Archives for December 2014

When is Behavior Modification Necessary for My Teen?

Raising a teen with behavioral problems can be one of the most stressful things a parent can do. Because all adolescents have issues with pushing boundaries, talking back and occasional aggressive behavior, it can be hard to know what is normal for the age and what requires outside intervention for behavior modification. In order to determine whether your teen is extreme, there are some questions you should consider.

·         Does your teen struggle with basic expectations and rules at home and school?

·         Does your teen have poor grades or problems with regular attendance? Do you worry that he/she won’t finish high school?

·         Is your teen verbally abusive? Do you hesitate before speaking to him in order to avoid rage or a verbal attack?

·         Has your teen ever been physically violent?

·         Is he/she manipulative and deceitful?

·         Does your teen frequently seem withdrawn, depressed or unmotivated?

·         Has your teen had problems with the law?

·         Are you consistently concerned that your teen’s behavior is a danger to his safety?

·         Has your teen experimented with drugs or alcohol?

·         Do you often feel powerless in the face of your teen’s defiant and destructive behavior?

If your answer to most of these questions is yes, then it is likely that your teen could benefit from behavior modification through therapy.

What is Behavior Modification?

Behavior modification is a therapy technique based on the idea that all behavior is controlled by a reinforcing and punishing stimuli. This approach rewards good behavior and creates consequences for bad behavior with the idea that rewards are ultimately more powerful than punishment. This type of therapy teaches new responses until the individual can better control his reactions.

Behavior modification therapy is often used along with medication therapy and/or cognitive therapy for teens and children suffering from disorders such as ADHD, ADD, substance abuse and mood or anxiety issues. Behavior modification requires clear guidelines and consistent consequences. Both rewards and punishment need to be age appropriate and involve something that they care about. Because every teen is different, you need to determine what is most likely to motivate them for the most effective results. While any teen can benefit from basic behavior modification techniques, the more extreme cases require the help of a professional, or even a stay in a residential treatment program.   

If you are concerned about your teen and the behavior that he or she is displaying, it is best to make an appointment with a psychologist that specializes in teen behavior. Through a thorough history and an interview with your teen, you will be guided toward the next step to take for the health of your teen and the happiness of your family. 

What is Behavior Modification?

The adolescent years are often turbulent. As teens make the transition from childhood to adults, they experiment by pushing boundaries and engaging in power struggles with authority figures. While this is a normal occurrence for the age, some teens are unable to regulate their behavior or social interaction. In some cases, they even become a threat to themselves or others. This can be caused by anything from mental disorders such as ADHD or Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) to factors like abuse or neglect. In such cases, behavior modification therapy may be necessary to help challenged teens lead an emotionally healthy life. Behavior modification therapy was created on the premise that good behavior should be rewarded, while undesirable behavior receives consequences, with the idea that rewards are ultimately more powerful than punishments.

Behavior Modification essentially teaches a teen new skills in order to navigate day to day issues and interact with others more effectively. Parents are encouraged to be an active part in the behavior modification process as their response is important to their child’s progression. Because each teen has different needs, they should be evaluated thoroughly by a health professional prior to designing a plan of care. This evaluation includes a detailed history of the problems, both at home and at school, as well as social concerns. The therapist will also conduct a personal interview in order to get a sense of what is needed. After the initial evaluation, a therapist will create a list of behaviors to target for treatment, which may include things such as interacting well with siblings or obeying requests from authority figures. Because the treatment changes as the teen progresses, parents and teachers must both carefully monitor his responses.

Training for parents usually involves things such as setting house rules, creating predictable daily routines and using appropriate templates for requests, rewards and consequences. Depending on the needs of the teen, parents may attend therapy sessions with their child in order to compromise on solutions for behavioral issues. It is also important for parents to work closely with their teen’s teachers and other relevant school staff to help them understand the best way to carry out the behavior modification program in the classroom. Consistency is one of the most crucial elements for effectively changing behavior. Learning new skills takes time. Every teen will progress at his own pace, but even slow progress is a good thing. Starting out with small, achievable goals will help him build confidence in his ability to succeed. 

When a teen’s behavioral issues are severe enough that his parents are unable to give him the consistent environment and round the clock coaching he needs, residential treatment centers are an ideal option. These facilities, designed for troubled teens, offer full time behavior modification treatment. Through careful monitoring and constant therapeutic care, teens are able to make the behavioral changes they need to continue their treatment at home.

