During childhood and adolescence, youth will inevitably act out negatively in a number of ways. Many times this is due to the fact that they are simply testing their limits; trying to find some semblance of independence. Other times, however, they may be acting out as the direct result of a mental health condition over which they seem to have no control. In situations such as these, the staff at Desert Hills has designed specific programming options that are tailored to meet the needs of youth who have found themselves in a downward spiral of destructive behaviors. When children and adolescents act out in a manner in which they are repeatedly getting into fights with peers, are blatantly disobeying rules and defying authority figures, and are damaging property, it is possible that they are suffering from conduct disorder. While the consequences that can arise as a result of the behaviors that are characteristic of this mental health condition can cause great disruption in lives of those afflicted by it, there are treatment options available that can help put an end to this devastation cycle of maladaptive behaviors.
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Desert Hills provides a full continuum of behavioral healthcare services that range from sub-acute residential treatment to community-based programs for children, adolescents, and their families. Since its opening in 1990, Desert Hills has grown from a small residential program to the largest and most respected provider of behavioral health services in the state of New Mexico, offering three different locations where individuals can access services. In order to ensure that we are offering the highest quality of care possible while meeting all of our patients unique needs, we provide ongoing training for and supervision of all our staff members, making sure they are up-to-date on the latest evidence-based treatment modalities. Because we are able to offer each child and adolescent customized and personal care, we can address the specific problems that the presence of conduct disorder has imposed on your child’s life and help him or her develop the skills needed to return to living the healthy, happy life that or she deserves to be living. At Desert Hills, we are dedicated to not only improving the lives we touch, but to helping to change the lives of those we serve, one child at a time.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment
If you have a child who you believe is suffering from conduct disorder, it is possible that you are constantly being confronted with troublesome behaviors that are causing you monumental concern. Children and adolescents with conduct disorder tend to act out in repeated, unprovoked episodes of anger and aggression, they tend to bully others, they often play with fire in a direct attempt to cause destruction, they may act cruelly towards animals, and they likely blatantly defy any rules that are imposed on them. The behaviors of these children can rapidly wreak havoc onto the lives of everyone around them, leaving you, as the parent or guardian, concerned as to what you can do to intervene. The first, and most important thing that you can do for your child is to take him or her to be evaluated by a mental health professional. In doing so, an accurate diagnosis can be determined and appropriate treatment interventions can be explored. The following are examples of other steps that you can take as you begin guiding your child down the path to recovery:
- Educate yourself on conduct disorder. By gaining as much knowledge as you can about this mental health condition, it will aid in helping you develop a sense of empathy towards what your child is experiencing. It may help you come to understand that your child does not want to be behaving in the way that he or she is, but that he or she lacks the skills to control his or her impulses. By having this education and developing this sense of empathy, you will better be able to help and support your child as he or she begins the treatment process.
- Anticipate resistance to treatment. More than likely, the thought of having to get treatment will elicit feelings of anger and hostility in your child. However, it is important that you do not allow such negative temperament to dissuade you from pursuing getting your child the help that he or she needs.
- Adhere to any recommendations that are offered by the mental health professional with whom your child completes an evaluation. Follow his or her suggestions for treatment options and be an active part of your child’s therapeutic process.
- Learn ways in which you can encourage positive behaviors and implement behavior management strategies at home so that your child is receiving consistent feedback in all areas of his or her life.
Why Consider Treatment at Desert Hills
Due to the severity of the behaviors that often accompany the presence of conduct disorder, the range of negative long-term repercussions can seem endless. When left untreated, children and adolescents with this mental health condition may be facing a future of academic failure, interaction with the legal system, and overall isolation due to an inability to develop and maintain healthy interpersonal relationships. Fortunately, such adverse consequences can be avoided when proper treatment is implemented. Residential treatment programs have proven effectiveness in helping children overcome severe behavioral disturbances. In these settings, children are monitored 24/7 for safety purposes, yet this consistent monitoring also affords them access to mental health professionals at all hours of the day and night with whom they can come to with any presenting issues or concerns. Through a variety of therapeutic interventions, including psycho-educational sessions and behavior modification strategies, children and adolescents with conduct disorder can learn to overcome their symptoms and regain control of their lives.
