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Finding An Accurate Diagnosis For Your Teen

accurate diagnosis for teen

Finding An Accurate Diagnosis For Your Teen

Parents are highly intuitive when it comes to noticing changes in their child’s behavior, but sometimes these changes feel inexplicable. It is hard to pinpoint when your quiet, sensitive child starts to worry about everything or when your independent, self-sufficient child starts to push boundaries and stops following rules at home. While more parents are becoming aware of signs of depression and anxiety, it can be difficult to understand what these labels mean in terms of finding appropriate treatment. That’s where comprehensive assessments for teens can help.

Comprehensive assessments can help professionals understand how to individualize support based on your teen’s needs–whether that is transition planning, finding a specialty program, or making appropriate medication changes. 

What Does Psychological Testing Look Like in a Mental Health Hospital?

Many families don’t immediately turn to a full diagnostic assessment for struggling teens. Instead, they might consult a local psychiatrist and get a brief analysis that comes up with a single diagnosis, which may lead to medication. Psychological testing on an outpatient basis usually consists of a series of self-assessment questionnaires where questions are posed in a “black and white” format. When the only options are “yes” or “no” to these questions, there isn’t much room for the complexity of human experience and situational factors. 

Many teens that come to ViewPoint are misdiagnosed in an outpatient setting, so ViewPoint focuses on diagnosing its patients accurately. To do this, they continuously reassess each teen in order to catch any possible changes in diagnosis. After completing traditional psychological testing, we continue with individual and group therapy as well as residential and academic activities designed to give a more comprehensive and clear assessment. This relationship-based approach to psychological testing operates on the assumption that professionals get to know individuals over a period of time and across different settings, rather than in a formal test-taking environment.

Why Do We Offer a Comprehensive Assessment Process?

Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, explains, “while none of these diagnoses will be completely off the mark, a diagnosis cannot always meaningfully describe who these patients are and what they suffer from. Given the complexity of mind, brain, and human attachment systems, we cannot come close to achieving that sort of precision relying solely on psychiatric diagnosis to inform treatment plans.” 

Van der Kolk proposes that the diagnostic process must go “beyond a tally of symptoms by taking into account the strengths that individuals develop and the creative energies they have mustered to survive.”

Our comprehensive diagnostic process involves a full medication evaluation, diagnostic assessment, and then continual reassessment through behavioral observation and group therapy. Our clinical staff and milieu staff work together and share insights from individual sessions and interactions in the milieu to determine how to best support teens and their families.

We believe that each piece of the puzzle is critical in capturing the entirety of your child.

How Do Situational Factors Affect Teen Mental Health? 

While diagnoses can help offer a framework for effective treatment strategies, we believe it is more important to focus on how specific symptoms or struggles affect other areas of a teen’s life, such as relationships, academics, and their self-esteem. 

The most common mental health issues in teenagers may be biological in basis but they are often triggered by situational factors, such as loss, rejection, transitions and social pressure. Teenagers may be more likely to appraise situations as stressful, as they often don’t have the skills to regulate their emotions or evidence that they can get through difficult situations successfully. 

For many teenagers, we recognize that their behavior while in our program does not match the symptoms they show at home, as they are protected from many of these situational factors. Integrating fun recreation activities and team-building activities in our clinical programming helps teens recognize their strengths and be their authentic selves. Our role is to help teens identify triggers and anticipate stressful scenarios, so that we can offer a variety of strategies that may work in these situations to manage feelings of stress and helplessness. Between DBT skills groups and specialty groups based on common themes in adolescence, teens have the opportunity to explore how different areas of their life affect their mental health and vice versa. 

ViewPoint Center Can Help 

ViewPoint Center is a specialty hospital for teens who struggle with depression and other mental health issues. Located near Salt Lake City, Utah, ViewPoint Center a comprehensive therapeutic assessment facility that is licensed and provides 24-hour nursing. Viewpoint offers comprehensive assessments. Post evaluation, treatment plans are established to meet the unique needs of each patient. By the end of the treatment period at ViewPoint, families have a clear understanding of the child’s diagnoses and are offered full guidance on how to move forward and seek proper treatment.

For more information about our assessment center, call 855-290-9682.