Whether you are considering outpatient care or a treatment program, the first step is to speak to a mental health professional. Only then can you begin to take the steps you need in order to get your teen back on track and improve the well-being of your family. 

Kicking Teen Violence To The Curb Infographic

It is surprisingly high how many teens are involved in violence in their schools and neighborhoods. People that have been involved with teen violence are often filled with fear or regret. Education is the key to solving this epidemic. Friends and families of teens need to be standing up for what is right and supporting teens that have been affected by teen violence. There is always help for teens hurt by violence. Find out how you can do your part - know the signs and solutions so you can speak up against teen violence. Please reach out to those in need and spread the word. 

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What Do I Look For In Schools For Troubled Teens?

The adolescent years are a formative time of growth and learning. When a teen is troubled or at risk for damaging behaviors, it can impact their healthy development. Although many teens exhibit defiant behavior or experiment with negative activities, those who are resistant to rehabilitative efforts by their parents or authority figures may end up needing outside intervention. Full time facilities such as residential treatment centers or therapeutic boarding schools are often the answer for severely troubled teens. These programs are designed to be an intensive healing environment where kids can identify their problems and work toward an effective solution, free of the distractions and temptations in their home or school environment. Specializing in issues like depression, anxiety, substance abuse or defiance, these programs are coached and monitored by trained and caring staff.

Because a full time facility is often a major emotional and financial investment, choosing the right one can be intimidating. You want to be sure that the option you pick is going to give your son his best chance for success. While most programs offer a combination of therapy options, including individual, group and family, some may also provide additional benefits such as recreational therapy, life skills coaching or academic assistance. There are some particular factors to consider as you research options.

  • Safety – There are different rules and requirements for teen rehabilitation programs in each state. Look up the laws and regulations for the state you are considering in order to ensure that potential facilities have high standards. Don’t be afraid to look at more distant options if you live in a state without strict safety measures. The location of the program is less important than making sure you matched up your son with the best fit.
  • Experience – Much like safety regulations, each state requires different levels of accreditation and experience. Familiarize yourself with the laws in your state, so you can be reassured that your son is in knowledgeable hands.
  • Individual Attention – Look for a program that individualizes a plan of care for your teen. The most effective residential treatment programs will offer a consistent amount of one-on-one coaching and guidance that allows the staff to update each teen’s plan of care as he works his way through the program. Regular individual attention also helps build trust and set the foundation for better relationships with caregivers and authority figures.
  • Therapy Program–A facility that provides various types of therapy and modalities are more likely to reach each teen on a personal level. The best way to treat troubled teens is to identify the factors that are leading to bad behavior and work to create changes from the inside out. Treating only the symptoms of the problem is a short term solution at best.
  • Parental Involvement – Your input as a parent is extremely important since you know your teen best. Although the programs at some facilities require initial distance from the parents as their child adjusts to his new surroundings, a good program will listen to your input and apply it as much as possible. You should also consider facilities that provide transitional care and support for the whole family when it is time for your teen to return home.

Liahona Academy is a residential treatment center located in southern Utah. We specialize in helping troubled boys throughout the country overcome their challenges and gain the tools they need to become healthy and happy individuals. For questions about our program, or for a free consultation, please call us at 1-800-675-8101.

Teenage Depression: Battling Life’s Ups and Downs

The adolescent years are a time of great emotional and physical change. Teens are notorious for their volatile tempers, high emotions and low lows during this time, so it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether your teen is strugglingwith depression or simply “the blues.” In reality, teen depression is something that affects every area of life and can lead to more damaging behaviors, such as self-mutilation, substance abuse, pregnancy, violence or even suicide. Parents should be alert to the signs and symptoms of depression in their teen.

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability, anger or hostility
  • Frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from friends and loss of interest in regular activities
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Changes in weight or eating and sleeping habits
  • Lack of motivation or enthusiasm
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Sudden problems at school
  • Restlessness, agitation or difficulty concentrating

While some of these symptoms are present in most teens at some point, parents should consider how long they have been present and how severe they are. Long lasting changes in behavior, mood or personality should be taken very seriously.

Should I Worry About Suicide?

