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A-Z Teen Health Glossary


At Paradigm Austin, we strongly believe in limiting the number of youth we treat at one time, in order to ensure the highest staff-to-youth ratio possible. With this said, our treatment setting may have between six and twelve teens at any time, which we have found profoundly supports our ability to provide the best care possible, in myriad ways. This is one of the core principles that sets Paradigm apart, and creates a supportive environment where teens are set up to engage in meaningful, life-changing work, from the very start.

We offer both private and semi-private rooms, and also take careful consideration in creating roommate accommodations that are supportive to the overall treatment setting and experience. If your teen prefers a private room, please contact us directly as early as possible, so we can make arrangements accordingly.

On average, teens stay at Paradigm Austin for between 30-45 days. Our program is designed to be holistic, intensive, and comprehensive, so that teens can make significant, meaningful changes in 30 or so days. This allows teens to wholly focus on their recovery and healing during their time here, and then return to their lives, in a relatively brief amount of time. What we find is that when treatment is focused and individually designed according to each teen’s needs, 30 days is very often long enough for teens to make powerful and sustainable life changes. In some cases, where teens and/or parents feel necessary, a continuation of two or so weeks will be discussed, in order to support and ensure the teen’s goals and progress. Such decisions are considered on a case-by-case basis.

We take great pride in the extraordinary team of professionals that make up our team. All Paradigm Austin team members are licensed or certified in their fields, and have devoted their lives to working with teens and families. Beyond extensive training and experience, our therapists and other team members are uniquely skilled and dedicated to providing treatment by addressing the deeper causes and challenges in teens’ lives, rather than only focusing on symptoms and outer behaviors. This means every teen’s treatment plan is uniquely suited to his or her personal experience, rather than just the accompanying diagnosis. This therapeutic approach and attitude is something we take much pride in and is a cornerstone of the Paradigm Austin difference.

At Paradigm Austin, we believe that every aspect of the treatment environment must be carefully considered and in this sense, the client population carries significant importance. Because the needs and challenges of teens vary so greatly, we have a screening process that ensures teens’ varying needs can be fully met, while also ensuring that each teen is a good fit for the larger Paradigm program. In order to ensure the safety and well-being teens under our care, we do not accept clients with any history of sexual offense, gang affiliation, violence, fire starters, and/or any behaviors we believe may put other teens at risk. Whereas numerous other treatment programs don’t have admissions criteria, and also don’t carefully consider the peer dynamics of clients in the facility, this screening process is primary and integral to the treatment we provide.

While at Paradigm Austin, each teen will have individual therapy session every day, while in treatment. We believe these individual sessions are integral to the teen’s ability and likelihood to deeply and consistently engage and progress through the treatment process. This time is in addition to other daily group sessions, including peer and family group time, as well as numerous other therapeutic activities. It’s important to note that while we strongly believe in the group therapy model, we implement it as a supplement to individual therapy time. To this end, we find that in programs where group therapy is relied on too heavily, teens will miss valuable opportunities to create and benefit from the one-on-one sessions, which we believe is very often where the most significant growth takes place.

We believe that not only do parents have the rights to know who operates any given treatment program, but we strongly encourage parents to ask these questions for any treatment program they’re seriously considering for their child. The complete bios and information on the founders and operators of Paradigm Austin are listed on our website and are accessible to parents, preceding and throughout the treatment process. The founders have not only developed the treatment approach and design, but continue to oversee and participate in the daily operation of the program. We are strong believers in clear, honest, and direct communication and to this end, make great efforts to foster a healthy environment of communication, at every level. One of the ways this is possible is because the founders are still also the owners and leaders of the company and available to parents and families, to answer questions and communicate openly.

We understand that academics are a primary responsibility for teens and very often teens who are struggling with mental illness and/or substance abuse are having trouble at school, as well. Many physical symptoms that accompany these conditions make it difficult to concentrate in class and moderate stress levels and furthermore, the emotional and mental strain of many conditions can be very at odds with studying, focusing in class, and following up on school work. Because of these academic challenges, many of the teens in this position feel discouraged, if not hopeless, regarding the collegiate education they once hoped for. At Paradigm Austin, we’ve designed a comprehensive education program that addresses these academic challenges so that teens can make substantial forward steps with their schooling, while in treatment.

