• Residential Treatment Center for Teens 14-17

Trauma

Therapy for Trauma in Teens: Sleep Could Be Critical for Processing

Therapy for Trauma in Teens: Sleep Could Be Critical for Processing 150 150 se_admin

Sleep—it’s the fuel for our brains. In our society, many people view sleep as a waste of time or something that’s a tedious task, but that’s incredibly incorrect. During sleep, we’re able to process intense emotions, figure out issues, review new information, and give our brains time to reboot. Recently, a study highlighted the possible importance of sleep for working through traumatic experiences. As a program that offers therapy for trauma in teens, we understand the critical role sleep plays in helping a teen work through challenges.

Teens and Trauma

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: two-thirds of children have reported experiencing a traumatic event before the age of sixteen. This could include: psychological or physical abuse, community or school violence, witnessing or experiencing domestic violence, natural disasters, a sudden loss of a loved one, military family-related stressors such as deployment or injury, neglect, and serious accidents or life-threatening illnesses. Traumatic stress may present differently in children than adults, and can even vary from young children to older children. Middle and high school students experiencing traumatic stress may exhibit signs such as: 

  • Feel depressed or alone
  • Develop eating disorders or self-harming behaviors
  • Begin abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Become involved in risky sexual behavior

Teens who are experiencing symptoms from traumatic stress may also face additional challenges because they are in a unique stage of development. As their brains continue to grow and their prefrontal cortex develops, they may not yet have the ability to process their trauma in a healthy way. This is why creating healthy habits around things like eating, exercise, and sleep are an important part of helping their brain continue to develop during the teen years. 

The Power of Sleep

Research has shown that, in general, sleep helps us make sense of emotions. Sleep plays a key role in encoding information based on experiences from the day, making sleep critical for preserving memories. And emotional memories are unique because of the way they activate the amygdala, the brain’s emotional core. We already know that with a lack of sleep, humans tend to struggle to do the simplest of tasks and can even become a risk to ourselves. Those hours spent with our eyes closed aren’t just used for rest, they’re used to refresh our entire bodies–and they could actually be essential for processing trauma as well.

In a new study conducted by the Department of Psychology at the University of Zurich and the Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich, researchers looked into whether catching some shuteye within the first 24 hours after a traumatic experience helped or not. To do this, they showed individuals a very traumatic video and sought to see whether sleep impacted the influence of the video or not. The first author of the study, Birgit Kleim, explained their results:

“Our results reveal that people who slept after the film had fewer and less distressing recurring emotional memories than those who were awake. This supports the assumption that sleep may have a protective effect in the aftermath of traumatic experiences.”

The researchers believe this is because sleep can help separate the fear associated with the experience from the memory, making it easier to process. They also think sleep provides context and understanding on a level we don’t fully understand yet. Now, one night of rest after a traumatic experience isn’t going to make it go away, but it seems like it’s definitely an early prevention technique that needs to be looked into.

A 2018 study with children 8-11 found that children who slept after being shown negative pictures showed a smaller emotional response in late positive potential (LPP). LPP fires up when the brain is processing emotion, and often large spikes occur when those emotions are negative. This research suggests that sleep helps with both crystallizing emotional information – and with controlling how it makes us feel. And this effect works quickly.

Nap or a Full Night’s Sleep?

Rapid eye movement is usually the sleep we fall into during a full night’s rest sleep. REM is associated with emotional memories, and more REM sleep makes people better at assessing others’ emotional intentions and recalling emotional stories. One theory relates to the absence of the stress hormone noradrenaline during REM sleep. Temporarily relieved of this hormone, the brain may use the time to process memories without the stress. 

Slow-wave sleep (SWS) is the first phase of sleep that consolidates memories and is especially good for processing neutral memories. Naps mostly consist of non-REM sleep. A 2018 paper appears to be the first to show that naps, and not just overnight sleep, contribute to emotional memory processing in children. Without a nap, children showed a bias toward emotional faces. With a nap, they responded similarly to neutral stimuli as they did to emotional stimuli. While older adults will benefit more from REM sleep, younger adults and children may benefit from both REM and SWS. 

Residential Treatment for Trauma

Dealing with trauma can be challenging and even isolating for teens. They may feel that their parents do not understand their struggles and that their friends could never relate or will think they’re “weird” or “damaged” if they talk to them about the trauma symptoms they’re experiencing. Because of this, many teens with trauma find themselves withdrawing from support systems instead of reaching out for help. This is where a residential treatment center that specializes in trauma can be incredibly beneficial for teens. As a program that offers therapy for trauma in teens, we strive to promote healthy living in our students. This includes a good 8 hours of sleep a night because we understand the importance of rest for the brain and the therapeutic process.

At Solstice East, the term “trauma” is frequently used to describe a broad spectrum of personal challenges. As one of the top trauma treatment centers, cutting-edge neurological research has helped us to better understand the impact of trauma on a developing brain and has driven a greater understanding of the most effective methods that can be implemented in its treatment. We believe that a holistic approach is an effective way to help young women truly heal from trauma. Instead of focusing on one specific “problem” area or issue, we treat the entire person (mind, body, and spirit). It is our belief that cutting-edge and evidence-based therapeutic approaches such as EMDR, neurofeedback, somatic experiencing, Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and gender-specific addictions treatment are essential to your daughter’s healing process.

