Adolescence is a period of enormous growth and change. While these changes are normal, they may also trigger the emergence of complicated emotional and behavioral health issues, ranging from teen drug abuse and adolescent eating disorders, to school and family difficulties. Additional issues such as trauma, loss or even Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) can uniquely impact those undergoing this challenging stage of growth and development.
The Emotional Health component of Paradigm Malibu is designed to intervene and treat the full range of emotional health issues rather than simply focusing on behaviors themselves. All therapy modalities are conducted by credentialed clinical therapists, with specific expertise in adolescent drug treatment. We are pleased to offer the following array of emotional health interventions:
Upon admission, all teens are given a complete psychiatric evaluation by our Medical Director, a Board Certified Adolescent Psychiatrist with a specialty in Addictionology. This evaluation can take several hours to several days to complete, depending on the complexity of any number of issues. The psychiatrist will explore present problems and symptoms, current health issues, a health history, 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.
Working with the adolescent, the psychiatrist will then develop a formulation that combines the biological, psychological and social parts of the teen’s unique challenges(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. Learn more about the teen psychiatric evaluation by reading here.
Within the first 48 hours of treatment, each adolescent is given a comprehensive psychological testing evaluation by a licensed clinical psychologist. This may include written, visual or verbal evaluations administered to assess an adolescent’s cognitive and emotional functioning. The results are then coupled with evaluations conducted by the adolescent psychiatrist, and on going assessments completed by licensed marriage and family therapists. Collectively, these professionals provide the most comprehensive assessment possible for both diagnostic purposes and the creation and implementation of an individualized treatment plan. Learn more about Paradigm’s teen psychological testing by reading more here.
Paradigm places a high value on individual therapy. As evidence, we are the only adolescent treatment program that provides individual therapy every day of an adolescent’s treatment. We believe this degree of intensity is imperative to achieving meaningful and sustainable change. All daily individual therapy sessions are conducted by credentialed mental health professionals. Paradigm Malibu does not use para-professional counselors to provide psychotherapy sessions with participants or their families. While group therapy is an important part of any adolescent’s treatment, individual therapy sessions are essential for the deeper, more difficult work required for healing and internalized, long term change. Learn more here.
When treating adolescents, the importance of peer interaction as a tool for healing and recovery cannot be stressed enough. The power of peer relationships is stronger at this stage of human development than at any other. This provides unique opportunities for therapeutic interventions. We therefore implement a social group modality that includes didactic, experiential, and interpersonal process-oriented work. With proper professional guidance, peers frequently have a profoundly positive impact on each other’s ability to find value in approaching life differently and in meeting treatment goals. Learn more here.
When an adolescent is dealing with chemical dependency, emotional health and/or behavioral health issues, it affects the entire family. It is therefore important that, whenever possible, family members be directly involved in treatment. At Paradigm Malibu, every family is afforded the opportunity to participate in individual and multi- family therapy, conducted by a licensed family therapist. Individual family therapy allows participants to focus on family dynamics, specifically to enhance efforts to achieve the changes being sought in treatment. Multi- family therapy allows families experiencing similar concerns to process and learn from each other. Learn more about Family Therapy and Multi-Family Therapy.
If family members are unable to attend sessions due to work, geographic location, or for any other reason, our family therapist is available to conduct Skype, or telephonic sessions.
Equine Therapy, also known as Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, is the evidence based practice of having teens work directly with horses, under the supervision of a credentialed Equine Therapist. This treatment option serves as a means to provide metaphoric experiences for the promotion of emotional growth. The fact that horses are generally non-judgmental and have no preconceived expectations or motives, makes them very effective at mirroring the attitudes and behaviors of the adolescents with whom they are working. This popular modality affords youth with opportunities to focus on relationship patterns, stress management, communication styles, empathy and basic interpersonal skills.
Research suggests that Equine Therapy is a powerful, effective treatment option for those struggling with issues ranging from teen drug abuse to addiction, depression, anxiety, self injury, grief, trauma, PTSD, low self esteem, ADD or any number of emotional health and/or behavioral health issues.