Our educational program begins with an educational assessment which all teens receive, upon admission to Paradigm Austin. Our on-site teacher then works with the teen’s primary therapist to design a thorough educational plan which supports teens to meet their short-term and longer term academic goals, including managing current studies, while also working to help teens complete past work and get back on track, overall. In some cases, in partnering with families, our team might also coordinate directly with the teen’s home schools, in identifying specific goals and efforts that should be focused on. To meet these goals, the teens have specially designated school work time every day, as well as time to work with the on-site teacher, study time, and the opportunity to set additional study hours, with one of our tutors. We find that the combination of Academic Support Services we offer helps teens to not only regain academic standing, but their scholastic confidence as well, and they’re able to return to their schools, prepared to succeed.

At Paradigm Austin, we do not ask teens to spend their valuable therapeutic time doing house chores. We have a full-time housekeeping staff and personal chef that take care of all of our household needs and we want teens to focus on their fullest engagement of treatment and practices of self-care, during their time with us. We believe that this time in treatment should be extremely focused, intensive, and intentional, which is why we value teens’ time and do not allow for- nor design- activities that simply waste time.

While it may sound surprising, there are still a number of treatment programs which use excessive chores, household duties, and other tasks, as time fillers and/or consequences. We believe in neither of these techniques and do not adhere to this practice. While at Paradigm Austin, participants are simply required to pick up after themselves around the house and maintain their own bedrooms. Otherwise, their job during their time is here is to focus on how to best take care of themselves and engage in their treatment process fully and meaningfully, every day.

We believe our extensive diagnostic assessments are integral to our overall success as a leading teen treatment center. In order to create treatment plans and implement approaches that are best suited to a teen’s particular needs, all participants are given multiple assessments upon admission to Paradigm Austin. This assessment and treatment-design process includes the teen meeting with his or her lead therapist; a Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist; a licensed clinical psychologist; a Counselor specifically for Bio-Psychosocial assessment; our Medical Director; our Nutritionist; and our lead-Teacher, who will help in education assessment and design. Following this process, these team members then work cohesively to design a treatment plan that successfully addresses and fits the needs of each teen, according to each present perspective. The resulting treatment plan and experience is specific, comprehensive, and holistic.

Understandably, this exhaustive team approach to assessment takes more time initially, but we find that there is no substitute, when looking at the resulting specificity and success of the treatment teens here receive. It’s important to recognize how different this is from many treatment centers, which treat the diagnostic process hastily, and often are conducted by an unlicensed staff member, who is essentially trying to spot any combination of symptoms which may require diagnosis and evaluation by a licensed therapeutic professional. As unfortunately common as this practice is, it leaves teens extremely vulnerable to important factors and needs going overlooked, until they are already well into the treatment process. This delay of valuable information often causes teens to have slower progress in treatment and therefore, requires them to stay substantially longer. We feel strongly that this is very unfair and dishonest to teens and their families, who should not be responsible for ensuring proper diagnosis is taking place, on top on everything else they are already currently faced with.

We believe that involvement of the family therapy work is integral to providing meaningful and successful treatment to teens and as such, incorporate a significant number of therapeutic sessions that involve teens and families, together. With this said, we understand that it’s not possible for all family members to be present in person.

Therefore, in order to accommodate all participating family members, we offer services via telephone and Skype, and our therapists work collaboratively with family members, to make sure these sessions can take place. We also strive to make ourselves readily available to parents and other family members in order to ensure the best communication possible at all times, and have support services available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Some of the many therapeutic programs that family members may participate in during their teens’ time with us might include but are not limited to: Parent Effectiveness training, Family Therapy Group, Multi-Family Therapy Group, Parent Support Services, Sibling Support Groups, and Individual therapy sessions. We take great pride in the wonderful work out therapists do with family members and the collaborative family approach we’re able to support, at Paradigm Austin.

Our extensive experience working with young people has shown us that ultimately, meaningful changes that teens make during treatment must come from teens’ inner motivation. Most often, this motivation is tied to the teens’ understanding of how the efforts and changes will directly impact their everyday lives and well-being. To this end, the goals we help teens set are only those which are directly applicable to their larger treatment and life goals, overall. When teens in treatment are encouraged to win points, phase systems, or other privileges, as a way of modifying behavior, we find this to be both a waste of time and also a distraction from the important transformations teens should be concentrated on.