Cutting-edge neuroscientific research has identified regulation as the key element found in healthy, healing relationships. When regulated, our neurological functions can be centralized in the pre-frontal cortex– the part of the brain involved in rational decision-making.  When dysregulated, our neurological functions are more likely found in the limbic system, the midbrain, or even all the way back in the brain stem.

When stuck in these less rational parts of the brain we tend to display poor emotional boundaries, higher levels of emotional reactivity, and are unable to attune to our own needs—let alone the needs of others. Moments of relational interaction that lack attunement are much more likely to cause damage in a relationship. We work on this through our relationship therapy tactics. Our programming is designed around a relationship-based approach to healing from trauma. While students are attending Solstice East they will build relationships with peers and staff members.We have found that these relationships are essential to helping your daughter heal from her trauma and build a strong and empowered identity.

At Solstice East, we help our students and families learn to regulate their emotions through the modalities of mindfulness, relationship therapy, equine-assisted psychotherapy, adventure therapies, and art-based therapies. We emphasize this teaching by training every member of our staff on how to self-regulate, and how to help a teenager develop her own self-regulation skills. We provide our team with opportunities to implement regulation skills in real-life settings to increase their ability to provide attunement, safety, and predictability while in-relationship with your daughter.

Solstice East offers therapy for trauma in teens

Success in working with young women requires specific and unique areas of emphasis and sensitivity to how they respond to various approaches to change. As one of the best residential treatment centers, we have created a culture and approach specifically developed to fit the distinctive needs of teenage girls. Whether it is our specifically designed equine approach and addictions programs, or the clinical specialization and collaboration of our therapists, Solstice East is uniquely qualified to address the complex needs of girls in need of healing and growth.

Solstice East is an all-girls residential treatment center that offers therapy for trauma in teens, ages 14 to 18. Our girls often grapple with depression, PTSD, low self-esteem, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. In our therapy for trauma in teens, we strive to help students develop healthy habits and lead themselves back onto a path of success and happiness.

For more information about how our therapy for trauma in teens at Solstice East can help your daughter, please contact us at 828-484-9946.

when does grief become unhealthy

Trauma Treatment Center for Teens: When Grief Becomes Unhealthy

Trauma Treatment Center for Teens: When Grief Becomes Unhealthy 2560 1707 se_admin

Grief–we all feel it at some point in our lives, but for some, it’s experienced far too early on. The first experience of grief can be through the loss of a friendship or the death of a pet or a grandparent. As a trauma treatment center for teens, we know that grief is a natural response to loss, most frequently having to deal with the death of a loved one–but this natural response can run out of control. It can fill an individual with unrelenting sadness and hopelessness, essentially making daily life a struggle. Untreated, this type of grief can ruin a person’s life–which is why it is so critical to understand what is normal and what is not when it comes to grief.

What can cause grief?

When you think of grief, what comes to mind? For most people, they think of losing a loved one–this is the most frequent cause of grief. There are other causes, though. Grief can arise when an individual or a loved one of the individual is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Even the loss of a relationship or friendship can trigger strong feelings of grief.

Even subtle losses in life can trigger a sense of grief. For example, a young adult may feel grief after moving away from home, graduating from college, or even experiencing a career change. Whatever their loss, that grief is a personal thing. If that person, animal, relationship, or circumstance they lost was significant to them, it is normal to grieve that loss. There is no reason to feel ashamed of those feelings of grief. Sometimes people experiencing what they consider to be “smaller” losses may feel like they do not have the same right to grieve as people who have suffered larger tragedies. But the reality is that whatever your loss, you are allowed to have your feelings. 

For adolescents, grief can be much different than in adults. Adults have had the time and experience to build up defenses and coping methods for grief–teenagers haven’t. In our trauma treatment center for teens, we know this can make the trauma of grief much more potent and unstable, which is why we treat it.

Dealing with Grief

Children and teens may experience grief differently than adults. They may be crying one moment, then enjoying an activity the next. But just as grief affects adults in different ways, each young person will have their own way of processing their grief. They may use distractions to keep from feeling overwhelmed, or they may experience episodes of depression, anxiety, or even outbursts of anger. 

When it comes to processing feelings of grief, encourage your teen to express their feelings. Emotions may feel tangled or confused, but give your daughter the space she needs to express whatever emotions may come up. Remind her that there is no right or wrong way to grieve a loss. She may have questions, so do your best to answer her questions honestly and clearly. You may not have all the answers, and that is OK. What matters the most is that your daughter knows that you are there for her during this difficult time. 

It can also be helpful to participate in the rituals that can provide comfort or closure. In the circumstance of a death, memorial services, funerals, or other traditions can help your daughter by being in the presence of other people who knew their loved one. These traditions can be a way to honor the person that they have lost. 

Grief can feel very lonely, even if they have loved ones around. Sharing their sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help. A support group can be a beneficial tool to support your teen in their grief. The pain of grief can cause them to want to withdraw from others and isolate. But having the face-to-face support of other people is vital to healing from loss. 

