Treating Teens of Divorce
At Paradigm Malibu, we strive to maintain a thorough and special sensitivity to teens from all different backgrounds. For teens of divorced parents, we make efforts to provide special treatment and support that addresses the entire scope of their needs, including any conflicts or stresses that may be connected to, or have arisen from, this experience. This includes Uniquely Paradigm support programs for teens as well as their parents.
Though divorce is becoming an increasingly common experience that both adults and teens go through, this doesn’t negate the considerable difficulty and stress that it brings about. Divorce can be an especially difficult experience for teenagers to go through, because teens’ brains are still forming, including their ability to reason and understand abstractly. Therefore, such a substantial shift in their lives can contribute to difficulty understanding who they are and how they fit into their world, because their world is suddenly so different. This contributes to teens feeling isolated from the familiarity they once knew, abandoned by those closest to them, and confused about their identities.
It’s also common for mental health and/or substance abuse issues to surface during this same time of adolescence, both of which are strongly affected by stress. In this regard, if teens are already addressing mental health issues, the additional source of stress and displacement caused by a divorce can exacerbate their symptoms even more. Furthermore, teens might experience the stress of this divorce for a significant amount of time after it has occurred, as it continues to affect their everyday lives.
Meanwhile, experiencing a divorce can contribute to a teen having difficulty at school and with peers. Teens feel a strong urge to belong to their peer groups at school and understand what their role is in their social world, but this too can become difficult if they no longer understand, or feel familiar with, their foundational home environment. This can make teens feel isolated and alone and lose a sense of belonging. All of these factors can contribute to teens feeling confusion, loneliness, anxiety, and anger. It’s important to understand that a divorce may not be the reason for the onset of a teen’s mental illness or substance abuse, but it might be a significant stressor that serves as a trigger toward an underlying or pre-existing issue.
At Paradigm we believe that the best and most thorough treatment we can provide is to approach teens one at a time, and design their treatment to be as individualized as possible, geared toward their specific needs, experiences, and preferences. For teens who come from divorced parents, our therapists maintain a special awareness toward ways in which this might serve as a stressor or trigger for other symptoms. While therapists are leading teens through their encompassing treatment plan and therapy sessions, they also help to engage teens to address effects that the divorce has had in their lives. Throughout therapy, we are trying to help teens learn an awareness of themselves, which includes their behaviors, their feelings, their thought patterns, and their belief systems. As we lead teens to evaluate themselves on these different levels, we help them make connections between their behaviors and their causes, as well as belief systems that may contribute to both of these. Many times, teens may not even be aware of how their parents’ divorce has created certain beliefs in them, or what effects it has had. By helping teens to uncover these issues, we’re not only helping them to address the main issue they’re struggling with (be it substance abuse or a mental health issue) but also, to address their underlying behaviors. These are some of the ways in which we strive to provide truly holistic treatment, empowering teens to gain the knowledge and resources necessary to move forward, grow, and succeed as healthy human beings.
For all parents, we provide a number of different resources and support systems, while their teen is undergoing treatment. This includes individual parenting sessions, Parent Effectiveness training, frequent updates on their teen’s progress and experience, and free unlimited support and counseling following treatment. For parents who are divorced, we make every effort to make these parenting sessions as effective and comfortable as possible, while also trying to help contribute toward an overall consistent, healthy environment, for the teen.
One of the most powerful resources for growth is within our family sessions, where our therapists help to build a bridge of communication between the teen and parents. Through the work that the teen has been doing with therapists individually, the teen becomes much more open with parents in their sessions together. This allows significant growth and communication to take place in these sessions, as therapists provide a safe place for the teen and the parents to be heard. This can serve as a powerful foundation from which a teen can recover, the parents can feel empowered to support their teen, and everyone can put forth an effort toward a common goal. We understand that the stresses and conflicts that can be present are real, and that it can be difficult to parent together, following a divorce. In this regard, we strive to be an objective, helpful third party, working toward your teen’s best interests, and supporting both parents in every way possible.