The Ins and Outs of Structural Therapy - Beachside Teen Treatment Center
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The Ins and Outs of Structural Therapy

Notepad | Therapy | Beachside

Therapy in its various forms is necessary for many teens to overcome the battles that they face with mental health issues. It can not only help the recovery process but also enable young people to lead successful productive lives even with their diagnoses.

Unfortunately, the mere word “therapy” comes with its own set of stigmas for both those who require assistance as well as those who deliver the services. Therapists and psychologists are frequently asked, “do you work with crazy people? Or do you have to be nuts to come into your office?” Those who do not understand the benefits of therapy or the reasons why some people may seek counseling may label and even stigmatize structural therapy as hocus pocus, brainwashing, or even magic. While it may be some time before people understand the challenges that those who suffer from mental health issues face, it is important that just because you or a loved one is suffering, does not mean that you are crazy!

Doctors and therapists treat mental health issues just like any other sickness. If a teen breaks his leg, he will see an orthopedist. If a young woman is experiencing headaches, she may go to her pediatrician. If your teen is experiencing symptoms of mental illness, he will go to see a therapist or counselor. There is no distinction in how mental health is treated compared to other illnesses. It is just that the perception by others of the symptoms and how it is treated creates a gap in the mindset of sufferers.

For many teens, the thought that others will think of them as crazy, weak or a failure will prevent them from getting the assistance that they need to overcome and recover from their mental health issues. No matter the symptoms that you may be experiencing, there is a structural therapy program for you. Before we go further into details about the ins and outs of structural therapy, it is critical that you understand the dangers of not getting help for those in need. If you suspect that someone you love is facing mental health issues, it is imperative that you first speak to their primary care physician or pediatrician who will conduct an evaluation and then refer them to a facility and trained professionals like those at Beachside Treatment Center. Mental health issues can be very serious and even life-threatening if left untreated.

Mental health issues, unfortunately, do not simply go away on their own. The stigma associated with them as mentioned earlier, shame and embarrassment even may prevent many teens from getting the treatment that they need. This neglect can lead to other costs to their health such as unexplained pain and illness, homelessness and instability, poor decision-making and violence, victimization, trauma, and unfortunately self-harm and suicide. Mental health illness is not a lack of coping skills as some may surmise or a parenting failure but rather a serious mental illness that needs treatment just like any other sickness or disorder. It is through the support of family and friends and trained professionals like those at Beachside Treatment Center that teens can learn to manage their disorders, obtain coping mechanisms, identify behavioral and thought modifications, understand situational avoidance and a host of other tools to assist them in their daily lives.

Depending on the diagnosis, teens may participate in a variety of structured therapy within their treatment plan. While there are three main types of therapy, an individual may participate in a combination of each depending upon their individual needs and treatment plan as defined by a medical professional.

Types of structural therapy:

Family Therapy.

No matter the type of therapy that a teen is engaged in, it is important that they feel the support of their family and loved ones and the comfort of knowing that they are in fact loved and cared for. During structural family therapy, the infrastructure and interactions of the family are addressed in an environment that is safe for everyone to express their feelings and emotions. In many cases, a teen’s mental health issues have created difficult situations or strained relationships. The trained professionals at a treatment center like those at Beachside Treatment Center will help families to understand what it is that teens are experiencing, how to show their support and the best way to assist them. Teens will learn to accept the consequences of their actions, how to better cope with their feelings and to understand how their actions impact those around them.

In many situations, a therapist may use a chart to capture and depict the interrelationships of family members including boundaries, hierarchy, and relationships. By evaluating the family dynamic, a medical professional will be able to identify where changes can be made to improve communications and interactions. In order for teenagers to be successful in their treatment plans, it is critical that there are cooperation and understanding with a shared goal of providing the teen with the best possible options and solutions for recovery. According to Salvador Minuchin, developer of the concept of structural family therapy, the family system is just as critical to a teen’s healing as is individual and group therapy.

Individual Therapy.

Called individual therapy for a reason, it is done on a one-on-one basis between the therapist and a teen who has been diagnosed with mental health issues. During these sessions or psychotherapy, a therapist or psychologist may use various methods of speaking with a patient with a goal of achieving and maintaining certain behaviors and/or thoughts. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy may be employed as a solution-based approach to a teen who is experiencing substance abuse issues. According to the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists, the behavior and distorted thoughts associated with substance abuse can be modified through this type of individual behavioral therapy.