It is also important to remind your daughter that dealing with grief will take time. Healing happens gradually and it cannot be forced or hurried. There is no “normal” timeline for healing from grief. For some people, they may feel better after a few weeks or months. For others, it may take years to begin to process that grief. Whatever she is experiencing with grief, help your daughter be patient with herself and the process. 

The difference between normal and harmful grief

As said before, grief is a normal, human response to loss. We feel grief when we’ve lost opportunities, relationships, friendships, and loved ones. It’s when that grief runs free with an uncontrollable force that it becomes an issue. 

Grief is something that is difficult to understand until you experience it. You can describe grief to someone, but experiencing it first hand is something completely different. This is why grief can be so challenging, and potentially traumatizing, for young adults. These big emotions can be devastating if they are not equipped with the proper coping methods. Grief can easily go from normal to extremely destructive. Teens who are experiencing harmful grief may experience symptoms such as:

  • Sleep disturbance: Teens who are experiencing harmful grief may experience sleep disturbances. This can manifest as lack of sleep or insomnia. Or excessive sleep, using sleep to avoid dealing with the pain of their emotions. 
  • Anger: Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, they may feel angry and resentful. If they lost a loved one, they may be angry with themself, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning them. They may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to them.
  • Guilt: They may feel responsible somehow, or guilty about whatever emotions they are feeling in their grief or what they think they should have or should not have done or said.
  • Fear: A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. They may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. They may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about their own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities they now face alone.
  • Isolation: Teens experiencing grief may begin to isolate themselves from family or friends. It could be because they don’t believe that anyone else can understand what they are going through. It could be because their peers feel awkward around them because they don’t know how to talk about their loss. It could also be that the feelings of grief feel too overwhelming and they feel that talking to other people about it is too painful. 

There may also be physical symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or gain, and aches and pains. When the symptoms of their grief begin to get in the way of daily life and throw an individual into a deep, deep depression, help should be sought out. 

If you believe your daughter is struggling with grief, trauma, or any other mental health issue, it’s critical to seek out help as soon as possible. Early intervention and treatment is the key to success in these cases–don’t wait until it’s too late.

How a Trauma Treatment Center Can Help

Young women who are dealing with harmful grief may benefit from a residential treatment program that specializes in dealing with trauma. A residential treatment center provides a unique combination of therapeutic techniques stemming from both traditional and holistic mental health treatments that are gender and age-specific. Here they will work with clinical professionals who can help them build the coping mechanisms they need to move through their grief and process it in a healthy way. 

As one of the leading trauma treatment programs for girls, programming is designed around a relationship-based approach to healing from trauma. While your daughter is attending Solstice East she will build relationships with peers and staff members. We have found that these relationships are essential to helping your daughter heal from her trauma and build a strong and empowered identity.

Solstice East supports a therapeutic culture where acceptance, change, and growth is recognized and embraced. Our approach employs the guidance of The Hero’s Journey and its themes, providing a foundation for our students to advance victoriously and grow closer to internal harmony. Solstice East students embark on a therapeutic journey that teaches inner growth and understanding and fosters positive relationships. Our groundbreaking approach allows our students to heal while compiling skills and practices to best serve them throughout their life journey.

Solstice East for Your Daughter

Solstice East is a trauma treatment center for teens–specifically for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls are often grappling with depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. In our trauma treatment center for teens, we strive to help students develop healthy habits and lead themselves back onto a path of success and happiness.

For more information about how our trauma treatment center for teens at Solstice East can help your daughter, please contact us at 828-484-9946.

ptsd in children and teens

PTSD In Teenagers: How You Can Help Your Daughter

PTSD In Teenagers: How You Can Help Your Daughter 640 426 se_admin

Childhood trauma can have a profound impact on adolescent’s development, resulting in negative effects on physical growth, psychological development, mental health, and in severe cases, it can be the catalyst for developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Experiencing childhood trauma has become more widespread with many research studies claiming that over 50% of teens have been exposed to trauma at some point in their lives.

A 2013 research study of 6,483 teens found that 61% of teens had been exposed to at least one potentially traumatic event in their lifetime, including interpersonal violence such as rape, physical abuse, or domestic violence, injuries, natural disasters, or the death of a close family member. Of these teens, 19% had experienced 3 or more of these traumatic events, and nearly 5% had experienced PTSD under the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. Another study indicates that that as many as 16% of adolescents exposed to trauma may develop PTSD.

Research has shown that PTSD can increase vulnerability to psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, as well as several physical problems such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, and cancer, and cognitive problems such as brain development and emotional attachment. Because of the potential damages of PTSD, it’s essential to understand the causes of PTSD, recognize its symptoms and impacts, and get your teen treatment as soon as possible to aid in her recovery.

Causes of PTSD in teens

Post-traumatic stress disorder is defined as a condition brought on by exposure to a traumatic event. As discussed, the majority of children will experience some type of traumatic event in their lifetime, but children with PTSD don’t bounce back from this trauma. Instead, they develop harmful behavioral patterns that can be debilitative without treatment.

There are many risk factors associated with the likelihood of developing PTSD as a teenager. Research indicates that the two groups of adolescents that are most likely to have been exposed to trauma in their lifetime are those who did not have both biological parents in the home and those who had pre-existing mental and behavioral disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.

