As teenagers explore their independence, they push limits and take risks. Often times, adolescents tend to be moody, dramatic, self-centered, and emotionally needy. Until recently, researchers attributed this impulsive and sometimes reckless teenage behavior to hormones. However, research has shown there is more to these types of behaviors. There are several contributors to the ups and downs in an adolescent’s mood and demeanor. It is important to learn how to recognize the difference between typical adolescent drama and moodiness and symptoms of a different type of mental and emotional health problem that requires specific intervention.  

Neurologists discovered in the early 2000s that adolescent brains don’t reach full maturity until their mid to late 20s, especially in men. As adolescents get older, a white matter called myelin wraps around the brain in a process called, myelination. Myelination “strengthens and accelerates the communication between brain regions and underlies a person’s basic rawpixel-668371-unsplashlearning abilities.” This process starts in the back of the brain and ends in the prefrontal cortex, the conductor of the brain.  The prefrontal cortex has many functions, which include emotional regulation, impulse-control, and decision making.

These findings make it easier to digest why 70% of mental illnesses, like anxiety and mood disorders, appear in later adolescence and young adulthood. 

Parents of children with neurodiverse disorders like ADHD and autism often times have spent tens of thousands of dollars on psychotherapy. testing and assessments, and medications for their child. The complexities of treating the primary diagnosis of ADD, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and other neurodiversities coupled with treatment for a secondary diagnosis of mood and behavioral disorders necessitate increased time and money spent in therapy. Treatment becomes more difficult in further combination with child and adolescent development and the ever-changing needs of these kids.

Individual therapy can be effective for some youth as they naturally learn mood and behavior stability. But for others, individual therapy is not always as effective.

When Individual Therapy Alone Isn't Enough 

Teens can see tremendous results from individual therapy sessions. But not all teens are equal. A 60-minute session, once a week, is not always enough for teens with compounding mental, emotional and behavioral health problems such as, ADD/ADHD, mood dysregulation, and parental relationship problems.  

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The clients Equinox Counseling & Wellness Center work with require a more specialized approach. It is difficult to meet the needs of many youth in traditional therapy format of meeting once a week. Treatment at Equinox is centered around frequency, intensity, and duration. We have learned that finding opportunities to practice skills in various environments focusing on accountability to multiple relationships, problem solving in different situations, and increasing overall feelings of confidence and competence will create sustainable positive change for not only the teen, but for the family as well.

Continuum Of Care

Many parents who have sought care for their teen have tried everything from individual therapy, to group therapy, parent support, medications, testing, and inpatient services, such as, hospitalization or residential programs.  After trying all these methods, parents and teens continue to struggle with integration and sustainability. That is not to say these services are ineffective, rather, they may not be the right solution for everyone.

Equinox Counseling and Wellness Center provides an alternative option in the continuum of mental health care services available to families.  Our intensive treatment program fills a gap in mental health services by providing an intensive level of family support in an outpatient setting.  We work with families in our treatment center, in their homes, school environments, and in the community to provide the comprehensive support youth and families need to achieve lasting results.

When To Seek Additional Care

It is time to seek additional treatment when a teen is engaging in high-risk, self-destructive behaviors which have increased family conflict to a toxic level and traditional avenues of therapy are not providing enough support to de-escalate the problem. When the problems have escalated to needing intensive treatment, families benefit from a team-based approach. Oftentimes, family level impact is profound, requiring a multi-systemic approach to family level healing. 

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Gaining Stability Through A Comprehensive Approach

Equinox Counseling & Wellness Center can step in to provide comprehensive and evidence-based care when individual therapy is no longer enough support for teens and their families.  Our extensive background in residential treatment, psychiatric hospitals, wilderness therapy, and individual practices provides us with a unique and in-depth knowledge of the many therapeutic and clinical treatment options available to families. At Equinox, we support your son or daughter through our comprehensive treatment model so you, your child, and your family can heal.  

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