Panic Attack
- Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
- Pounding heart, tightening in the chest
- Trembling, shaking, loss of balance
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, feeling faint
- Chills or hot flashes
- Nausea, stomach pain, cramping
Once a panic attack passes, recovery from the symptoms tends to be quick. The most persistent ongoing problem is the fear of having another attack.
Fear of future panic attacks can intensify the avoidance syndrome. As a result, your teen arduously avoids certain people, places, and things. The impetus is because they are perceived as potential triggers.
Still, relief is possible. A key to overcoming panic attacks is a positive environment. The central focus of Newport Academy treatment programs is to provide a safe haven for your teen. Consequently, we emphasize comfort and security.
Naturally, parents should consult professionals to help for their child. Still, they need to know about the trauma in the first place. You cannot help your child if you are unaware that a traumatic event has occurred.
Often, through no fault of their own, parents are unaware that their teen has been traumatized. When it comes to teen trauma, adolescents can be uncommunicative. This is sometimes due to guilt or shame. Understanding how teens react to teen trauma can help. You may be able to detect a problem even when your child is not talking about the traumatic event.
Teen Mental Health and Teen Physical Health
The same principles and methods of maintaining physical health also can be applied to teen mental health. First, we heal the cause of the problem. Next, we establish tools that improve teen mental health moving forward.
Like physical health, long-term mental health depends on lifestyle. As a result, Newport Academy highlights nutrition and exercise. Therefore, we teach teens how to take care of their body as well as their brain.
Key Facts about the Teen Brain and Teen Mental Health
The brain controls our impulses and reactions. However, teen brains are still developing and maturing. Here are a few key facts about the teen brain.
- During the teen years, the brain circuitry regulating emotional responses is changing. As a result, underlying patterns and behaviors become greatly heightened and less functional. Most of all, this shift explains the urgency and intensity of teen emotional reactions.
- We know reproductive hormones flood the teen brain and body. In the same way, stress hormones also increase during the teen years. As a consequence, teens suddenly experience stress on a whole new level. More importantly, amplified stress levels greatly affect social behavior.
- Did you know the neural regulation of sleep changes during the teen years? As a result of these changes, teens experience bouts of insomnia. They also sleep too much. Both are examples of neural regulatory symptoms. Therefore, adequate sleep is crucial for teen mental health.
- For teens, an increase in intellectual power combined with a greater need for independence. However, such impulses are not well-regulated. The planning and discrimination that come with maturity are overwhelmed by impulses and desires.
Source: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Teen Brain Development and Treatment
According to the same study on the teen brain by the NIMH, teen service providers need to adapt their programs. Given this data, treatment service offerings should reflect the state of the teenage brain:
“Research findings on the brain may serve to help adults understand the importance of creating an environment in which teens can explore and experiment, while helping them avoid behavior that is destructive to themselves and others.”
Newport Academy respects and abides by the above recommendations of the National Institute of Mental Health. In fact, such an approach has been a key factor in our success from day one.
Adolescent Responses to Teen Trauma
Adolescent responses to traumatic events are wide and varied. Although we detailed some of the teen trauma symptoms above, there is more you need to know.
When teens experience a traumatic event, you might think that they would want to talk about it. Yet, this is not always the case. In fact, the opposite is often true. Rather than processing a traumatic event, teens often want to try to ignore or escape from it.
Teen trauma almost always disrupts family communication. You can help resolve this communication breakdown by understanding why it’s happening.
Why a Traumatized Teen Has Trouble Communicating
The reasons behind a traumatized teen’s inability to communicate include the following:
- Needing more time to absorb what has happened
- Not wanting to upset their parents
- Not being able to acknowledge the reality of what happened
- Feeling afraid of being condemned, judged, or even ostracized
- Believing that they need to be strong for the family
- Feeling safer talking with friends and peers
- Not knowing how to express unfamiliar thoughts.
Do any of these breakdowns in communication sound familiar? If they do, you are not alone.
Families from every conceivable background face the same difficulties. Challenges like these tend to be universal for those dealing with teen trauma.
Teen Trauma and Family Problems
Teen trauma leads to other family problems and challenges. A traumatic event experienced by one member of the family is felt by all. The trauma is like a poison pill released into the shared body of the family.
We can help you limit the damaging aftereffects. The Newport Academy Treatment Team believes healing is not only possible but essential.
Seven Ways that Teen Trauma Triggers Family Problems
- The traumatic event is ignored or denied by the family.
- Communication about the traumatic event is restricted or avoided.
- The family blames the teenager for not getting over it.
- Different points of view about what happened to divide the family.
- The family downplays the traumatic event and doesn’t take it seriously.
