All Kinds of News for March 06, 2019
This month, Elevations RTC, a residential treatment center for teens ages 13-18, is highlighting clinical programming focused on attachment issues (or an “insecure attachment” as they are known clinically), the inability of individuals to develop and sustain secure attachments with others. The attachment process may have been disrupted by life experiences such as birth trauma, medical issues, divorce, death of a parent, or abuse by a trusted relative or friend.
“When detecting potential insecure attachments among students, my initial approach has always been to defer to attachment behavior theory,” comments Primary Therapist Phyllis Hawks, CMHC. “This theory explains that attachment issues are caused by certain situations (i.e. adoption, abusive primary caregiver, etc) that create an inability to form a secure bond with the primary caregiver. However, I’ve learned that this is not always the case. I found that some of my clients did form strong bonds with their primary caregiver. Most of the time, attachment issues can come from developmental trauma. This knowledge can be helpful in detecting potential insecure attachments; especially if specific trauma hasn’t been reported in the past and the student is experiencing trauma symptoms.”
For many students, their developmental trauma may include pre-verbal experiences which have contributed to the disruption of the attachment process. This means there are no words, memories, or images to therapeutically process or address.
“I’ve seen students feel hopeless about what the future looks like because they can’t remember anything related to the trauma which caused their attachment issues,” says Hawks. “When I explain how trauma is held in the body, and healing from these preverbal experiences is possible with somatic-based therapy (using physiological sensations as the primary role of reprocessing trauma), I’ve seen their hope surface.”
Hawks also provides students with psychoeducation on how trauma impairs the nervous system’s ability to interpret accurate ‘life threatening danger’; their (insecure attached) brain tends to communicate this danger when an actual threat is not present. “This information helps my clients gain awareness to assess their “window of tolerance” and whether their nervous system is in ‘hyperarousal’ or ‘hypoarousal’ in the moment,” comments Hawks. “With this awareness, they will be able to implement strategies they’ve learned to bring the nervous system back to baseline. I’ve observed that as students gain this self-awareness and psychoeducation, they gain a sense of safety, autonomy, and ‘control’ that empowers them to “dig deeper” in therapy and ultimately experience the needed healing of mind, heart, and body.”
Elevations RTC commonly works with adolescents who have experienced significant histories with mental health struggles and a level of disruption of attachment development.
“The therapeutic process is complex, as is the impact of those life experiences. Relationships heal relational trauma,” says Hawks. “Trust and safety in the therapeutic relationship is foundational to the healing process.”
For more information about clinical programming at Elevations RTC, please visit https://www.elevationsrtc.com/.
Elevations RTC is a unique residential treatment center that works with all students ages 13 - 18. Elevations offers guidance, support and relief to students struggling with issues like trauma, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, behavioral problems, and substance use. Elevations RTC is located in Utah and provides specialized, clinically intensive programs to struggling teens. For more information, please call 1-855-290-9681.