In a study that found 4.5% of teens had experienced PTSD in their lifetimes, there were many risk factors. One of the greatest risk factors was being a female; females had a 7.3 percent lifetime prevalence of PTSD compared to only 2.2 percent of males. Another risk factor included interpersonal violence as PTSD was found in 39% of teens who had been raped and 25% of teens who had been physically abused by a caregiver. Lastly, those who had underlying mood disorders such as anxiety and depression were also more likely to be at risk for developing PTSD.

Beyond risk factors, there are many known causes for developing PTSD in children and adolescents. The causes can be broken up into two categories: interpersonal traumas and non-interpersonal traumas. Interpersonal trauma includes events such as violent assaults, rape, physical or sexual abuse, school or neighborhood shootings, and military combat.

A 2020 study indicates the link between interpersonal traumas and PTSD can be explained by social information processing theory. Those who have experienced violent trauma are predisposed to hostile attribution bias which increases the perception of threats and causes heightened stress reactivity. Simply put, those who experience violence are more likely to perceive violence in all settings which can cause them to relive their traumas and be fearful of various environments.

The other type of trauma that can result in PTSD is non-interpersonal trauma and this includes events such as car accidents, natural disasters, being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, and going through the death of a loved one. A 2019 study conducted on the impacts of a 2008 earthquake found that up to 10% of children exposed to the earthquake had developed PTSD, and that their PTSD symptoms were heightened around the anniversary of the earthquake each year.

Even though PTSD can develop through various types of trauma, there are some similar symptoms you can look for if you’re concerned your daughter is struggling with post traumatic stress disorder.

Symptoms and impacts of PTSD on teens

For teens struggling with PTSD, they often feel like they are unable to escape the impact of the trauma they have experienced. Constant reminders of the trauma they went through can make it extremely challenging to go through day-to-day life, especially if they are unable to express what they are feeling to trusted adults. Here are some common symptoms to look for in teens experiencing PTSD:

  • Avoidance of situations – Teens with PTSD will often avoid situations, environments, and people that could cause them to remember the trauma they’ve experienced. They may also avoid talking about what happened so they don’t have to be reminded of it.
  • Reliving the trauma – Those experiencing PTSD will often have intense nightmares, flashbacks, or disturbing mental images about the trauma. Wanting to avoid the nightmares can also lead to a disruption in their sleeping patterns or cause insomnia
  • Anxiety – People with PTSD can experience extreme anxiety or nervousness. This can take the form of being easily startled, on edge, jumpy, irritable, or tense. This can be brought on by high levels of stress and cortisol in the body.
  • Developmental Regression – Some children who experience PTSD may regress to earlier, more childlike behaviors. This can include wetting the bed, becoming overly clingy to parents, developing separation anxiety, or even forgetting how to speak.
  • Emotional numbness – Teens struggling with past trauma, often feel numb and detached from the people and events in their lives. This detachment can also cause teens to view the world more negatively and hinder their ability to trust anyone. Research indicates this is because the brain overproduces some hormones that numb the senses during stress.
  • Acting impulsively – Teens with PTSD are likely to display self-destructive behavior and guilt. This could be in the form of substance use and abuse, engaging in sexual behavior, or engaging in situations that could put themselves and others in harm’s way.

In addition to the symptoms teens may display, there are many physical, mental, social and emotional impacts that adolescents with PTSD can experience. Due to the hypervigilance, change in sleeping patterns, and increased stress that individuals with PTSD experience, they can also experience negative physical health impacts. Common effects include back pain, migraines, stomachaches, muscle tension, and other body aches. A 2015 study found that childhood trauma can even cause long term changes in their body’s immune functioning which can cause potentially life threatening conditions such as type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

PTSD in adolescents can also have extremely adverse impacts socially and emotionally. A 2017 study found that those who had experienced PTSD and trauma were likely to misidentify sad and angry faces as fearful. Understanding and recognizing facial expressions is crucial for social functioning and communicating emotions, so this impairment can hurt an individual’s ability to connect with others and can be indicative of low empathy and impaired affective bonding.

Sometimes PTSD can occur in a particularly severe form called Complex PTSD. This type of PTSD is most commonly found in those who have experienced repeated sexual abuse in childhood. A study on Complex PTSD found that in combination with reliving the trauma, these individuals undergo massive personality changes that cause them to struggle with relationships and prohibit them from trusting, developing intimacy, and cultivating a positive sense of self worth.

For children and teens struggling with PTSD, early and consistent intervention can make a world of difference in their healing journey.

How you can help support your daughter through her PTSD

There are many options for treatment if your daughter is experiencing PTSD, and certain types of talk therapy, such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, have been proven to significantly reduce the symptoms of PTSD. There are also many steps you can take at home to help your daughter along her recovery journey. Try these strategies to help your teen with PTSD:

Research the causes and effects of PTSD – It can help to gather as much information as possible about PTSD to determine the root of the cause in your daughter. The more information you have, the more able you will be to provide her with the best course of treatment.

Learn to recognize PTSD episodes – One of the scariest impacts of PTSD on teens is reliving a flashback of the event, in which they feel like they are experiencing the trauma all over again. Knowing what to look for during these episodes can help you understand what is going on, what to expect, and what you can do to help in the moment.