First designed and implemented in the 1970s, these behavior modification approaches were never successful and yet, continue to be used in numerous teen treatment centers today. Very often what we find is that treatment centers implement these point or phase system approaches as a way of controlling teens’ behavior and also creating a one-size-fits-all approach, in order to maximize the facility’s time and money. While the financial savings in such a treatment facility is inarguable, we believe that such programs are a disservice to teens and families that are making substantial efforts to create meaningful changes, which we find requires a much more precise and sophisticated approach.

Yes. But it is imperative to distinguish between gender specific treatment and gender exclusive treatment. Gender specific treatment allows programs to focus on the unique needs experienced by young men and women during the challenging transition of adolescence. This is very different, however, from gender exclusive treatment in which programs treats only one gender, or segregate genders.

The latter approach can easily create a dynamic where important issues are avoided rather than addressed. If an issue is going to arise related to how an individual relates to the opposite gender, we want that issue to come up during the course of treatment so that we may address it accordingly. What we want to avoid is creating an artificial, single gender environment in which the teen may thrive, only to then return to a co-gendered world.

Numerous studies support our belief that it’s more effective to treat young people in a co-gendered setting, as this best reflects real life. The end result of effective treatment should be a young person empowered with the skill and knowledge base required to have appropriate, healthy relationships, with persons of both genders.

We take the safety, trust, and confidentiality of all of our families very seriously at Paradigm Austin. All employees sign a strict confidentiality agreement and complete an extensive background check. We are extremely protective of our therapeutic environment and as such, do not allow media or other such community members into the facility. Our standard practice of confidentiality exceeds the regulations of the industry across the board and we’ve proud to say we’ve never had any breach of confidentiality at Paradigm Austin.

Adolescent therapeutic treatment is starkly different from adult treatment in numerous ways, and requires different knowledge, skills, approach, and process, accordingly. First of all, adolescence is an unparralel time of development, as teens are developing on emotional, physical, and social levels. Because of this, teens have unique needs that correlate to these developments, such as hormonal factors, brain development, and social pressures, just to name a few. With this said, we know from both research and experience that there are very specific strategies and approaches in working with teens that differentiates the treatment from that of any other age group. To this end, we pride ourselves in maintaining a team of individuals who are committed to working with young people and have dedicated their lives toward this. We feel strongly that teens do best when they’re in treatment with mental health professionals that are focused solely on this work, rather than practitioners who offer youth services, but predominantly treat adults. At Paradigm Austin, we exclusively treat adolescents.

Paradigm Austin specializes exclusively in residential treatment for teens, ages 13-17. We pride ourselves in offering treatment programs that don’t end in us simply passing teens onto other therapeutic programs, but instead, prepare teens to be successful, as they return into their lives. We believe this focus on adolescent treatment is reason for our success.

Yes. We strongly believe that while treatment can be a challenging time, it’s also a time to heal and strengthen family relationships, and healthy, frequent, open communication is a huge part of this. Therefore, we’re very supportive and encouraging of teens’ communication with their families and make every effort to incorporate this as part of each teen’s treatment. As such, you may call your teen any time and your teen may also call you any time she or he wishes, so long as it’s deemed as appropriate, by the teen’s lead therapist. Each Saturday, we have family visitation days, which include several therapeutic family groups and sessions. If you’re not able to join during a Saturday, we’re always happy to work with you in making alternative arrangements, to visit on another day. We also understand that sometimes there are special occasions that occur while the teen is in treatment, such as a wedding or similar event. In these instances, we’re happy to work with families on a case-by-case basis, in order to find a way to allow the teens to participate in these important family events.

We are always supportive of teens finding the therapeutic program which best fits the teen and family’s needs, even if that program isn’t Paradigm Austin. There are a wide range of wilderness and/or experiential program offerings and some offer quality behavioral and clinical services. We believe that in choosing a program, it’s important for families to first understand and identify how the teen’s treatment goals line up with a program’s treatment process. Along these lines, there are some pivotal questions we encourage families to always ask of programs, when making a decision for their teen. For instance, how many teens are in the program at once? How many individual treatment sessions will your teen receive? How many of the adolescents are able to return home following their 45-90 day stay? Are families able to participate in the teen’s treatment and if so, how often? What’s the program’s diagnostic process and treatment design process? How does the program support and facilitate familial growth and healing throughout the teen’s therapeutic process? What are the credentials of the owners and facilitators of the program? We believe that asking questions and taking the time to find a program that meets your teens needs best is a crucial step toward a teen and family’s long-term recovery.

