Trauma is not a linear occurrence, nor is it easy to disassemble. Children who’ve grappled with a traumatic experience may have emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual scars. At the same time, their actions reflect still-lingering effects of unprocessed trauma, resulting in challenging or risky behavior. From processing emotions to developing healthier skillsets, trauma-informed care for adolescents develops more adaptive behaviors into adulthood.
What Is Adolescent Trauma?
Nearly ten percent of American teens have grappled with long-lasting trauma or adverse childhood experiences. A growing sense of pandemic isolation and anxiety; the stressors of being a teen in Los Angeles? Any adolescent would feel an effect. How about a teen who’s already struggling with adolescent trauma? A trauma therapy program should recognize the signs and symptoms of adolescent trauma and acknowledge what a child is going through.
Adolescent trauma stems from a wide array of adverse childhood experiences:
- Exposure to domestic violence
- Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Family member in prison or jail
- Sudden death
- Chronic illness
- Substance abuse
These occurrences can disrupt the flow of childhood, impacting the transition from adolescence to adulthood. By acknowledging the sources of trauma, effective trauma therapy teens facilitate the first steps toward healing.
How Can Adolescent Trauma Manifest?
Beyond identifying the sources of childhood or adolescent trauma, knowing what to look for–what ‘acting out’ can reveal–is an important step toward effective treatment. As a parent or friend of a teenager coping with trauma, you may recognize these behaviors and avoidance strategies commonly attributed to trauma.
- A teen may be either extremely expressive or relatively silent. From physical and emotional outbursts difficult to diffuse to isolating themselves from meaningful interaction with others, teens coping with trauma rarely find a middle ground. Extreme or maladaptive behaviors can act as a bait and switch, diverting attention from the underlying presence of trauma.
- Not all moodiness can be blamed on the teen years. Sadness, anger, irritation, and confrontational moods: may be indicators of trauma. Adolescents coping with trauma may experience rapidly declining moods, and prolonged moodiness can lead to self-harm.
- Trouble in school, including declining grades and/or increased truancy, can point to teens dealing with trauma. Unresolved trauma is no match for growing responsibilities or academic expectations; teens dealing with trauma may exhibit growing challenges in the classroom environment.
- Relatedly, challenges with peer relationships or problematic attachments may indicate signs of unresolved trauma. Affected teens may Isolate from friends to protect themselves from disappointment or judgment, then form attachments with anyone who shows affection or acknowledgment.
Discover Transformative Trauma Therapy for Teens at Hillsides Cares
At Hillsides Cares, we provide trauma-informed care for teens and families coping with impactful adverse experiences. Based on gradual exposure, we specialize in trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT). Our therapists work with teenagers towards regulating actions and thought patterns, as well as augmenting feelings of safety and confidence in relationships with self and others. Relaxation skills, narrative processing, and building connections among thoughts, emotions, and actions navigate the complexities of trauma. Similarly, methodologies like Aggression Replacement Training (ART) teach teens to examine new perspectives and reason through problems and problematic behaviors. The concept of Seeking Safety also espouses what one can do right now, at the moment, to effect a positive and concrete change.
While signs and symptoms of trauma share commonalities, every person is unique. At Hillsides Cares, we honor what your teen has been through. Reach out at 323.641.4842 to change their destination.