Let them know they are not alone – As many as 16% of girls will experience some sort of PTSD in their lives and it can be helpful to know others have experienced this to help reduce alienation from others. Seeking out a PTSD support group can provide an opportunity to connect with others who have experienced similar situations.

Learn triggers – Many PTSD episodes are triggered by events, images, and sounds that remind teens of the original trauma they experienced. By knowing these triggers, you can help your teens avoid the kinds of situations that might cause a PTSD episode.

If your teen is struggling with childhood trauma and PTSD, a residential program like Solstice East, can provide her the holistic and restorative therapy she needs to heal.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls ages 14-17 that specializes in treating trauma. We utilize cutting edge neurological research to help us better understand the impact of trauma on the developing brain and to implement the most effective methods for its treatment. We believe that a holistic approach is an effective way to help young women truly heal from trauma.

Instead of focusing on one specific problem area or issue, we treat the entire person mind, body, and spirit. We believe that evidence based therapeutic techniques such as EMDR, neurofeedback, somatic experiencing, Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and gender specific treatment are essential to your daughter’s healing process.For more information about how Solstice East can help, please call 828-484-9946.

what causes eating disorders in teenage girls

How Childhood Trauma Can Lead to Eating Disorders

How Childhood Trauma Can Lead to Eating Disorders 2560 1707 se_admin

Many girls struggle with body image issues as they enter adolescence. They become acutely aware of how they are perceived. And with technology today, they have the internet at their fingertips so that they can constantly compare themselves to their peers and celebrities. This can feel overwhelming for any young girl dealing with body image issues, but for girls who have experienced childhood trauma, the risk of eating disorders is substantially increased.

Trauma and Eating Disorders

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 3.8% percent of girls aged 13-18 will experience an eating disorder. These eating disorders included anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Contrary to what many people may think, eating disorders are rarely about food. Some young women may be feeling out of control and by restricting their food, they are controlling the one thing they can. For others, the root of the eating disorder may be unresolved trauma.

The National Eating Disorder Association states: “Approximately one-third of women with bulimia, 20% with binge eating disorder and 11.8% with non-bulimic/non-binge eating disorders met criteria for lifetime PTSD. Overall, the most significant finding was that rates of eating disorders were generally higher in people who experienced trauma and PTSD.” The term childhood trauma encompasses a wide range of distressing experiences a teen may have faced through their youth. It can range from dealing with their parents’ divorce to bullying to physical and emotional abuse. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders share some similar characteristics and they both have high rates of dissociation. Eating disorder behaviors may be a way to distance oneself from disturbing thoughts, emotions, or memories associated with PTSD. For others who binge and purge, there may be a desire to numb the negative feelings by binging and then purging, or getting rid of, all those negative emotions. Even though there is no actual removal of the emotion, the physical sensations can fulfill those emotional compulsions. 

Seeking Treatment

The most important factor in recovery for young women with eating disorders is seeking out treatment. Many teens are embarrassed or ashamed of their disorder and their mental health struggle, so it can be a challenge for them to reach out for help. If you notice your daughter is showing the warning signs of an eating disorder, a residential treatment facility can help. Combining research-based therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing with mindfulness practices and an environment designed to support them, can set her on a path toward recovery.

Solstice East Can Help

The Solstice mission is to support adolescents, and their families, in developing excellence in relationships, influence, character, and health throughout their life journeys. Through relationship-based programming, we help students restore and rebuild healthy, trusting relationships with their families, peers, teachers, and staff.

Solstice East students are highly intelligent and highly sensitive. Our teens are creative and capable, but vulnerable to the pressures of their surroundings. They often experience the world differently through misperceptions and are impacted by issues of anxiety, depression, identity, attachment, mood disorders, and learning disabilities. Solstice East is committed to treating each student through a combination of individual, family, equine, and adventure therapies. For more information please call (855) 672-7058.

adopted child abandonment issues

Adoption & Trauma: How Residential Treatment Can Help

Adoption & Trauma: How Residential Treatment Can Help 2560 1708 se_admin

There is no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to dealing with issues that can come up for adopted children. Each child has different life experiences which can play a role in their development in adolescence. And while adoption has both positive and negative effects on a child, here we will focus on the effects of trauma and how parents can best support their adopted children. 

Adoption and Trauma

Every adoption involves some sort of loss for the adoptee. Whether they were adopted as an infant or an older child, an adoptee undergoes a separation from biological parents that will impact the rest of their life. Exactly how much will vary from person to person. When this trauma is not grieved or processed properly, issues for the adoptee can emerge. There can be a sense of loss that can be triggered and manifest in many different ways. For some, it can be a feeling of depression, for others, it can be acting out or showing aggression. 

Teens who have experienced trauma may also experience a heightened level of emotional dysregulation at a higher frequency than their peers. This may lead to seeking any number of unhealthy coping mechanisms in an attempt to gain relief from their dysregulated state.