Program Philosophy and Benefits
At Desert Hills, our philosophy is based on the approach that treatment should be centered on patients and their families. We train, facility wide, on the Nurtured Heart Approach in order to provide our patients and their families with inner wealth and opportunities to grow. We are dedicated to using evidence-based treatment modalities on every unit to ensure that patients and their families have the highest likelihood of obtaining long-term, successful outcomes. It is our mission to provide high-quality, comprehensive behavioral and mental healthcare services to children, adolescents, and their families by offering a fully array of therapeutic interventions across a vast spectrum of care. All of our services are individualized, culturally sensitive, and fully centered on our patients and their families. The clinical emphasis at Desert Hills is placed on assessment, treatment planning, discharge, and aftercare planning, with the all-encompassing goal of preparing patients to have a successful future in home, at school, and within the community.
Types of Treatment Offered at Desert Hills
Here at Desert Hills, we have 10 distinct units, each of which features programming that is designed specifically to address the needs of a wide variety of populations. Each unit follows a chief treatment modality throughout its programming, which coincides with the needs of the patients on that particular unit. Desert Hills strives to use evidence-based treatment modalities on every unit in order to ensure that patients have the highest likelihood of obtaining long-term, successful outcomes. Described in more detail below are some of the services that Desert Hills affords our patients:
Medication management: Medication management is provided for all patients throughout each one of our treatment programs. This is done so as to make sure that each patient is fully supported in getting all of his or her medication needs taken care of, while simultaneously being properly monitored to ensure the therapeutic effectiveness of any medications that have been prescribed. For children and adolescents who are struggling with conduct disorder, psychotropic medications may be implemented in order to help alleviate some of the distressing symptoms that they are experiencing as a result. Such considerations will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Individual therapy: On each unit, patients are provided with at least one individual session per week. These sessions are meant to be a time where patients can meet with a therapist in a safe and confidential setting in order to process through specific concerns they are facing, keep track of personal treatment goals, and work on individual skills-building in order to more effectively cope with stresses and triggers.
Group therapy: Here at Desert Hills, all of our patients attend group therapy at a minimum of three times per week. These group sessions offer children and adolescents the opportunity to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Some of the topics that are covered in these groups, depending on the specific program that a patient is taking part in, include interpersonal effectiveness, conflict resolution, anger management, stress management, and correcting and replacing thinking errors. For those patients who are also struggling with substance abuse concerns, psychoeducational groups are held regarding the effect of substance abuse on the body, brain, and overall functioning.
Family therapy: Since family involvement is important to the overall success of recovery, we hold at least one family therapy session per week for each patient. Family therapy focuses on guiding and facilitating an open dialogue, as well as educating parents, caregivers, and other family members on the intervention skills that are being used in treatment. The process of doing so will help ensure the patient’s success long after discharge.
Educational services: Continuing one’s education while at Desert Hills is a very important part of our treatment program. Schooling at Desert Hills provides our patients with a positive, safe, and individualized place to learn and grow. All teachers communicate weekly with the treatment team, assuring consistency in the individual goals set for each student.
Additional services that are available depending upon each patient’s specific needs include:
- Services for deaf and hard of hearing patients (administered by deaf therapists and other mental health technicians that are trained in American Sign Language)
- Art therapy
- Music therapy
- Play therapy
- Equine therapy
- Canine therapy
- High and low ropes courses
- Peer council
- Red Rocks Group (a Native American peer group)
- Bilingual mobile assessments
- NA / AA meetings for patients who are struggling with substance abuse concerns
Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment
All patients from our residential treatment center have the opportunity to step down to one of our many outpatient care options, of which include the following:
Clinical day treatment program: This program allows patients to live at home, while also addressing any behavioral or academic issues they may have. These services are provided on a year-round basis for children and adolescents who are middle school through high school aged. There are both regular and special education services available, allowing students to earn summer credits and catch up if they have fallen behind academically. Additional services include group therapy and various experiential therapies.
Group homes: Designed to provide patients who are between the ages of 16 and 21 in need a structured home-based living situation, our group homes provide services that are focused on psychosocial skills development and functioning in the community.
Treatment foster care: This program is licensed and certified by the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department to license, train, and support treatment foster parents and treat children between the ages of 4 and 18 who are placed in their homes. TCF provides around-the-clock clinical supervisions, on-call therapy, and case management services.
Whatever your child’s continuing needs may be, Desert Hills provides a wide range of services that will be able to address any and all of those specific needs. We will do everything in our power to help your child overcome his or her concerns so that, upon leaving treatment, he or she can face the world with the strength and confidence needed to be productive and remain successful.