A depressed teenwill sometimes talk about death or suicide or even make an attempt. There are an increasing number of successful teen suicides and parents should be aware of red flags and warning signs.

  • Talking about death or committing suicide, even in jokes
  • Phrases such as “I wish I could disappear” or “I’d be better off dead”
  • Writing songs, stories or poems about dying, death or suicide
  • Seeking out pills, weapons or other ways to kill themselves
  • Giving away possessions
  • Engaging in reckless behavior
  • Saying good-bye to friends and loved ones

What Do I Do?

If you suspect that your teen is suffering from depression, take action as soon as possible. Share your initial concerns with your child as well as specific things you have noticed and allow him a chance to open up and talk.

  • Offer support – Without asking a lot of questions, let your teen know that you are there to support him in whatever way he needs.
  • Be gently persistent – It is not enough to attempt discussion with your teen once and it is not unusual for him to want to shut you out. Try to be respectful of his comfort level, while making it clear that you are concerned and willing to listen and help him.
  • Listen – Resist the urge to lecture or pass judgment if your teen does begin to open up. At this point, he needs someone to listen, not offer unsolicited advice or solutions.
  • Validate – The causes for your teen’s depression are very real to him, even if they seem minor or even silly to you. Validate how he is feeling by acknowledging his pain and sadness so he knows that you take his emotions seriously.

Depression should not be left untreated. Make an appointment for your teen to see a doctor for a depression screening. Come prepared with descriptions of his symptoms and how long they have been presentas well as any patterns that you have noticed. Depression can sometimes be genetic, so also list any close family members who have also struggled with it.

Your doctor can then refer you to a therapist or other specialist who can provide your teen with a plan of care to help him overcome his depression. The road to recovery is often slow and bumpy, so be patient, while cheering on the small victories that will inevitably come. Above all, don’t blame yourself or your teen or compare your family to others. You are your child’s best support and resource for healing.

Liahona Academy is a residential treatment center located in southern Utah. We specialize in helping troubled teen boys overcome depression and other challenges that interfere with healthy development. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your son’s needs. 1-800-675-8101

Top Teenage Depression Tests Online

While some amount of depression is common during the turbulent adolescent years, it can be hard for parents to know whether their teen is facing a real problem or is simply acting his age. Feeling “low” or “sad” can morph into official depression when it is persistent or has been going on for a sustained period of time. Properly researched self-tests for depression give individuals an effective way to evaluate their mental state based on the different aspects in their life. This selection of tests geared specifically toward teens is designed to educate you about both the challenges of depression and help you determine what level of it your teen is facing.

Go through the questions on these tests with your child so you can be clear on what his greatest challenges are. The questions asked on each test will also give you a better idea of warning behaviors to watch for. You may be able to help reduce or eliminate some of the triggers and risk factors leading to depression. Being as informed as possible will help you get your childthe help that is right for him to become healthy and happy.

These tests do not substitute for the advice and consultation of a licensed physician.

Ten Teenage Depression Tests Available Online


Teen Depression Statistics

Teen depression is quickly becoming one of the major concerns of adolescence and the statistics are sobering. As the most common mental disorder among teens and adults in the U.S., depression is making its presence felt earlier and earlier. Studies have estimated that:

  • Approximately 20 percent of teens will suffer from depression before reaching adulthood and between 10 and 15 percent are experiencing at least some symptoms at any one time.
  • Most teens suffering from depression will ultimately have to deal with more than one episode. 20 to 40 percent will have more than one episode within two years and up to 70 percent will have more than one episode before adulthood. It is estimated that an episode generally lasts around 8 months.
  • Over 8 percent of teens suffer from depression for up to a year, compared with 5.3 percent of the general population.
  • Around 2 percent of teens are affected with Dysthymia, which is a type of mild, long-lasting depression. 15 percent of teens with depression eventually go on to develop bipolar disorder.