The Benefits of a Residential Program

Teens who are struggling with trauma surrounding their adoption may benefit from a structured and supportive environment, such as a residential program. A residential program will allow them to work with a therapist both individually, in a group with peers who have similar issues, and with their family to create healthier relationships. It is important for adopted teens to address the feelings that come up around the trauma of adoption. Maybe they feel abandoned or unworthy of love. Instead of hiding or suppressing those feelings, a therapeutic program gives them the space to begin to process those feelings. 

A well-known and empirically supported approach to regulation is mindfulness. Mindfulness involves an awareness of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations and environment. When we are mindful, we pay attention to our experiences and practice a non-judgmental acceptance of them. Mindfulness has been shown to be an effective way to regulate thoughts and emotions, and therefore behaviors. 

Adopted teens may also work through their trauma by learning more about their adoption story. Sometimes adoptive parents feel uncomfortable speaking to their children about their adoption story, or they may feel threatened that their child will want to seek out their biological parents. Adoptive parents can help their child work through the trauma and loss by being open to answering questions and being open about their adoption story. A clinician in a residential program can help facilitate these conversations to make sure that everyone in the family is feeling secure and understood. 

Solstice East Can Help

As one of the leading trauma treatment programs for girls, programming is designed around a relationship-based approach to healing from trauma. While your daughter is attending Solstice East she will build relationships with peers and staff members. We have found that these relationships are essential to helping your daughter heal from her trauma and build a strong and empowered identity. 

EMDR therapy

The Power of Using EMDR Therapy for Processing Trauma

The Power of Using EMDR Therapy for Processing Trauma 2560 1707 se_admin

When we hear the word “therapy” many people’s minds go to laying on a couch and talking through their feelings. The reality is that there are many different forms of therapy from family therapy to Cognitive Behavior Therapy. For teens processing trauma, whether that is from being bullied in school or experiencing physical harm, some therapies may be more effective than others. And while it can be difficult to find the right therapy for your teen who has experienced trauma, one practice that can be incredibly beneficial is EMDR.

What is EMDR?

EMDR or Eye Motion Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. EMDR works by stimulating the brain in ways that lead it to process unprocessed or unhealed memories, leading to a natural restoration and adaptive resolution, decreased emotional charge and linkage to positive memory networks.

During an EMDR session, your therapist will move their finger back and forth in front of your face and ask you to track the motion with your eyes. At the same time, the therapist will ask you to recall a traumatic event. This will include the emotions and body sensations that go along with it. Gradually, your therapist will guide you to shift your thoughts to more pleasant ones, they may use finger movements, hand or toe tapping, or musical tones. 

People who use the technique believe that EMDR can weaken the effect of negative emotions. Before and after each EMDR treatment, your therapist will ask you to rate your level of distress. The hope is that your traumatic memories will become less disabling.

How Can EMDR Help Teens with Trauma

EMDR can help teens who have experienced trauma address and work through those memories, sensations, and emotions and resume normal, adaptive, and healthy processing. An experience that may have triggered a negative response may no longer affect them the way it used to after EMDR treatment. The hope is that those difficult experiences will likely become less upsetting.

Another benefit of EMDR is that it is rooted in mindfulness and nonjudgmental awareness that can lead to transformative healing. It is about becoming aware of the reactions around a traumatic memory and learning how to redirect those thought patterns. After a successful course of EMDR therapy, trauma survivors can learn to approach situations with equanimity and flexibility, yet appropriate caution.

Solstice East Can Help

The Solstice mission is to support adolescents, and their families, in developing excellence in relationships, influence, character, and health throughout their life journeys. Through relationship-based programming, we help students restore and rebuild healthy, trusting relationships with their families, peers, teachers, and staff. 

We believe that a holistic approach is an effective way to help young women truly heal from trauma.  Instead of focusing on one specific “problem” area or issue, we treat the entire person (mind, body and spirit). It is our belief that cutting-edge and evidence-based therapeutic approaches such as EMDR, neurofeedback, somatic experiencing, Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and gender-specific addictions treatment are essential to your daughter’s healing process. For more information please call (828) 471-0221.

trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy

How Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Help Teens

How Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Help Teens 2560 1707 se_admin

Trauma is the experience of severe psychological distress following any terrible or life-threatening event. Many teens experience some sort of trauma in our lives. It can be anything from parents getting divorced to experiencing a natural disaster. Psychology Today tells us that people who have experienced trauma “may develop emotional disturbances such as extreme anxiety, anger, sadness, survivor’s guilt, or PTSD. They may experience ongoing problems with sleep or physical pain, encounter turbulence in their personal and professional relationships, and feel a diminished sense of self-worth due to the overwhelming amount of stress.” If you notice your teen struggling with similar symptoms, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) can help.

What is TF-CBT?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts by interrogating and uprooting negative or irrational beliefs. A short-term intervention that generally lasts anywhere from eight to 25 sessions, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy addresses the specific emotional and mental health needs of children, adolescents, adult survivors, and families who are struggling to overcome the destructive effects of early trauma. 

How TF-CBT Can Help Teens

Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is designed to create a supportive atmosphere where children and adolescents are made comfortable enough to discuss their traumatic experience. TF-CBT encourages parents and their adolescents to work together to create a “therapeutic” alliance between themselves and their therapist. This positive support can help teens disrupt those negative or irrational beliefs. TF-CBT can also be experiential. By experiencing situations that once triggered post-traumatic responses, teens can overcome their trauma and begin the path to healing. TF-CBT can be paired with experiential therapies such as adventure or equine therapy.

