Visions Adolescent Treatment just celebrated its 12th birthday and we entered our tweens with a bang! So much has happened in the last 12 years of providing exemplary care for teens and their families, we really wanted to celebrate. Since our beginning in 2002, Visions has expanded our programs to include:
NeXT Extended Care Program. Located in Santa Monica, NeXT is a gender specific program for individuals ages 15-18 years old. At NeXt, teens work in conjunction with therapists and receive therapeutic services as well as support in outside educational environments.
LAUNCH, our outpatient lifestyles program for young adults, which focuses on teaching young adults necessary life skills as they enter adulthood, i.e., vocational, educational and social needs all under the supervision and encouragement of a therapeutic staff.
And over the last 18 months, our entire staff, starting from the top down, has been educated in DBT and is now DBT informed.
Visions has a lot to celebrate and an incredible community to celebrate with and we are extremely grateful. We had a packed house at the Victorian in Santa Monica, which included recovery professionals from all over Los Angeles and Orange County. There was an amazing tower of cronuts from Nobelle Cakes that were divine!
In addition to the wonderful company and food, Terra Hollbrook, MSW, LCSW, CADC, did a fantastic presentation during lunch, talking about our Three-Day Family Intensive program, which launches in June. Terra spoke about the importance of treating the entire family, which includes looking at the varying degrees of codependence and trauma within the family root system.
While we have a lot to be proud of, we still maintain our foundation of being a founder driven, family oriented company. We are a team, plain and simple, and we nourish and care for our families as well as our staff. We are always seeking ways in which to broaden our horizons in order to maintain a clinical culture of excellence. Visions Adolescent Treatment is excited to continue to grow and continue to provide families with well-rounded and compassionate treatment. Onward to lucky 13! Thank you all for celebrating with us. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Check out the gallery of pics from the event! [slideshow id=7]
Thanksgivukkah? Yes, that’s right, there’s a rare convergence of two holidays happening this week because of a rare occurrence in the lunarsolar Hebrew calendar, whose dates reflect the moon phase and solar times of the year. I am definitely intrigued by the meshing of Thanksgiving and Chanukah and have been creatively thinking of culinary ways in which to blend the two. Pumpkin-pie cream-filled donuts and latkes are definitely entering this once-in-a-lifetime menu of obscurity.
Thanksgiving and Chanukah are holidays that encourage togetherness, and for both of these celebrations, gratitude is the main dish served. Additionally, these holidays invite the possibility of family gatherings. For some, this is exciting and long awaited; for others, it’s tantamount to walking into Mordor. Honoring either of those situations, and the feelings and sensations that arise is going to be key in navigating the holiday.
If you are freshly in recovery from mental health issues or substance abuse, and your trauma is in your face, being gentle with yourself is going to be imperative. Honor what you need, how you feel, and create some healthy boundaries for yourself. If going to a particular family member’s house is too triggering, see if you can go to a friend’s house or maybe invite friends over and make your own wild adventure of a meal.
If you are the parents of a child in treatment and this is your first holiday together, try to come into it with an open heart and mind. It won’t be easy for any of you, but there is a clear opportunity to create healthy, healing familial change. Both holidays are tied together with the idea of unity, togetherness, and community. Taking baby steps to develop new traditions can be eye opening and fun.
We are all grateful for something. Start making gratitude lists and checking them twice. Gratitude lists can be simple, complex, silly, or serious. Gratitude is gratitude and Thanksgivukkah is a perfect opportunity to get grateful. Chanukah celebrates the miracle of light and the miraculous fact that a day’s worth of oil lasted for 8 days. Thanksgiving celebrates a bountiful harvest. Both of these conjoined make for a celebration of epic gratitude. Yes, epic. Mixing traditions and discovering their similarities is pretty darn cool.
So, whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving this week or Thanksgivukkah, use it as a time for reflection on community and gratitude. You never know what nuggets of wisdom or moments of awakening and change will arise.
To be resilient/to have resilience is to be able to quickly “bounce back” or “recover from” a traumatic/stressful experience. It’s the ability to self-regulate, self-soothe, and get grounded when times are tough.
How do you find your resilience?
Resilience develops when we learn to effectively self-regulate. When we develop the ability to recognize the interconnectivity between our minds and our bodies, noticing their effect on one another, we give our nervous system a chance to reset itself. As we gain resources, our resilience increases, allowing us to “bounce back” more readily than when we are dysregulated. Ultimately, your resources should come from within, because wherever you are, there you are. You can’t escape yourself (trust me, I’ve tried).
Tap into your resources:
Breathe – Breathing is our most magnificent resource. It’s portable and it’s always with us. Exhaling longer than your inhale can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, our internal ER. Try this simple breathing exercise:
Sit in a quiet space where you can relax. Softly close your eyes and begin to notice your breath:
Inhale – one
Exhale – two
Inhale – three
Exhale — four
Do this until you get to 10. Repeat 3 times.
