In approaching Teen Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorder Treatment, we aim to be as thorough, precise, and individualized, throughout every step of the treatment process. This includes even the originating phone calls preceding the family’s decision for a teen to come to Paradigm, the ongoing diagnostic processes, and all different aspects of our therapy session and therapeutic supplementary program work. We believe that by being more thorough and exacting every step of the way, the result is that our treatment experience is far more precise and individualized than many treatment centers. And to this end, we recognize the initial diagnostic interviews and processes, including the Psychological Testing and Teen Psychiatric Evaluation, to be two pivotal steps in ensuring our ability to provide this high quality treatment.
Upon admission to Paradigm Malibu, all teens begin with several different diagnostic testing processes, including a complete psychiatric evaluation by our Medical Director, a Board Certified Adolescent Psychiatrist with a specialty in Addictionology. This specific evaluation can last from several hours to several days to complete, depending on the complexity of any number of issues, and what connections may exist between them. Though the psychiatrist does work with teens to explore present problems and symptoms, the evaluation reaches much further beyond this. The psychiatrist also works with teens to evaluate current health issues and gather a thorough health history including family health and psychiatric histories, medications currently being taken, information about the teen’s childhood development, school, friends, and family relationships. If appropriate it may also include laboratory studies such as blood tests or urinalysis. To this end, the Psychiatric Evaluation that teens undergo is an extremely thorough look at any and all possible contributing factors that may be at work in the teen’s current struggles and experience so that our treatment teams have the most thorough information possible upon which to draw upon, when creating the teen’s treatment plan.
Following this initial process, the psychiatrist will then work with the adolescent to develop a formulation that combines the biological, psychological and social parts of the teen’s unique challenge(s). This will be done with full consideration of developmental needs, history and strengths. This evaluation will then be utilized as one component in the creation of an individualized treatment plan created for each adolescent by Paradigm’s interdisciplinary treatment team.
Though the reasons for such careful and intensive Psychiatric Evaluation are really too many to list, one of the foremost reasons is it ensures our ability to treat teens as whole people, and to prevent Co-Occurring Disorders from being missed. The statistics on the rate of Co-Occurring Disorders that go undiagnosed and untreated in teens is staggering and discouraging. We see the reason for this as being largely due to the hurried, repetitive nature of so many treatment centers diagnostic processes, which aim to notice and address symptoms, with the goal being to have a diagnosis as quickly as possible. This sort of approach is not even always intentional among treatment centers’ but somewhat inevitable and unpreventable in situations where there are a large number of teens, few resources, and limited time. Unfortunately, despite even the most sincere intentions, the results of this are teens experiencing, and sometimes leaving, treatment with the most deep and rooted causes of their struggles being left virtually unaddressed.
The thorough and intensive nature of our approach to this preliminary and foundational diagnosis work is one of the reasons our treatment plans can be so holistic and all-encompassing. Though it requires notably more time and resources up front, we find that it increases the quality and reach of the treatment experiences throughout the teens’ time here. This in turn, provides them with the best possible opportunity for full recovery that can withstand the future struggles they face.