Residential Treatment for Adolescents with Bipolar Disorder

Located in Atlanta, Skyland Trail offers residential psychiatric treatment for teens ages 14 to 17 with bipolar illness.

As our clients' active symptoms are resolved through medication and psychotherapy, they can focus on learning skills to reduce impulsive behaviors and regulate emotions.

As part of our residential treatment program teens with bipolar illness also begin to adopt healthy lifestyle habits to improve physical and psychiatric health. Healthy lifestyles include routinely getting enough sleep each night, participating in cardiovascular exercise, improving nutrition, and engaging in positive social interactions.

Family programming ensures that while teens are learning new skills and making changes to support a healthy future, families also are adjusting. Family members may need to redefine their typical roles within the family system. Family therapy also helps parents and other caregivers provide appropriate space and support for their loved one to effectively use and practice skills and transition to becoming a more independent young adult.

Effective Medication Therapy for Teen Bipolar Disorder

Medications are an integral part of treatment for bipolar disorder. Because teens who experience medication side effects may struggle to adhere to their medication regimen, adolescent clients and their families discuss the benefits and side effects of various medications and develop an individualized medication plan. An effective medication strategy combined with strategies to mitigate side effects, helps to prevent and treat mood episodes and can have an enormous positive impact on all areas of life.

Evidence-based Therapy for Teen Bipolar Disorder

Adolescent clients in our treatment program for teen bipolar disorder participate in individual and group therapy sessions focused on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with interpersonal social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) and mindfulness skills building. Family therapy that draws on the principles of Family Focused Therapy (FFT) is also an important part of treatment for teens with bipolar disorder.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps adolescents learn that "thoughts are not facts." They learn skills to recognize and confront unhealthy thought patterns (e.g. I'm a failure. I'm not good enough. Everyone else is smarter/better looking/more talented.)

Teens gradually learn to use CBT skills to break those thoughts down. What is causing that thought? Can you find evidence to contradict that thought? How true is it really? How can you reframe that thought to be more accurate or useful?

Teens also learn how to improve their mood through intentional behaviors. Many depressed teens isolate and avoid friends and family. Therapy helps young people understand how isolating makes the depression worse and also empowers them to do something different, even when it's hard – call a friend, take a shower, write in a journal, paint, play with a pet, etc.

Bipolar Disorder and Trauma

Trauma – particularly when experienced in early childhood – is very predictive of developing all mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder. Skyland Trail practices trauma-informed mental health care. Trauma-informed care allows trauma survivors to first address the symptoms of a diagnosed mental illness like bipolar disorder before processing their trauma.

Throughout treatment, care providers acknowledge that the client has experienced trauma and validate the emotions arising from that experience. But the treatment team does not ask the client to describe or re-live the trauma in any way. 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 a mood disorder like bipolar illness 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 Bipolar Disorder

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 music therapy.