At Paradigm, we believe that in some ways, providing adolescent treatment is like trying to piece together the best puzzle, combining a number of different approaches, tools, and experiences that will best set up a particular teen to engage in his or her own healing process. This level of individuality, with which we strive to design our treatment plans, is both the beauty and difficulty of our process. It is the reason for the extensive list of modalities and programs that we offer to teens here at Paradigm. Amidst all the optional or moving parts that may or may not be incorporated into a treatment plan, Teen Group Therapy is one staple of the treatment plans that we always include. In many ways, Group Therapy provides a perfect compliment to our Individual Therapy sessions, helping to encourage, deepen, and further the deep transformative work that’s taking place.
One of the most powerful aspects of Teen Group Therapy is that especially for adolescents, the importance of peer interaction as a tool for healing and recovery cannot be stressed enough. The power of peer relationships, and therefore the possibility for meaningful positive engagement and encouragement within group therapy sessions, is stronger at this stage of human development than at any other. This provides unique opportunities for therapeutic interventions, especially when used methodically, in combination with other treatment tools.
At Paradigm, we implement a social group modality that includes didactic, experiential, and interpersonal process-oriented work. With the professional guidance and encouragement of our therapists, adolescents frequently have a profoundly positive impact on each other’s ability to find value in approaching life differently and in meeting treatment goals. In the company of other teens who are also facing challenges related to Mental Health or Substance Abuse Disorders, teens often find courage to be strong, if not just for themselves, then for each other. Teens also find relief and peace in knowing that they’re not the only ones that struggle with these kinds of thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, or symptoms. Because this helps teens not to feel as isolated or “weird” compared to their peers, this can be a very powerful factor in helping teens to engage in their treatment and face their struggles honestly, rather than with resistance.
Furthermore, Teen Group Therapy sessions also provide teens the opportunity to evaluate another teen’s struggles from an external perspective, noticing in others the falsity of thoughts and beliefs that might also be present- but less noticeable- in themselves. And lastly, there’s also great value and possibility of healing in teens getting to be honest and open about their struggles and experience non-judgment and acceptance from their peers. Often, social conflicts or difficulties with peers contribute to or exacerbate the stress that teens are experiencing in relation to their mental illness. Therefore, engaging in healthy and meaningful peer interactions can help to alleviate these feelings of anxiety surrounding such interactions, which can contribute to their willingness to re-engage in relationships, when returning home. Especially because teens’ struggles with Mental Health illnesses often includes some aspect of the teens withdrawing from their peers, we believe that this willingness, openness, and courage to actively re-engage in their peer community is a crucial aspect of recovery and healing.
Our Group Therapy sessions are often some of the most profound, powerful, and enjoyable times of treatment for the adolescents at Paradigm, providing them with an opportunity to give and receive. These sessions help teens to recognize that they still have things to offer others, to regain a sense of confidence and self-worth, to learn to share honestly with their peers, to experience a sense of meaning and pride from encouraging others in their own healing, and to connect meaningfully with their treatment community. We believe that some of the potency of these group sessions is only possible because of our uniquely small setting, and our intentional commitment to only treating a limited number of adolescents at a time. Because of this, rather than moving from group to group during their treatment, our teens routinely engage with the same small group of peers, which allows for a sense of community that can grow over time. It also allows for authentic connections between the group and the therapists, because of the ability to build on the progress being made on a daily basis. In effect, this means that even our Group Therapy sessions maintain a concentrated, close dynamic that allows for very specific, specialized work to take place.