- Parents lean on the teenager for emotional support.
- The family fails to access the professional help they need.
Teen trauma does not have to lead to such hardships. A path to sustainable healing is possible. Facing teen trauma by accessing effective help can open the door to resolution.
As a parent, you can take the first steps toward opening that door. First, be present for your teen. As a parent, your unconditional support means everything. The healing process begins with love.
First Steps in the Teen Trauma Healing Process
The reality of teen trauma is painful and overwhelming. Figuring out how to begin the healing process can be confusing. The Newport Academy Treatment Team can help.
Here are several steps a parent can take to begin the process of healing:
- Find a quiet, comfortable place to talk to your teen. Avoid interruptions by turning off cell phones. Foster an atmosphere of security for your child.
- Begin with safe and open communication. Reassure your child that they will not be judged, punished, or condemned. Even if this is the farthest thing from your mind, a teen needs to hear it out loud.
- Listen first without commenting or giving your opinion. Your teen’s communication process might be slow and halting. Be patient.
- Make sure your teen knows that a strong reaction to a traumatic event is not abnormal. Many other people, of all ages, have experienced what your teen is going through.
- Allow for changes in roles and responsibilities during recovery. Reduce pressure and provide the space to heal. Your child needs to rebuild their strength.
By taking such proactive steps, you can start the healing process. But help from outside the family unit might still be needed. Facing and healing the extreme symptoms of teen trauma often means professional expertise.
Teen Trauma Reactions and Acting Out
Teens sometimes react to the pain and suffering of teen trauma by acting out. It does not matter the nature of the traumatic event experienced by your child. Extreme reactions are common responses to all forms of teen trauma.
But when acting out threatens to become an ongoing pattern, action must be taken. Unfortunately, a negative behavioral pattern can become a chronic condition. No parent wants a behavioral condition to worsen into a disorder.
Thus, professional help is often the best route. It is always better to err on the side of safety when it comes to a child. By accessing help, you gain the certainty that you are helping your teen to heal. In addition, certain teen trauma symptoms mean professional help is needed.
Teen Trauma Symptoms = Professional Help Needed
- Reckless or harmful behavior
- Threatening violence to themselves or others
- Seeming depressed and/or pre-suicidal
- Appearing paralyzed by anxiety
- Shutting down and numbing out; tuning out the world
- Self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol
- Causing persistent worry and fear in parents
To heal from teen trauma, your teenager needs to feel safe. For parents, knowing that your child is safe and sound is a necessity. Newport Academy has extensive experience helping families like yours.
We know how to overcome teen trauma. Thus, our team balances professional expertise, unconditional love, compassionate understanding, and holistic support. The Newport Academy team offers teen trauma treatment services in a safe environment. Our services include clinical, experiential, and spiritual support.
We can ease your mind by helping your teen move forward.
Our goal is to uncover and heal the root causes of the problem so your teen can find calm and peace. The days of constant worrying will pass. Your child deserves to be provided with all the resources that you can give them.
Your teen can be a productive and happy kid again. We see such successful outcomes every day at Newport Academy. We are confident that we can help, and that there is hope.
The Newport Academy Treatment Program Can Help
Individual Therapy (Psychotherapy)
Several different forms of individual and group therapy help foster sustainable healing:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT brings clarity and valuable insight. It helps a child experiencing teen trauma. CBT identifies the negative emotions and self-defeating thoughts.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)–informed skills: DBT provides specific skills like mindfulness and emotional regulation. These skills can be used right away to deal with teen trauma and become stronger with practice.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR uses a set of specific eye movements, coupled with a focus on traumatic memories, to catalyze changes in brain circuitry—similar to what happens in REM sleep—that support clients to effectively process and integrate trauma.
- Experiential therapies are particularly powerful for teens with anxiety disorder. These include art therapy, music therapy, Adventure Therapy, and Equine-Assisted Therapy. These modalities help teens explore their emotions and build strength. They foster creative expression, overcoming challenges, and developing supportive relationships.
- Mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation help. They are effective in combating teen anxiety. Thus, mindfulness meditation and regular yoga practice help increase teen trauma coping skills.
At Newport Academy, we create a personalized treatment plan for each teen. Each plan includes a variety of these modalities. Services may vary depending on treatment location.
Know the Facts.
61% of teens have been exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. 19% have experienced three or more such events.
Children who have experienced trauma are 15 times more likely to attempt suicide
Kids who have experienced trauma are 4 times more likely to become an alcoholic. They also are 4 times more likely to inject drugs.
Do We Use Prescription Drugs to Treat Teen Trauma?