This is a simple mindfulness technique that invites calm. Your parasympathetic nervous system can jump in here, slowing the heart beat and cooling the breath.
Meditation and yoga: both of these are contemplative practices that invite you to get back in touch with your internal mechanisms. With practices like meditation and yoga, your internal resources have permission to flourish.
Do we all have it?
Stressful events happen…to all of us. How we recover from them and process them is contingent on our personal histories. For example, if we are raised in an environment where we are silenced and unheard, then managing stress will be reminiscent of that: we may squash it, bury it, or set it aside. We will try to “deal with it.” In reality, we aren’t dealing with anything when we do that; in fact, we are denying it and allowing it to fester. At the same time, if we are raised in an environment where communication is encouraged, and feelings are met with understanding, one’s resilience to stress will tend to be higher.
Is it easier for some to access resilience than it is for others?
I believe that most people can develop resilience if they have a support system in place and encouragement to work with their shadows and unpack their traumas. However, there needs to be an opportunity available to do this work, or the desire to seek help. If one comes from an impoverished environment, their ability to resource would be limited. At the same time, someone with more options would be more likely to have access to resources, making resilience more easily attainable. I often use myself as a reference when talking about overcoming adversity because I wasn’t provided with the best hand of cards. I definitely had a few jokers in there. What I did have was a deep desire to change my circumstances. This gave my resilience a chance to develop and for that I am grateful. Being an at-risk teen didn’t provide me with a lot of outside resources.
At Visions, we have a remarkable staff of trauma-informed therapists to help families develop resilience. We are forward thinking in our approach to trauma, recognizing that each person requires an individualized process, and understanding the challenges people are faced with when doing this work. At the core, we are lighting the internal fire of hope and healing in our families, empowering each client to discover their ability work with their difficulties in more sustainable, healthy ways. Our nervous systems respond well to kindness and compassion, and with support, these actions can begin to come from ourselves. It means we have to muddle through the shame and grief that plagues us, and give ourselves permission to heal. Recovery is possible; resilience is possible; you are possible.
“There’s only one thing harder than living in a home with an adolescent — and that’s being an adolescent,” according this recent article in Time Healthland. I think they’re spot on. It’s tough being a teen: they’re on an emotional rollercoaster, managing ubiquitous hormones, issues with friends, annoying parents, and that ever-growing pile of homework and subsequent pressure to be the best…at pretty much everything. I’d say that’s stressful. Teens certainly tend to blame their parents and/or siblings for most things, partly because they are the mainstay in their lives and partly because it’s they’re the easiest scapegoats. Parents, at that point, are considered nagging, nit-picky pests, right? Well, not entirely. A recent study by researchers from Seoul National University, UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, suggest that arguments at home may spillover to an adolescent’s social circle, and vice-versa. In other words, there tends to be a significant carry-over from one area of a teen’s life to another. Parents I know will often talk about how a rough night at home might translate to a bad day at school and how issues at school are likely to play out at home. Truthfully, teens, at their very core, can easily be thrown off-balance when trying to emotionally process all of this tumult at once, particularly with the cognitive complexities of their brains working earnestly against them. It’s a lot to manage.
Interestingly, kids with siblings are often better equipped with handling conflict. As Jeffrey Kluger says in his book The Sibling Effect, “Fighting is not just an unfortunate part of growing up, it’s an essential part.” He says it “serves as a sort of dress rehearsal for the outside world,” which gives kids a chance to practice “conflict resolution and avoidance and the subtle art of knowing when to assert yourself and when it’s best to stand down.” I would imagine this could also hold true for a child who’s gone to pre-school, though this isn’t always the case. Environments that introduce varying personalities at a young age are invaluable in teaching the life-long lesson of conflict resolution. Surely, be it via the push and pull of sibling relations or even early education, this is a tool for having less conflict at school and in the world at large. What does this mean for only children? Since they don’t have an inbuilt battering ram (a sibling), they need to learn their conflict-resolution skills from parents, teachers, and the like. It’s not going to be as intuitive of a process though, because the circumstances are significantly different. More on this in another blog.
As parents, the question is always, “What do we do?” Again, teaching, both verbally and by example the ins and outs of positive conflict resolution at a young age is the most helpful tool we have (along with keeping our cool and becoming aware of our child’s triggers). If that didn’t happen, and a child got off on the wrong foot, new efforts to teach this aren’t lost. It may take time. It may take extra doses of patience. It may take additional rides on the rollercoaster. It may even take an intervention by a therapist. Regardless, children do tend to be resilient, and even when we don’t think they’re listening, most of the time, they really are. They are just doing so in their own way—a way that isn’t always convenient for us as parents.
The bottom line is, as our teens learn new ways of conflict resolution, parents need to hone their own conflict-resolution skills. Just as teens can’t blame everything on their parents, neither can parents blame it all on their kids. At the end what we have is a family problem, requiring a family solution.