Expressive Arts Therapies
The purpose of Expressive Arts therapies is to provide teens with alternative methods of expression that reaffirms their emotional experiences, and provides new perspectives relative to their thought processes. Through art, music, dance/movement, drama, cinema, biblio, written and narrative therapies, youth can utilize creative ways to communicate difficult thoughts and feelings that they might not otherwise be able to articulate. As a result of these interventions, youth begin to re-experience emotional material in a more present and tangible way that allows for corrective experiences within the creative work itself. Paradigm Malibu utilizes licensed master’s level therapists, to evoke and process material gleaned from creative expression. Learn more here!
Some people love the process of making art, while others can be intimidated by the process. The latter have often times had bad experiences in school or other settings where their efforts were judged in a way that was unkind and/or unproductive. Art Therapy however, is not about creating art for art’s sake and there are certainly no judgments. At Paradigm Malibu, Art Therapy is utilized to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of teen participants. Extensive research in the field confirms that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps adolescents resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage impulses, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, improve self-awareness, and achieve insight.
Art therapy integrates the fields of human development, visual art and the creative process with models of counseling and psychotherapy. Art therapy has specifically demonstrated its effectiveness in the treatment of mental and emotional health issues, substance abuse and addictions, family and relationship issues, social and emotional difficulties, trauma and loss, physical, cognitive, and neurological problems, and psychosocial difficulties. The intra-psychic materials evoked through the use of art, are frequently folded in to an adolescent’s comprehensive treatment plan and explored through additional modalities of treatment. Learn more here.
At Paradigm Malibu, the Drama Therapist most often works in a group process to recreate different individual, family and social dynamics as they emerge in treatment. Drama therapy narratives are guided by the youth in treatment and are remarkable opportunities for corrective emotional experiences of past events. Drama therapy sessions build on and enhance important work being done through additional treatment modalities.
Drama Therapy is a form of psychological therapy in which all of the performance arts are utilized within the therapeutic relationship. Dramatherapists are both artists and clinicians and draw on their training in theatre / drama and therapy to create methods to engage teens in effecting psychological, emotional and social changes. The therapy gives equal validity to body and mind within the dramatic context; stories, myths, masks and improvisation are examples of the range of artistic interventions a drama therapist may employ. These provide opportunities for the adolescent to explore difficult and painful life experiences through an indirect approach. These distancing techniques allow youth to probe deeper into their emotional world. The containing nature of the therapy and the trust built within the therapeutic relationship allow for issues to be fully explored and vital reflection time helps young people internalize and process the issues that surfaced during the creative work. Read more here!
As an alternative form of communication and expression, music therapy allows many teens to tap into the core emotional and behavioral elements. As with other forms of expressive arts therapies, many youth who have difficulty responding to traditional talk therapies, thrive in this alternative expressive modality.
Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship. At Paradigm Malibu, Music Therapy sessions are conducted by a credentialed music therapist. While one could argue that most if not all music has therapeutic value, music therapy is a highly specialized practice that requires specific skills and knowledge. At Paradigm, the music therapist participates as a full member of the interdisciplinary treatment team. The Music Therapist assists in the assessment of each young person’s emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses. The music therapist also designs music sessions for individuals and groups based on each adolescent’s needs using music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance, and learning through music. Learn more here!
Some young people love to dance, while others don’t. Those that fall into the latter category sometimes worry that they are going to be coerced into dancing or performing. This is of course not the case. Participation is voluntary and collaborative in nature. Dance/Movement therapy effects changes in feelings, cognitions, physical functioning, and behaviors of the teens who do participate. All DMT sessions at Paradigm Malibu are conducted by a Certified Dance Movement Therapist.
Dance/Movement Therapy is based on the empirically supported premise that the body, mind and spirit are interconnected. As such, the American Dance Therapy Association defines dance/movement therapy as, “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual.” This modality is focused on movement behavior as it emerges in the therapeutic relationship. Expressive, communicative, and adaptive behaviors are all considered for group and individual treatment. Body movement, as the core component of dance, simultaneously provides a means of assessment and the mode of intervention for a range of issues including teen drug abuse, emotional health and behavioral health issues. Learn more here!
Not all adolescents love to read. For many it is more of a chore than a pleasure. For those who love or value reading however, Biblio Therapy can be a powerful treatment tool. This modality involves utilizing a process of dynamic interaction between a therapist, reader and literature-interaction which may be utilized for personal assessment, adjustment, and growth. The concept of this treatment modality is based on the simple human inclination to identify with others through their expressions in literature and art. For instance, a grieving adolescent who reads a story about another young person who has lost a parent may feel less alone in the world.