Prescription medication is rarely the only answer to teen trauma. Doctors often prescribe anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants. Still, there are other ways to work through teen trauma. Indeed, these approaches are just as successful and have no dangerous side effects.
In some cases, drugs can be helpful to stabilize a traumatized teen. In these cases, Newport Academy monitors medication in conjunction with psychotherapeutic recommendations.
Teen trauma may be linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Short-term use of prescription medication can address such an imbalance. The goal is to give your teen the space to do the real work.
Long-term health and happiness is not about relying solely on medications. Rather, developing new behaviors and greater self-understanding is key. Such work fosters emotional stability and healing. Our approach is to treat the individual as a whole. We ensure that all aspects of well-being are addressed.
The Calm Sanctuary of Residential Treatment
It can be scary and exhausting to face teen trauma. You don’t have to do this on your own. Newport Academy provides the highest-quality care using evidence-based methods. Our staff and clinicians are among the best in their respective fields.
Residential treatment allows teens to heal without the distractions of everyday life. Furthermore, there is scientific evidence that residential treatment works for teen trauma. We often hear from our alumni that their time with us changed their life.
The life-sustaining environment of Newport Academy is fostered by love and support. Your child is safe with us.
Our residential treatment provides a nourishing, empathetic environment. Your teen will no longer feel isolated, and overcome by the symptoms of PTSD. Newport Academy fosters true long-term recovery from teen trauma.
Teen Trauma and Substance Use Disorder
PTSD symptoms brought on by a traumatic event are hard. Teens sometimes self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. They might feel that this is the only way to numb the pain and fear they’re experiencing.
At Newport Academy, we also specialize in treating substance use disorders. We can help traumatized teens leave self-medicating behavior behind. Our professional staff has a proven track record of experience and success.
We offer a solution for traumatized teens with substance use disorder. We can help your teen find the path forward. The goal is to overcome the PTSD symptoms of teen trauma. Moreover, the goal is to leave behind the behavioral patterns of drug or alcohol use.
Kindness and Compassion Will Help Struggling Teens
Parents of traumatized teens are often overwhelmed and scared. We understand these feelings, and we can help. We embrace these teens and their families throughout the healing process.
Indeed, our clinical expertise is matched only by their compassion. We provide unconditional love that supports your teen’s recovery as well as your own. Indeed, we know that the road back is hard, and we help your teen stay on the path.
We empathize with your need to make sure that your child is safe and secure. You can trust us to provide the answers and solutions you need. We also offer the caring that your teen needs to succeed in treatment.
What Makes Our Residential Treatment Program Different
1) Personalized Treatment
Our priority is to offer the most effective personalized treatment available. Therefore, each individualized treatment program is multifaceted and diverse. Moreover, we incorporate evidence-based clinical and experiential therapeutic modalities.
As a result, we find what works for your teen. Indeed, we tailor an individualized care plan to meet your teen’s needs, strengths, and challenges. Everyone is different, and we celebrate these differences. Thus, we never take a “cookie cutter” approach to treatment.
Upon admission, your teen will be assigned a Treatment Team. This team develops a customized program. The goal is to promote your child’s growth and sustainable healing.
Always in close contact, the Treatment Team may include the following professionals, depending on location:
- Individual Therapist
- Family Therapist
- Registered Nurse
- Clinical Director (oversees and manages the Treatment Team).
Take a moment to meet our team —
2) Our Philosophy Is Love
We help teens heal within a safe, accepting, and nurturing environment. Indeed, we pride ourselves on providing unconditional love for every teen. As a result, this love fosters the groundwork for treatment. As a result, deep issues can come to light. Thus, the difficult challenges of teen trauma can be successfully resolved.
Unconditional love is the foundation of our transformative process. We care for teens until they learn to love themselves.
3) We Achieve Results
Yes, the success of your teen is very important to us. You are trusting Newport Academy with your child, and we highly prize and value that trust. Therefore, we will go the extra mile and more to help.
Our program tracks 15 different treatment goals regarding family, academics, and behavior. These goals address the following:
- Anxiety and stress
- Feeling stuck in a cycle of fear
- Teenage depression
- Drug and alcohol use
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal thoughts and self-harm
- School performance
- Family dynamics.
We realize that the hardest part of seeking treatment is to
get started. We’re here to help make that part easier, 24
hours a day, 7 days a week.
Learn more about Newport Academy’s comprehensive approach to treating teen mental health. Browse our website or call us at 877-959-0904. We are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We treat teenagers struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Experience has shown us that Newport Academy’s treatment programs work. But the most important thing is for you to find the help you need. If Newport Academy is not the right fit, then we will help you find a solution that works for you. We want your family and all families to begin the journey to healing and happiness.