We consider teen psychological testing a crucial aspect of the development and implementation of treatment plans. Yet, it is often a step that is either hurried or neglected completely. At Paradigm, this testing is conducted within the first 48 hours of a teen’s arrival, and may include written, verbal, and visual evaluations to assess the teen’s cognitive and emotional functioning. This is one of the aspects of our treatment programs that sets us apart from the rest, in the thoroughness, attention, and quality we give to the diagnostic process. We believe this careful beginning is what eventually results in our highly individualized, specialized treatment plans for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorder treatment.
The most central goal of psychological testing at Paradigm is to achieve the most precise and thorough diagnosis possible. Though this may seem an obvious, rudimentary goal of all treatment centers, the unfortunate truth is that diagnoses continue to be poorly done year after year, leaving large gaps in teens’ treatment plans, which makes the teens vulnerable to relapse and other future struggles. This sad reality is evident by the statistics of teen relapse, misdiagnosis, and undiagnosed Co-Occurring Disorders. Admittedly, there exist many contributing factors to this kind of poor treatment and diagnosis practices. For instance, many of the missed opportunities for early intervention and proper treatment occur in the context of teens visiting their primary doctors, when things go missed or symptoms related to Mental Health struggles are misdiagnosed as other ailments. However, what’s even more unfortunate is that often these mistakes aren’t mitigated, even once teens engage in treatment for Substance Abuse or Mental Health Disorder treatments.
Another important aspect of our approach to teen Psychological Testing is an effort to recognize strengths, interests, and desires of the teens. Often undervalued or even ignored in the therapeutic diagnostic process, we believe these positive attributes can be used as powerful positive forces, both during and following treatment; therefore, we aim to engage and support these strengths from the very beginning. It’s common for treatment approaches to be based on teens’ weaknesses and symptoms, especially those old approaches based on the perspective from the 1950s, which are still surprisingly present in treatment today.
Though we recognize that incorporating treatment of symptoms is one necessary aspect of the treatment process, we also believe that to seek only to alleviate or eliminate symptoms is to make teens vulnerable to the very triggers and conflicts that led to or worsened their symptoms in the first place. In these cases, even if teens leave having “recovered,” they are going to be ill-equipped to take on the struggles and triggers they’ll still have to face back in their every day lives.
In the case of Mental Health Disorders, treating symptoms related to specific illnesses is crucial and sometimes primary to supporting teens to address other aspects of their current situations. However, at Paradigm Malibu, we do not aim to simply support teens to become more comfortable with the symptoms of their illness, but rather, more equipped, knowledgeable, and resourceful to deal with their illness, moving forward. In the case of Substance Abuse Disorders, properly diagnosing the underlying triggers, causes, and conflicts that led to the abuse in the first place is a necessary step in guiding teens toward long-lasting recovery. This can, but does not always, include Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders.