Residential Treatment for Adolescents with Anxiety Disorders
Located in Atlanta, Skyland Trail offers evidence-based residential psychiatric treatment for teens ages 14 to 17 with anxiety disorders that interfere with their ability to function socially, remain in school, and engage meaningfully in goal-directed activities.
Individualized treatment plans address each client's entire support system (family, school, community supports, etc.). A multidisciplinary treatment strategy that is DBT-informed and trauma-informed helps teens improve self-awareness, deepen compassion for self and others, and build resilience.
Adolescents, families, and staff work collaboratively to identify and build on strengths and successes while establishing new and more effective skills for managing an anxiety diagnosis.
Effective Medication Therapy for Teen Anxiety
Medications may be prescribed depending on the nature and severity of an adolescent's symptoms. Medications for anxiety can be effective in addressing panic disorders when combined with exposure and response prevention therapy. Medications can also be effective in addressing some of the physical symptoms of anxiety like excessive sweating, racing pulse, dry mouth, etc.
Our child and adolescent psychiatrist will develop an individualized, evidence-based medication strategy based on the results of psychiatric and psychosocial assessments, treatment history, and the client's symptoms and treatment goals.
Evidence-based Therapy for Teen Anxiety Disorders
Adolescent clients in our treatment program for teens with anxiety disorders participate in individual and group therapy sessions focused on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP), and interpersonal therapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps adolescents uncover harmful "core beliefs" and challenge them. The emotions and behaviors that are connected with anxiety often can be linked to a core belief that an adolescent holds, but may not recognize.
Examples of negative core beliefs that can drive anxiety include:
- The world is not safe
- I don't deserve love or success
- I am not capable
- I am not smart
- I am not attractive
- People I love will leave or reject me
- If I don't always excel or win, I'm worthless
- I must be admired
- I don't fit in anywhere
- It’s not okay to ask for help
- I have to make people happy
Over time, adolescents learn to respond to these negative core beliefs with unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. If you believe you must make everyone happy all the time, you may outwardly behave in a way that does not reflect what you feel on the inside, which may make you feel even worse.
The unhealthy responses reinforce the negative core belief. As a result of this cycle, teens may feel not in control of their moods or behaviors and continue to experience pain as the world outside doesn't mirror what they feel on the inside.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps adolescents and their families identify negative core beliefs and change how they respond to them. Over time, teens adopt skills to replace unhealthy thought and behavior patterns with healthy coping strategies.
At the same time, families learn to communicate with their adolescent in a way that does not reinforce a negative core belief and instead empowers their loved one to feel more secure and capable.
Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP)
Exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP) helps teens confront situations that cause anxiety. Untreated, adolescents often rely on avoidance as a strategy and may begin to withdraw from social groups or academic activities.
ERP helps adolescents gradually increase their exposure to anxiety-provoking situations while receiving support from their treatment team. With support from the treatment team, adolescents set small goals for facing stressful situations and gradually work through those goals until each step becomes easier. Over time, the connection between the stressful situation and the negative emotion begins to fade. The adolescent then feels more in control of their emotions and behaviors related to that specific stressful situation, and may also feel more capable of handling other similar events. Teens therefore build resilience through ERP.
Teen Anxiety Disorders and Trauma
Trauma – particularly when experienced in early childhood – is very predictive of developing all mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders. Skyland Trail practices trauma-informed mental health care in our adolescent treatment program. Trauma-informed care allows trauma survivors to first address the symptoms of a diagnosed mental illness like an anxiety disorder before processing their trauma.
Throughout treatment, care providers acknowledge that the client has experienced trauma and validate the emotions arising from that experience. Treatment strategies are focused on helping the client develop skills to handle difficult emotions and stressful situations in healthy ways.
Completing trauma-informed psychiatric treatment for an anxiety disorder allows clients to develop insight, adopt skills, and build a strong foundation for healthy living. Clients who are trauma survivors are then better prepared and equipped to pursue formal trauma treatment with a specialized mental health provider.
Adolescent Residential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
Adolescents ages 14 to 17 entering the residential treatment program admit to the J. Rex Fuqua Campus. The J. Rex Fuqua Campus includes 26 units bedrooms and private bathrooms. Teens participate in a structured daily structure including evidence-based therapy, academic instruction, and expressive therapies like art and musical therapy.