In this case, a therapist may evaluate a teen’s motivations and identify ways in which they can develop positive coping mechanisms, methods of managing emotions without the use of drugs, and the root of negative beliefs and values. During individual therapy sessions, a therapist may recommend that a teen continues towards their goals outside of the session by journaling, reading books and participating in other types of therapy such as family and group structural therapy.

Group Therapy.

Group therapy is typically conducted within a treatment facility like Beachside Treatment Center and includes other teens who may be faced with similar challenges or diagnoses. A group leader or therapist may open up a session with the purpose of discussing a particular “how-to” situation, scenario or problem. Although this type of therapy may be extremely uncomfortable for a teen at first, especially if they are already feeling a sense of guilt or shame, but ultimately, they will learn to trust in one another, to appreciate the support of others in the group and to learn from others’ mistakes, trials, and tribulations.

The truth behind group therapy is for teens to understand first and foremost that they are not alone. Many teens who are experiencing mental health issues believe that they are completely alone in their struggles and that no one can relate to them. There is comfort in knowing that you do not have to fight the battle alone and that others have experienced similar if not the same types of symptoms, thoughts, and feelings. They can share how each has handled various situations and they can discuss the options and solutions to help them to overcome their barriers to success.

Family Session | Therapy | Beachside

Similar to a family unit, teens within a group learn to rely on one another, to support each other and provide a sense of relief in knowing that they are understood and accepted by others. In the world outside of group therapy, a teen’s mental health issues may have caused him to believe that he was not worthy of love, to feel as if he was not liked and that he could not share his true feelings of anxiety, fear, or negative thoughts with anyone. The benefit of bonding with others in a group setting is that everyone in the group has experienced those same feelings at one time or another and can share their insight at to how to manage them.

Now that we have some insight as to the various types of treatment available to teens at a treatment center to address their mental health issues, the next logical question would be, “how long does structural therapy take?” Although we indicated earlier that teens with similar issues may relate to one another in group therapy, each teen is still treated as unique as a snowflake.

Each teen’s symptoms are carefully evaluated by a trained medical professional and a treatment plan is designed specifically for their diagnosis and needs. While some mental health issues may be fully recoverable requiring just a few therapy sessions, others may be more deeply rooted and severe, requiring additional structural therapy before a teen may be fully prepared to manage their diagnosis on their own. Although there is no predetermined timeline for each mental health issue, you can be certain that a teen will need several months to change and make improvements in their mental state.

As important as it is that as a parent or caregiver you seek professional help for your teen, it is equally as important that the process not be rushed. Through structural therapy, teens will gain the knowledge and skills to help them to cope with their disorder but it will occur on their terms, within their treatment plan, and on their timeline. It may be appealing to place your teen in a treatment center with the upfront expectation that they will return to your home within 2 months fully recovered and as a “new” person.

Unfortunately, this may not be a reality. The truth of the matter is, recovery from mental health issues is a process and “recovery” or having a good quality of life may be different to different people. While one teen may expect to never experience symptoms again to feel accomplished, another may be satisfied with managing the symptoms on a daily basis. Sustained recovery includes having a full understanding of the disorder itself. As many teens with mental health issues may initially be in denial that they are experiencing any difficulties, acknowledging and understanding a diagnosis and what it means to each individual is the first step in recovery and can take a teen a long way towards their goals.

As was discussed earlier, there is a stigma associated with mental health issues and those who suffer. However, being diagnosed with a mental health disorder is not a death sentence or even a life sentence. You can reach all of your life’s ambitions and achieve your hopes and dreams even if diagnosed with a mental health issue. It is through the support, guidance and structural therapy by trained medical professionals at a facility like Beachside Treatment Center that teens can learn various approaches to their disorder and reach their goals.

Hope is a very powerful word, one which inspires, motivates and drives each of us to continue pushing forward. Beachside Treatment Center helps to instill hope in each and every one of its young patients, guiding them to become all that they were destined to be, even if they have a mental health issue. As Dale Carnegie was so famously quoted as saying, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”