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Adolescent Treatment Program

About Adolescent Treatment

At Menninger, we seek to uncover why adolescents have gone off course and restore their willingness and ability to establish and maintain secure, trusting relationships. We help teens and families begin this complex process by identifying and repairing psychological deficits while building upon their inherent strengths.

Treatment Philosophy

Developmental neurobiology and attachment theory guide our treatment philosophy, while mentalization-based treatment (MBT) serves as the foundation. MBT is a form of psychodynamic psychotherapy co-developed by Peter Fonagy, PhD. It is supported by the scientific study of neurobiology and years of research related to attachment. With MBT, patients improve their mentalizing capacity, meaning their ability to reflect on their own internal mental states and the states of others. This helps improve emotion regulation and relationships.
We also offer other evidence-based treatment modalities, including methods from dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), a skill-building form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) designed to help teens reduce self-destructive behaviors that interfere with relationships and treatment engagement. Patients may also be exposed to acceptance and commitment therapy and CBT. 
We also stress caring for an adolescent in the context of the family, which is why family therapy is a critical part of treatment at Menninger. Patient and family resources are also available to enhance individuals' understanding of mental health issues. We also encourage families to participate in Menninger's Family Education Day.

Treatment Overview

ATP is a stabilization and assessment program that combines testing, assessment, therapy and psychoeducational groups with time for reflection and recreation. We make treatment engaging, playful and interactive to promote involvement, learning and a willingness to continue in treatment following their time at Menninger. 
Our team works with the patient, family and referring clinicians to create consensus around what the treatment objectives should be for each patient’s stay. These objectives are identified during the first week of admission.
Patients undergo psychological testing, and if warranted, neuropsychological testing. Teens generally participate in individual therapy twice a week and family therapy one to two times per week. Group psychotherapy is held two times per week. In addition, there are multiple psychoeducational, process and skill-building groups each day.
Adolescents who need help with substance abuse meet with an addictions counselor, complete addictions assessments and attend special groups. Adolescents who also have an eating disorder receive support from our Eating Disorders Services.
In addition, patients participate in daily community meetings, where they practice assertiveness and relationship skills, among others, in a safe, nurturing environment.
As part of treatment, patients develop a personal wellness plan and a relapse prevention plan if needed, which they update throughout their stay. They are also active participants in both treatment and discharge planning.

Key Concepts

At the heart of our program are these key concepts:
  • Building resiliency while addressing core issues
  • Teaching skills related to reflectiveness, empathy, self-compassion, affect regulation, self-agency, boundaries and improved relationships
  • Synthesizing DBT and MBT
  • Creating highly individualized treatment programming
  • Offering a therapeutic milieu, also referred to as a compassionate community
  • Offering psychoeducational, process and skill-building groups that cut across diagnoses and help engage teens in treatment