When teens have a history of trauma, they experience symptoms that disrupt their lives and can increase their risk of substance abuse and mental health difficulties. Fortunately, family therapy helps them to heal from trauma and get the support they need at home to manage symptoms and continue to heal after treatment. Trauma treatment for adolescents at Sustain Recovery focuses on teens healing and continuing the process when they go home. Family therapy plays an important role. It helps teens and their families build a foundation of support and communication so they can continue to get adequate support.
Trauma in Adolescents
The definition of trauma is witnessing or experiencing an event that overwhelms an adolescent’s ability to cope. Events can range from violence at home or in school to serious accidents or highly stressful events. The events themselves do not define trauma; rather, it is the adolescent’s response to such an event.
Signs that an adolescent has experienced trauma include difficulties in school or at home. These challenges can range from behavioral problems to a lack of focus. Additionally, teens may experiment with drugs or alcohol to manage symptoms like sleep disruption, flashbacks, or mental health changes resulting from trauma.
Family Therapy Helps Adolescents Heal
Adolescents are part of a strong social community – their family. Therefore, family therapy can play an important role in helping adolescents to heal. In family therapy, parents and teens work together. They are guided through therapy by a counselor who helps them to build skills, share experiences, and heal together.
Working through trauma is very difficult. This is true for anyone; however, it is particularly true for adolescents. It requires an adolescent to address both the symptoms they are experiencing and the reality of the initial trauma. Additionally, they will need to build new coping skills that help them move forward and manage any symptoms that they continue to experience. Since it is a difficult road, having support can help.
Family therapy offers an opportunity for adolescents to work through challenges with their parents present. This helps parents to better understand their teens. However, when parents are present in their teen’s healing process, it also helps teens to feel supported and can improve their recovery from trauma.
How Family Therapy Helps Adolescents Get Support
Parents can strongly influence their adolescent’s trauma-healing process. As a teen works through their trauma and the related difficulties they may have, such as addiction, they will need guidance and support. Getting needed support at home is ideal. This is because parents can watch out for signs and symptoms and provide support on the spot when issues come up.
However, providing support that is effective for a teen who has a history of trauma is not simple. It requires that parents understand how to support their teens. Fortunately, family therapy helps parents understand how to provide teens with the support they need. In turn, this helps them continue their healing process long after they have left treatment.
Getting support in any capacity relies on honest communication. In family therapy, parents and teens open up to each other and to themselves. This involves learning to recognize how each other feels and then sharing about it. For example, an adolescent who has experienced trauma might open up about how they feel when they get angry or sad and what makes them feel this way. As a result, adolescents learn to communicate their feelings, and parents learn to listen.
Family therapy at Sustain Recovery is led by a counselor. Therefore, when adolescents don’t want to share, the counselor can intervene. Additionally, if parents interrupt or communicate in a way that is not supportive, the counselor can help lead a better format for communication. As a result, it allows both parents and teens to work toward an open and honest line of communication. Additionally, family therapy decreases the risk of a serious conversation turning into an argument and instead helps all parties learn from each other.
When an adolescent has adequate support at home to heal, they feel comradery with their parents. Their parents are there to support and work with them. However, parents and adolescents often have a very different relationship. When an adolescent is struggling with unprocessed trauma that has resulted in substance abuse and mental health issues, this is even more common.
In family therapy, adolescents and parents learn to work together. When an adolescent is on a path to healing, a counselor can help all involved to build a foundation to work off of. This might include helping adolescents learn to ask for help. However, it may also involve parents learning about the nature of trauma and how they can best intervene when needed. Ultimately, adolescents and parents need to work together. Often, all it takes is taking the first steps in communicating better with each other, which a professional counselor can help facilitate.
Many adolescents do not feel comfortable and confident going to their parents for help and support. While it is natural for parents to feel frustrated, opening up communication in both directions is important for an adolescent to heal from trauma. A family therapy program at Sustain Recovery can help. We work with adolescents who are struggling to recover from trauma, addiction, and mental health disorders, supporting adolescents as they learn new skills and heal. However, we also understand that parents’ involvement and understanding of how to be involved in a positive way is key to a successful recovery. To learn more about our programs or how we utilize family therapy, call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052.