Adopted Teens and Adolescents

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Adolescence has its challenges for every child, adopted or not. It is a time of rapid mental and physical change, greater responsibility and new opportunities. Add to that tremendous pressure to perform academically (and athletically) and conform to peer-group norms. During this period, teens develop their self-identity.

Part of developing self-identity includes understanding one’s past history and family origin. Adopted children may have some very intense feelings about their identity, feelings that become heightened during adolescence. While they may feel a true sense of belonging to their adopted family and peer group, they may repeatedly put their family and friends to the test.

Being adopted does not mean that behavioral problems will develop. But when problems occur, it is important to respond appropriately and with sensitivity.

When Treatment Becomes Necessary

Internalizing negative emotions can lead to self-destructive behavior.  Externalizing negative emotions is important, but can be done in either a healthy or destructive way. Engaging with friends, playing sports or writing songs are all examples of healthy externalization. Unhealthy or destructive externalization is dangerous and may indicate the need for professional help. Destructive externalization includes:

  • Suicidal ideation
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Violence
  • Getting into trouble
  • Inability to meet school, work, social or family responsibilities

Loved ones may try to help but end up feeling frustrated, angry and hopeless when their efforts are met with rejection or worse. Sometimes families need a break, and kids need an objective person to guide them. Needing treatment does not mean anything is wrong with the teen or the family. Receiving treatment can help teens transition out of negative thought and behavior patterns into more positive ones.

Co-occurring Disorders

Often there are underlying or co-occurring problems of which adoptive families may not be aware. Biological family history of mental illness, early childhood trauma or history of abuse may exacerbate behavioral symptoms. Teens also may be using drugs or alcohol without their families realizing it. Receiving treatment can help identify all of the issues contributing to behavior problems and treat them concurrently.

How Treatment Can Help Teens And Their Adoptive Families

Beginning with pre-admission, our professional adolescent treatment teams at Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego work with patients and their families to accurately assess and treat the core problem as well as any co-occurring disorders. Our treatment teams at the Rancho San Diego are specially trained to care for adopted adolescents with understanding and sensitivity to their unique needs. We provide the education, support and guidance families in crisis need to move past the guilt and blame and into a healthy future together.

Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego realizes that children and teens are not just small adults. Adolescence is a very sensitive time of rapid physical, cognitive and psychosocial growth. We provide age-appropriate, developmentally sensitive treatment using evidence-based modalities. Some such modalities include individual, group and family psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, process groups, facilitated peer-to-peer support, life skills training, cognitive remediation, lifestyle management, relapse prevention and more. Adjunctive therapies include neurofeedback, pharmacogenetic testing, acupuncture and more.

Experiential therapy involves different creative outlets and opportunities for self-expression facilitated by specialized therapists.  Some forms of experiential therapy offered at Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego include equine, art, music, and exercise or yoga therapy. Teens also learn to relax and focus while developing new skills and discovering new hobbies. Making time just to have fun and share some laughs is very important as well. Sovereign offers many recreational activities, including games, sports, and field trips to local events and places of interest.

On-site Education

Parents need not worry about treatment disrupting their children’s schooling. At Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego, students spend 1.5 hours per day and 7.5 hours per week in our EDGE classroom and study center, where they can work with an academic facilitator and tutors. In addition, Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego partners with Advantages School International, an NCA CASI-accredited academic program, and local school districts to offer adolescents the opportunity to earn single-course credits through an online curriculum or a face-to-face, teacher-driven course, so that the students can stay current on their education while they are away from their home schools. We also offer credit recovery when needed, GED preparation and independent living skills.

About Sovereign Health of Rancho San Deigo

Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego is a leader in the treatment of adolescents with behavioral disorders, mental illness, substance abuse and dual diagnosis. Our specialized professional staff members work together to meet the goals and needs of our young patients and their families. To learn more about our programs or any of our specialized services, please call our 24/7 helpline.

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Sovereign Health offers comprehensive and high-quality treatment programming for substance abuse and mental health. Call our 24/7 helpline at any time to reach our admissions team.

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"There was more than just therapy. There were life skills that were taught and everyone here cared genuinely." - Jack

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