We always welcome any of the teens’ therapists or treatment professionals to collaborate with us, during the teen’s time with us. We find that in general, it greatly benefits teens to have the support of people that are already actively engaged in their well-being. While this of course varies according to the teen, we often work to include positive influences in the teens’ lives, such as therapists, mentors, teachers, coaches, and/or health practitioners. We find that collaborating in this way to join in support of the teen not only expedites and furthers the teen’s goals during treatment but also helps make returning to his or her life even smoother, when that time comes.

At Paradigm Austin, we’re uniquely qualified to support teens and families that are navigating the legal system, during and throughout the teen’s treatment process. Not only do we understand that sometimes, legal issues can lead to teens getting treatment, but we’re also specialized in assisting teens and families in understanding the ins and outs of this process. We have numerous team members that can advise parents; court liaisons that can assist the families throughout the process; and we also have relationships with numerous judges who, who recognize and value our track record, working with young people. We’re confident in these situations because we believe fully in our approach and resources to support the teen to full and lasting recovery, which goes a long way when dealing with the legal system.

With this said, we want to emphasize that our overall goal, in helping teens through these situations, is not simply to assist them in avoiding the consequences of their behavior. Rather, our primary goal is always to help teens to address the most underlying, emotional and mental needs at play, so that they can fully heal and recover from behavioral and/or substance abuse conditions. Along these lines, we understand that adolescents occasionally get into legal trouble because of reckless behavior or lapse of judgment, and we’d rather support the teens to make substantial changes than to have their lives permanently negatively affected, accordingly.

It’s important to recognize that every young person’s story is different and people come to treatment at different times. Sometimes teens seek out treatment options themselves, while others may be directed toward treatment from either parents, family members, or other loved ones. What we’ve seen over years of working with families is if there is ever any hindsight on navigating the treatment decision, it’s that they wish they would have done it sooner and aren’t sure why they waited so long. Very often, teens and families believe that maybe treatment is only reasonable once the teens have hit bottom. Generally speaking, this is an unhealthy, destructive attitude to have toward a young person’s treatment. First of all, young people tend to be incredibly strong-willed and resilient and shouldn’t be pushed to the edge of their strength, especially if they’re asking for help. Research shows us that for the majority of teens will wait far longer than they should have to enter treatment and that furthermore, the earlier teens get treatment, the easier and more successful treatment will be. This holds true for mental health as well as substance abuse conditions. For any parents making the decision of when their teens should enter treatment, we always advise to do so as soon as possible, especially following the onset of symptoms. Even if at first teens may be resistant to beginning, we can work with them to help them find motivation and value in their time here, and even gain hope in looking toward better lives.

Paradigm does accept payment from the majority of insurance providers. We are always happy to assist families in verifying the specific benefits of their providers, as well as the necessary authorization needed, to begin treatment. Please call us directly if you have specific questions about this process.

We are always happy to work with families, to explore a number of different financing options we offer here at Paradigm Austin. The bottom line is we always want young people to find the absolute best treatment fit for them and are here to work with you to find the way to make this work, both financially and otherwise.

At Paradigm Austin, we design virtually every step and effort of your treatment around the day you go home and return to your life. We coordinate efforts and approaches in your treatment plan to focus on supporting you with knowledge, skills, and resources that will be directly applicable to your everyday life. In that sense, we’re not just seeking to help you recover and feel better while at Paradigm Austin; instead, we want to do meaningful work with you here that translates into you succeeding and even thriving, once you return home. In addition to the direct therapeutic preparation we do, we also provide FREE AFTERCARE services for families and teens, once they leave Paradigm Austin, and can provide these services either by phone, in person, or over Skype. From the day you arrive at Paradigm Austin to the day you go home and beyond, we’re here to support you, every step of the way.

If you have any additional questions we haven’t answered here, please call us. We strongly believe that reaching out for help is the first and one of the most important steps on the road to recovery and meaningful change, and we’re always here to assist you, in any ways we can. More than anything else, at Paradigm Austin we’re dedicated to supporting young people, and are here to help, however we can.