Adjustment disorder is a stress-related mental illness that is caused by any number of life changes. Everyone experiences changes in life such as a moving to a new city, starting at a different school, or being diagnosed with an illness. However, most of the time, children are able to adjust to these changes within a few months. It is when children continue to feel down or start to act in a self-destructive manner that they can be diagnosed with an adjustment disorder. Boys and girls with adjustment disorder tend to feel anxious, depressed, start to engage in risky behaviors, and often have thoughts of suicide. Day-to-day tasks become overwhelming, as they have a hard time adjusting to the new change in their life, which leads to serious consequences.
At Ascent Children’s Health Services, we have years of experience helping children and adolescents struggling with a variety of mental health problems such as adjustment disorder. If you suspect that your child is having trouble adjusting to changes in their life, call the friendly staff at Ascent today for an evaluation.
Why Seek Treatment for Adjustment Disorder?
The symptoms and effects of adjustment disorder will vary, presenting differently among each child. In general, the symptoms of adjustment disorder start within three months of the occurrence of a stressful life event. After a period of time, if this disorder is not treated, the stressful events will remain a part of your child’s life and if a new stressful situation arises, the same emotional struggles will occur again. These effects of this disorder will affect your child’s whole life, preventing them from going about their normal daily activities.
A therapy program that specializes in treatment of children who have mental and behavioral disorders has shown to be one of the most effective interventions for children and their families. Your primary care physician may suggest enrolling your child in an inpatient program like the children’s mental health program at Ascent that will help them to regain better control over their emotions. Through a number of different therapies, such as individual and group sessions and family therapy, your child will be able to process their feelings related to the stressful changes in their life. Outpatient therapy is often preferred because it will allow your child to remain in school, while receiving treatment for their disorder.
Program Philosophy and Benefits
At Ascent Children’s Health Services, our mission is to treat patients in a multidisciplinary, developmental, and therapeutic setting that maximizes their levels of development and readiness for entering the world. Through nurturing the whole child, our staff paves the way for each patient to take full advantage of their potential to achieve success in recovery and self-discovery. We recognize that each child is a unique person who has specific personal needs. By enhancing the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development of each child we serve while promoting independence, we can be sure that they receive the most appropriate and effective level of care. At Ascent, we offer comprehensive, individualized treatment plans and can provide a multitude of different therapies under one roof.
Treatment Options for Adjustment Disorder at Ascent Children’s Health Services
After receiving a referral, our treatment team will perform a variety of developmental and mental health assessments upon your child. Our multidisciplinary team of licensed, experienced, and qualified staff include developmental pediatricians, pediatric psychologists, psychological examiners, licensed counselors, social workers, audiologists, dieticians, early childhood developmental specialists, developmental technicians, and licensed therapists – including occupational therapists, speech therapists, and physical therapists. The results of these assessments will help us to develop a treatment plan that will best suit all of your child’s needs. The treatment plan we will create for your child will be completely based on the types of therapy you child needs to excel and recover from their disorder. We find that a combination of medication management and therapeutic techniques is the most effective method for treating adjustment disorder.
Medication may be used in the first stages of treatment to help manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety associated with adjustment disorder. Over time, as the anxiety and depressive symptoms are better controlled as a result of the development of better coping strategies, medication dosages may be reduced or eliminated altogether. Your child’s medication will be managed by their treatment team on a continuous basis, making any necessary changes if needed. It is important to note that when treating adjustment disorder, medication is not used as the sole treatment because it will only temporarily relieve the symptoms, while psychotherapy will help to provide long-term relief of symptoms.
Individual therapy can be very useful for helping to lessen or alleviate the ongoing symptoms of adjustment disorder. Through individual therapy your child can learn to identify their stressors and learn better coping skills. Some methods in individual therapy may include stress management and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Group therapy is another common form of treatment used at Ascent that provides your child with the support of other peers their age who are going through similar issues. In group sessions children can work together to identify appropriate social interactions, learn to identify and manage emotions, or learn consequences for their actions.
Family therapy is a very important aspect of the treatment process— it is held at least once a month and is conducted under the direct supervision of one of your child’s doctors. Sessions are psychotherapy based and are designed to work on communication consistency and behavior modification. The goal of family therapy is to get everyone on the same page when it comes to the child’s treatment process. Additionally, therapists can help the family learn more appropriate interactions.
Finally, in addition to traditional therapy methods Ascent provides some experiential methods that may be included in your child’s treatment plan. These may include:
- Therapy gyms
- Sensory rooms
- Handwriting Without Tears
- Nutritional consultations and meal plans
Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment
At Ascent, our initial evaluations will help us to determine which level of care and treatment program will be best suited for your child’s mental health or developmental needs. Our health care center offers a day program, school based program, and a summer program for all of our patients. Additionally, we have 24 hour crisis intervention should an emergency arise. Our CHMS and RSPMI programs allow children and their families to receive rehabilitation, early intervention, and prevention for long-term disabilities. Our CHMS services include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
When your child no longer requires our structured services, we take the time to help your child transition back into their home and usual school based setting. We have a formal discharge process that involves providing your family with education and community resources needed for continued recovery success.