Mental health disorders are a leading cause for doctor’s visits and hospital stays among all age groups. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to mental health problems, which can include both mental health disorders and substance abuse problems. While addiction, which is a mental health condition, and mental health disorders are incurable, they are both highly treatable. The earlier substance abuse and mental health disorders are addressed, the better the chances are of recovery. Experiential therapy is one of the most effective treatments for mental health disorders and addiction.
During adolescence, your body goes through significant changes while you prepare for adulthood. The human brain continues to develop until the mid-20s and puberty cause substantial physical and emotional changes.
Coupled with balancing school, socializing, and relationships, teens often face obstacles such as peer pressure and confidence issues, making them prone to recreational drug use. Sometimes, normal behaviors of puberty and maturing are confused with symptoms of mental health and substance abuse problems, and vice versa.
But what is experiential therapy? And where can you find therapeutic services for teens in California?
What is Addiction?
Addiction and substance abuse problems are mental health disorders that cause you to compulsively use drugs and alcohol to feel normal. Despite wanting to quit or constant negative consequences, addiction causes you to continue to seek out drugs and alcohol. Addiction changes your brain chemistry, causing your brain’s pleasure and reward center to associate drugs and alcohol with pleasure.
When your brain begins associating substances with happiness, it rewards you with excessive amounts of neurotransmitters whenever you use. When you don’t use, you can experience withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings, both of which make it extremely hard to quit without help.
Teens are also less likely to reach out for help with mental health and addiction issues. Teens can feel ashamed or embarrassed to come to their parents for help or may fear disappointing their loved ones. However, early treatment is absolutely essential. Addiction and mental health problems are progressive in nature, meaning they get worse over time without treatment.
Common signs of substance abuse and addiction problems in teens include:
- Changes in behavior, such as staying out later than usual
- Isolating from family members and loved ones
- Changes in appearance, such as looking fatigued or exhausted
- Having drugs or paraphernalia
What is Experiential Therapy?
Experiential therapy is a type of evidence-based treatment that is utilized during substance abuse and mental health treatment. Experiential therapy is a type of talk therapy alternative developed in the 1970s. The goal of experiential therapy is to help you address repressed or subconscious thoughts and feelings.
Experiential therapy uses guided activities to help you identify and address difficult to understand emotions.
Some examples of common treatments that a teen experiential therapy in California offers will include:
- Animal therapy, such as equine therapy
- Music therapy
- Art therapy
- Role-playing activities
- Wilderness therapy
Since some thoughts and feelings are difficult to describe or express verbally, experiential therapy is especially helpful during treatment. It creates an alternative way to creatively express complex emotions and thoughts, which can make it easier to talk about those issues later. Many experiential therapy activities are also fun and enjoyable, making them a welcome break from more serious forms of treatment like individual counseling.
Experiential therapy can also help you learn new hobbies and develop interests in new activities.
Finding Help Today
Struggling with a mental health disorder or substance abuse problem is frustrating, overwhelming, and emotional. Especially when it involves your child or loved one. Destinations for Teens, home to the best and most established experiential therapy, is here to help your family find hope and recovery. Call us today at 877.466.0620 to find out more about our programs.