While outside factors can sometimes affect the onset of depression, it is can be found in any teen regardless of social background, gender, income level, race or school involvement. Adolescent girls are more likely to suffer from depression, but teen boys are less likely to recognize the symptoms or seek help. It is estimated that this is a result of different social expectations for boys and girls, where girls are encouraged to express their feelings and boys are not. Girls also have a strong dependence on social ties, which can increase the chance of depression being generated by social factors, such as loss of friends or bullying. There are some other risk factors that also increase the chances of a depression episode:

  • Previous episode
  • Abuse, trauma, disability or long term illness
  • Family history. Up to 50 percent of teens with depression have a genetic tie to it through a family member.
  • Untreated mental conditions. Around two thirds of teens with depression also have an undiagnosed mental disorder such as drug or alcohol addiction, anxiety or dysthemia

While depression in itself is uncomfortable, it can also lead to a higher risk for other issues:

  • Around 30 percent of depressed teens develop a substance abuse problem.
  • Teens with untreated depression are more likely to engage in risky behavior, both sexual and physical.
  • Depressed teens have greater trouble in school, jobs and relationships
  • Teens with depression are more prone to physical illnesses than emotional healthy teens.
  • Untreated depression can lead to suicide, which is the third leading cause of death among teens.

While some amount of depression is common among teens during the adolescent years, if you are concerned that your child has a moderate to severe problem, you should seek help immediately. Depression is often treatable through medication and/or lifestyle changes and there are specialists who can advise and help your teen get through the more severe cases. Be aware of any consistent changes in your child’s personality or mood and familiarize yourself with the warning signs. You are your teen’s best resource for getting through these formative years, happy and healthy.

Liahona Academy is a residential treatment center located in southern Utah. We specialize in helping troubled teen boys gain the tools they need to successfully meet day to day challenges. If you have questions about our program or would like a free consultation, please call us at 1-800-675-8101.

Signs of Teen Depression in School

What is Depression?

Depression is officially defined as a medical disorder that causes an individual to persistently feel sad, low or disinterested in regular activities. While some temporary level of “the blues” is common in everyone depending on personality or situation, depressive disorder lasts for an extended period of time and is generally resistant to simple willpower. Major depressive disorder is diagnosed when significant symptoms are present almost every day for a minimum of two weeks. Around 5 percent of adolescents suffer from major depressive disorder either as a response to a stressful situation or an independent occurrence. Dysthymic disorder is a milder version of depression that can last for at least a year. While the effects of dysthymic disorder are somewhat lighter than major depressive disorder, it can still impair functioning at home and school.

What Does Depression Look Like In Teens?

Depression in teens can present differently than it does in adults. It is often assumed that affected individuals will be more sad and tearful than usual, but it can also make teens consistently irritable, listless, tired or uninterested in activities they used to enjoy. Episodes of depression usually last an average of eight months after which it either resolves or recurs. Changes in how a teen handles school can be a real indicator of the presence of depression:

  • Forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating, which can affect all aspects of school from paying attention in class and following directions to completing assignments. This can also lead to an impaired ability to organize, plan or practice abstract reasoning
  • Social isolation or withdrawal from friends and peer interaction
  • Aggressive behavior at school, such as increased fights, arguments or disrespect for authority figures
  • Heightened sensitivity to real or perceived criticism
  • Other conditions such as ADHD can combine with depression to contribute to learning disorders. Having one mental condition does not mean an individual can’t develop others
  • Increased anxiety, which may manifest in difficulty being away from home or trouble transitioning from one environment to the other
  • Undiagnosed and untreated learning disorders can trigger depression if a teen is frustrated with his academic difficulty or lack of progress.

What Do I Do Now?

If you feel like depression may be playing a role in your teen’s school performance, it is important to seek out help right away. Make an appointment for your child with his regular doctor, who can assess and refer you to the right resources to help him heal and recover. You should also make his teachers and school counselor aware of the issues he is facing so that they can make sure that he gets the extra assistance he needs in class. Remember that the road to recovery is often slow and bumpy, so be patient. As long as you are helping your teen address the problem with every resource you can, then you are on the right path.

Liahona Academy, located in southern Utah is a residential treatment center dedicated to helping teen boys overcome the effects of depression. Through regular therapy, accredited academics and healthy recreation, our residents gain the confidence they need to lead a successful life. If you would like to discuss our program or would like a free consultation about your son, please contact us at 1-800-675-8101.