How Do I Help My Teen Receive TF-CBT?

A residential treatment center (RTC) like Solstice East can help your daughter begin to treat her trauma with TF-CBT. The Solstice mission is to support adolescents, and their families, in developing excellence in relationships, influence, character, and health throughout their life journeys. Through relationship-based programming, we help students restore and rebuild healthy, trusting relationships with their families, peers, teachers, and staff. To learn more please click here, or call (855) 672-7058.

complex trauma in teens

What’s the Difference Between PTSD and Complex Trauma in Teens?

What’s the Difference Between PTSD and Complex Trauma in Teens? 613 437 se_admin

As a society, we are making progress in understanding the effects of PTSD and ways to internally heal from experiencing traumatic events. However, we know a lot less about how trauma compounds over time and the effect it has on relationships. Some psychologists propose that there is a difference between the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex PTSD, which suggests that a different treatment approach may be necessary for individuals who have experienced complex trauma. 

What is Complex Trauma?

It is important to note that complex trauma, as compared to simple trauma, does not mean that the type of event one experienced was more distressing or shocking. In fact, Complex-PTSD is closely related to the events and symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. The main difference is that PTSD is generally related to a single event or series of events within a short period of time, while complex PTSD is related to a series of events that repeatedly occurred over an extended period of time. PTSD is more likely to be associated with flashbacks of a particular event, vulnerability to specific triggers, or difficulty coping with a major life transition, while symptoms of Complex PTSD are more pervasive and can be generalized to any number of stressful situations. Individuals who have experienced complex trauma are more likely to live in a constant state of anxiety or, conversely, may have trouble distinguishing red flags based on normalizing their experiences.

Some examples of causes of complex trauma may stem from:

  • Experiencing childhood neglect
  • Experiencing physical or sexual abuse early in life
  • Frequent changes of caregivers, such as while in the foster care system or being adopted
  • Being targeted by multiple perpetrators, such as bullying or recurring sexual assault

How Are the Symptoms Different From PTSD?

In addition to the standard symptoms of PTSD, an individual with complex PTSD may also experience:

  • A persistently negative self-view. They are more likely to internalize that trauma was their fault and feel ashamed to discuss details. It is harder for them to identify their strengths based on a lack of positive core memories.
  • Fixed negative worldview. Based on repeated trauma, they are more likely to believe they have evidence that the world is a negative place or to have lost faith in previously held beliefs.
  • Detachment from trauma. It is not uncommon for a person to dissociate from their emotions and physical sensations. Some may lose the memory of the events or chunks of their lives in order to separate themselves from what happened and focus on survival.
  • Preoccupation with people involved in the trauma. While one of the features of PTSD is a fixation on the event itself, people with complex trauma are more likely to focus on the people involved and are more likely to be attached to their abusers, witnesses, or others who experienced the same thing by the same person.

How Does Complex Trauma Affect Relationships with Others?

People with C-PTSD are more likely to struggle with maintaining a support system due to difficulties trusting others and interacting with others. As a result, they are at an increased risk of re-experiencing relational trauma throughout their lifetime based on poor boundaries and security in relationships.

They are also more likely to be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) based on inconsistencies in relationships. Key differences include a fear of abandonment that is specific to BPD and a more stable sense of self-identity seen in C-PTSD that is not seen as consistently with BPD. 

While teenagers who have experienced complex trauma are more likely to avoid relationships and push away social support, developing healthy relationships is one of the primary ways they can begin to change their worldview and sense of self. Relationship-based therapy may be more effective for teens with C-PTSD than reprocessing traumatic events, especially due to memory issues and the length of their trauma histories. 

Relationship-based therapy takes a client-centered approach to talking about emotions and behaviors in order to validate one’s internal experience and fearful worldview. Rather than focusing on past events, therapists work with teens to help them analyze their current relationships and patterns/dynamics that are playing out. From there, they can begin to discuss whether these patterns are helpful or hurtful when it comes to building trust and security in relationships and suggest alternatives. The goal of relationship-based therapy is to help individuals become less avoidant of relationships and practice setting boundaries based on their personal wants and needs.

Solstice East Can Help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 who are reclaiming their sense of self after experiencing traumatic events, depression, and addictive behaviors. We help young women heal from emotional pain by reintegrating healthy habits into their lives. Students learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate with others. Through adventure activities and creative expression, we encourage girls to explore their passions and strengths and empower them to make healthy choices.

For more information about how we help girls cope with trauma, call 828-484-9946.

dialectical behavioral therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Used in Experiential Groups

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Used in Experiential Groups 1696 2560 se_admin

It’s no surprise that teens often struggle with actively participating in group therapy sessions, as it is difficult for them to talk about their feelings. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a successful model, often used in group therapy, that offers a variety of strategies to help teens cope. Students are encouraged to use diary cards to remind them of how they’ve used these skills throughout the week, however, it is harder to remember to apply them in the moment. Solstice East offers a weekly Experiential DBT group that is focused on team-building initiatives to encourage teens to practice these skills in action.