For centuries, literary sources have assisted readers with the resolution of complex problems, providing both wisdom and comfort. In recent history however, self-help manuals and a proliferation of materials that reflect our culture’s increased comfort with self disclosure provide rich materials for addressing each adolescent’s specific life situation. At Paradigm Malibu, Biblio Therapy is often times used to assist teens in building confidence and self-esteem. It is also used to normalize a young person’s world by offering coping skills, reducing feelings of being singularly different, reinforcing creativity, and enhancing problem solving skills. It also provides families with shared experiences and opportunities to examine and discuss family related issues in new and meaningful ways. Learn more here!
We all know that movies can be cathartic. It’s one of the reasons that we are drawn to them. Used in a therapeutic context however, innovative mental health professionals have effectively demonstrated that film can take on a powerful role in the healing process.
One aspect of most movies is that they serve as allegories, in much the same way as do myths, jokes, fables, or dreams which can all be utilized in therapy. The cognitive effect of cinema therapy can be best explained through the most recent theories of learning and creativity, which suggest that we have seven “intelligences.” The more of these intelligences we access, the faster we learn because they employ different methods of information processing. Watching movies can engage all seven of them: the logical (plot), the linguistic (dialogs), the visual-spatial (pictures, colors, symbols), the musical (sounds and music), the interpersonal (storytelling), the kinesthetic (moving), and the intra-psychic (inner guidance).
Mythic stories explain the purpose and place of humans in the grand design. Many films contain a mythical message that reminds us of our virtue and our authentic self. At Paradigm Malibu, we find that “mining the gold” in movies requires that teens uncover their finest, hidden attributes by understanding how they project these virtues on to film heroes and heroines. Identifying with a character can help us to develop inner strength as we recall forgotten inner resources and become aware of the right opportunity for those resources to be applied. In doing so, cinema therapy allows teens to move toward new perspectives or behaviors as well as healing and integration of the total self. Learn more here!
There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that, writing therapy is profoundly impactful for introverted youth and is especially helpful in treating grief, trauma, depression and addiction. At Paradigm Malibu, we utilize this modality in conjunction with narrative therapy.
Writing therapy involves the use of the act of writing and processing the written word as therapy. Opportunities for the use of Impulse Writing, Metaphor exercises and Writing/Listening activities assist teens in identifying and expressing a variety of thoughts and feelings that aid in effective teen treatment. The writing of stories, poetry, prose or journaling may be done on an individual basis or in a group setting.
Narrative therapy holds that our identities are shaped by the accounts of our lives found in our stories or narratives. During the course of treatment we have each teen write their life story. This allows them to explore and share salient events, trajectories, and the possibilities associated with them.
It also encourages teens to reflect upon and connect with their intentions, values, hopes, and commitments. Once values and hopes have been located in specific life events, therapists help to “re-author” or “re-story” a person’s experience. In particular, re-authoring conversations about values and remembering conversations about key influential people are powerful ways for people to reclaim their lives from problems. In the end, narrative conversations help people clarify for themselves an alternate direction in life from that which brought them to treatment. Read more here!
Animal Assisted Therapy
Research has demonstrated that the use of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) as a recovery tool is highly effective with adolescents. The goal of AAT is to increase each teen participant’s emotional and cognitive functioning. The roots of AAT are based in the Biophilia Hypothesis which suggests that our attachment to and interest in animals stems from the strong possibility that human survival was historically, partly dependent on signals from animals in the environment indicating safety or threat. The theory suggests that if we see animals at rest or in a peaceful state, this signals safety, security and feelings of well being on both conscious and subconscious levels. This in turn triggers a state where opportunities for personal change and healing are greatly enhanced.
At Paradigm Malibu, we find that the benefits of AAT include allowing teens to have specific experiences, which are designed to increase awareness of key social communication factors that effect relationships. Our experiences also suggest that it provides uniquely clear feedback on the impact each adolescent’s behaviors have on others. Issues ranging from trust to non verbal cues can be easily explored using this modality. In addition, multiple clinical studies demonstrate that the use of AAT effectively decreases feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety. At Paradigm Malibu, all AAT is provided by a Certified Animal Assisted Therapy Specialist. Learn more about Paradigm’s Animal Assisted Therapies here.