Residential Treatment Centers Offer Lasting Solutions To Troubled Teens

It can be exhausting and emotionally draining to raise a defiant and angry teen. It can also be extremely difficult to accept that you may need outside intervention in order to get him back on track.While the idea of temporarily sending your child away can be intimidating, some teens are unable to respond to their parent’s efforts and need the intensive, full time monitoring and therapeutic treatment that a residential program can provide. Facilities such as residential treatment centers and therapeutic boarding schools are specifically designed to help teens overcome issues of aggression, anxiety, depression, defiance, low self-esteem or substance abuse. These challenges can interfere with a teen’s healthy development and ability to function effectively in their home and school environments. Full time teen help programs are the most successful option for teens that have not benefited from parental discipline or other outpatient solutions.

How Does It Work?

Residential treatment centers offer housing for troubled teens where they receive immersive therapeutic care while being closely monitored in a safe and supportive environment. This approach is designed to help teens identify and address their underlying issues and learn better coping skills for the resulting symptoms. Residential treatment centers encourage change through multiple kinds of therapy; including group, individual and family. When these are combined with a balance of accredited academics and healthy recreation, each teen is able to practice life skills while learning teamwork and better communication skills. Regular one-on-one attention from counselors and therapists allow them to make adjustments to each resident’s plan of care as he works his way through the program. Not all teens will progress at the same pace and a good facility will strive to see your son as the individual he is.

Small group settings are intended to mimic the home environment and help prepare troubled teens to practice effective boundaries and newly acquired coping skills. Parents are included in the healing process and receive support and guidance for the transition time when their teen returns home.The goal of these programs is to help teens make positive changes from the inside out. This type of treatment has a great history of success for helping severely troubled teens get back on the path to successful adulthood.

Liahona Academy is a residential treatment center located in southern Utah. We specialize in helping troubled teen boys turn their lives around and rediscover their best selves. We have over fifteen years of experience and we maintain the highest standards for our facility and staff. If you are the parent of a struggling teen, contact us today (1-800-675-8101) for a free consultation to discuss his needs and your options.


Residential Treatment Centers For Teens That Struggle With Depression

Residential treatment centers are full time programs designed to provide a therapeutically immersive environment for troubled teens. Issues such as substance abuse, defiance, low self-esteem and depression are things that can severely impact a teen’s development and ability to function effectively in day to day life. Full time programs are generally a last resort for teens that are not responding to outpatient care or help from their parents. While the idea of sending your teen away may seem drastic or intimidating, remember that some only thrive when removed from their daily routine and triggers.

Although the curriculum varies depending on each individual facility, most employ a combination of group, individual and family therapies combined with healthy recreation and academics. Depression is similar to other conditions in that it is often the symptom of something deeper. The goal of teen treatment programs is to help each resident identify and target what is causing his behavior or lack of self-worth. This approach to healing from the inside out is more effective than teaching teens how to simply mask or redirect their symptoms. There are a number of things that you should be aware of as you research different program options.

  • Individualized Plans – Every teen is different, especially when it comes to the root of their depression. Therefore, there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to treatment. A good facility will evaluate each teen upon arrival in order to determine his medical, behavioral, emotional and social needs. Based on this assessment, the staff can craft a plan of care that is individualized. Each treatment plan includes a mixture of therapies as well as healthy, interactive activities that boost self-esteem and develop a sense of teamwork.
  • Academics – Some facilities offer accredited academic programs in order to help tutor students or help them repair failed grades. The goal is to help each resident get on track to graduate on target with his peers at his home school.
  • One-on-one Coaching – Individual attention from counselors and therapists is particularly important for teens struggling with depression. While a common symptom is to retreat and push others away, experienced staff can draw him out and help him engage in activities that boost his confidence and help him identify his strengths. One on one attention also allows the staff to alter the plan of care as he works his way through the program.
  • Better Communication – Almost every teen entering a treatment program needs help improving their communication skills. In teens with depression, this could mean learning to ask for what they need or effectively standing up for themselves. Interactive recreational activities and a safe, supportive environment allow troubled teens to practice these skills.
  • Respite – Dealing with a seriously depressed teen can be emotionally draining on the caretaker and many parents feel guilty about that. Residential treatment centers offer emotional respite for parents, while their teen is in a safe, secure environment dedicated to helping him overcome his issues. When it is time to transition home, both parties are better able to make a fresh start for a more improved relationship.

Liahona Academy, located in southern Utah, is a residential treatment facility specializing in helping troubled teen boys from throughout the country overcome issues such as depression. Please contact us todayat 1-800-675-8101 for a free consultation.