Treating Adopted Teens
At Paradigm Malibu, we strive to maintain a special sensitivity toward supporting teens from diverse backgrounds, and work hard to explore, address, and support unique experiences that may affect their current needs and goals. For teens that were adopted, we’ve designed a special treatment program that provides additional guidance and intentional support related to these teens’ unique backgrounds, and incorporate healthy exploration, processing, and reflection of these issues. As always, this level of careful, intentional, and thorough care we provide is only possible because we design and implement every teen treatment plan individually, according to each teen’s unique needs.
Recent studies show that teenagers who were adopted may be at a higher risk for struggles such as substance abuse issues, mental illnesses including Anxiety and Depression, and/or trouble forming meaningful relationships. It’s important to recognize that the reasons for these kinds of struggles are many and varied. One of the leading factors is thought to be genetics, which is a leading cause in both substance abuse issues and mental illness. It’s also important to recognize that early childhood experiences can affect brain development. Therefore, to some degree the original situations from which teens were adopted can have lasting effects. For teens who were adopted from neglectful homes, or environments in which healthy and proper development wasn’t fostered or encouraged, teens may benefit from help in forming and maintaining healthy connections.
Secondly, it can sometimes be common for teens who were adopted to have difficulty wrestling with questions of identity and how they fit into the world. While all teens experience some stress related to identity formation, often teens who were adopted wrestle with additional unique questions and feelings related their biological family history. They may question who they are more than other teens, and struggle with their place in their family, as they learn the ways in which they belong and the ways in which they’re different. This can sometimes lead to anxiety that may contribute to, or exacerbate, symptoms or struggles with mental illness and/or substance abuse. Though these kinds of deeper aspects of identity can be challenging to address, it can also be tremendously helpful and healing for teens to become more aware of their thoughts and feelings surrounding these issues. For all of our teens here at Paradigm, we want to help guide them through specific and honest questions that allow them to better recognize and understand who they are as individuals.
Another important aspect of treatment at Paradigm Malibu is the integrative work we do with parents and family members. To this end, the support we provide within our Adopted Teens Program extends to both the teens and their parents. For parents, within the scope of our Parent Effectiveness Training and other parent services, our therapists provide parents with counseling and support both during and after their teen’s treatment. During family therapy sessions, therapists help foster healthy, honest conversations between teens and family members, which is necessary in order for each family member to feel heard and respected. These conversations include but are not limited to teens’ thoughts and feelings surrounding having been adopted. What we find is that by stepping into this conversation and helping teens and family members to communicate in a respectful, honest manner, incredible growth and healing can take place. This family work can be extremely powerful in promoting deep healing for the teens as individuals, as well as the entire family.
At Paradigm Malibu, our entire treatment approach is designed from the mindset that each teen is a unique individual that must be treated according to their unique needs, goals, experiences, thoughts, and feelings. This is why no two teen treatment programs are alike and there is no generic treatment plan for a given diagnosis. Instead, we deeply believe that by providing intentional, precise, thorough care to teens in need, we’re able to support them with the guidance and leadership they need in order make informed choices toward their own authentic healing and growth.