What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a type of therapy used to help clients manage self-destructive behaviors, problematic relational patterns, and overwhelming emotions. It is based on the concept that a person’s actions make sense within the context of their personal experiences without necessarily agreeing that they are the best approach to solving the problem. Each area includes a number of skills that help teens come up with an action plan when facing a difficult situation.

  • Emotion Regulation. Students learn to determine when and why they develop overwhelming emotions and how to better manage those emotions.
  • Distress Tolerance. These skills focus on managing highly upsetting, distressful situations with effectiveness and resilience. 
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness. These skills help students express their beliefs and feelings effectively.  We teach students how to set limits, be assertive, and problem-solve to develop meaningful relationships.
  • Mindfulness. Students learn to stay “in the moment”, become more aware, and focus less on the negatives and more on the positives.  

 

 

Specialty Group Options

“Typically, our specialty groups are centered around discussion topics and students are divided into groups based on their individual needs. While this personalized approach is beneficial for teens, students who struggle with learning differences and social communication benefit from a more hands-on approach that helps them understand the value of psychoeducation in their everyday lives,” explains Adventure Therapy Specialist Dan Horseman. 

For this reason, some of our specialty groups are more interactive to encourage students to engage. We also integrate elements of group therapy into off-campus outings and adventure activities by encouraging teens to reflect on their experiences. Group therapy helps students build trust with each other and develop closer bonds.

Examples of specialty groups offered at Solstice East include:

  • Adoption
  • Grief and loss
  • Trauma
  • Body image
  • Depression
  • Substance Abuse
  • Equine Therapy
  • Relationship Processing Groups
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT Experiential Group For Every Student

Experiential Specialty Groups involve every team and multiple therapists, which gives teens the opportunity to focus on broader themes, like communication, teamwork, group dynamics, and leadership. 

“We’ll choose experiential activities and pair them with a topic, like healthy boundaries, and give students the opportunity to practice those boundaries in a structured way,” describes Horseman. “We start with psychoeducation about the topic for all the teams and then break up into team-building initiatives. Then, we debrief with students and point out what we have noticed, celebrating successes and encouraging students to practice certain skills.” 

Many students who have made progress in their daily lives are pushed out of their comfort zone whenever they participate in these experiential activities. When deeper patterns in how they respond to situations and how they feel about themselves are revealed, it gives them insight into topics they may want to work through in sessions. Lessons are then integrated into weekly off-campus activities, community service, and adventure camping trips to provide a context for students to apply these skills in real-life settings.

Solstice East Can Help 

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, and addictive behaviors. This program focuses on helping young women heal, recover, and integrate healthy habits into their lives. Students will learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate. Solstice East gives young women the skills and confidence they need to lead happy and healthy lives. We can help your family today!

Contact us at  828-759-5909 to learn more about experiential therapy.

childhood trauma

Why We Screen Every Student for Childhood Trauma

Why We Screen Every Student for Childhood Trauma 2560 1707 se_admin

This year, California’s Surgeon General, Nadine Burke Harris, announced that she wanted to screen every student for Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma before entering school. Through her career, she recognized that there was a strong association between the adversity and trauma her patients experienced and their school functioning. Residential treatment centers acknowledge that addressing childhood trauma is key to helping students thrive in and out of the classroom.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began a study on youth trauma in the late 1990’s, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences, that specified ten categories of stressful or traumatic childhood events. This study showed that sustained stress caused biochemical changes in the brain and increased the risk of developing physical and mental health issues.

“It could be it shows up in tummy aches. Or it’s impulse control and behavior, and we offer a care plan,” explains Burke Harris. “Instead of reacting harshly and punitively, every educator is trained in recognizing these things. Instead of suspending and expelling or saying, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ we say, ‘What happened to you?'”

Examples of childhood trauma:

 

  • Being bullied or socially rejected
  • Divorce of parents
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Adoption
  • Abuse
  • Family history of mental illness or substance abuse

 

 

Assessment Services

When we acknowledge how traumatic events can lead to seeking unhealthy coping mechanisms, we are better able to address the root issues that teens may be experiencing. As trauma can be difficult to disclose to others and, often, can be difficult for teens to recognize, we conduct comprehensive, ongoing assessments that screen every teen for childhood trauma. This includes catastrophic events, considered Big-T Traumas, and experiences that have impacted their relationships and self-esteem called little-t traumas. While we have specific support groups for teens who have experienced traumatic events, our approach is aligned with trauma-informed care for every student. 

Trauma-Focused Therapy

We believe that a holistic approach is an effective way to help young women truly heal from trauma.  Instead of focusing on one specific “problem” area or issue, we treat the entire person (mind, body, and spirit). It is our belief that cutting-edge and evidence-based therapeutic approaches such as EMDR, neurofeedback, somatic experiencing, Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and gender-specific addictions treatment are essential to your daughter’s healing process.

Solstice East Can Help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 who are reclaiming their sense of self after experiencing traumatic events, depression, and addictive behaviors. We help young women heal from emotional pain by reintegrating healthy habits into their lives. Students learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate with others. Through adventure activities and creative expression, we encourage girls to explore their passions and strengths and empower them to make healthy choices.

For more information about how we help girls cope with trauma, call 828-484-9946.