Here at Desert Hills Hospital, we recognize that not all children are the same, which is why we offer a number of specialized residential treatment services that can treat multiple mental health disorders and behavioral difficulties, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trying to get through the day while struggling with the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder is no way to live. Posttraumatic stress disorder is a serious mental health condition that can develop as the result of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event where physical harm either occurred or was threatened. Such events may include car accidents, sexual assaults, or natural disasters. Symptoms of PTSD usually appear within three months of a traumatic event and can cause significant problems at school, in social situations, and within relationships.
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Desert Hills provides a continuum of behavioral health services ranging from sub-acute residential treatment to community based programs for children, adolescents, and their families. Since opening in 1990, Desert Hills has grown from a small residential program to the largest continuum of behavioral health services for the state of New Mexico, with three different locations where individuals can access services. In order to ensure we provide the highest quality of care possible while meeting all of our patients unique needs, we provide ongoing training and supervision of all 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 PTSD has caused in your child’s life. We are dedicated to changing lives, one child at a time.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment
If you suspect that your child is struggling with PTSD, it would be extremely beneficial to schedule an appointment with a mental health professional so that he or she can conduct a thorough assessment to identify your child’s exact issues and needs. Before going to your child’s appointment, make sure that you list any symptoms that you have witnessed in your child, any events or experiences they have gone through, and any additional information you can think of. The mental health professional will thoroughly assess your child and be able to make the most appropriate recommendation for treatment options. Here are some additional actions you can take to enhance the treatment process:
- Help your child follow his or her treatment plan
- Learn about PTSD
- Take care of yourself
- Talk to your child and continue to be supportive
- Consider joining a support group
Why Consider Treatment at Desert Hills
Children or adolescents who have PTSD are going to experience a number of different, often debilitating, symptoms. They may experience things such as flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the traumatic event. Having PTSD as a child or adolescent can upset one’s whole life; leading to depression or anxiety, eating disorders, and potentially suicidal thoughts and actions. This is why getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical in order to help reduce symptoms and improve functioning.
When your child or adolescent has become overwhelmed with the symptoms of PTSD and finds him or herself having difficulty functioning each day, an acute residential treatment program is often the best way for him or her to regain a sense of control over his or her life. Most often the treatment for PTSD includes psychotherapy but, in some cases, medication may be beneficial in alleviating some of the distressing symptoms that one is experiencing as a result of this illness. Both of these options for care can be provided in a residential treatment setting. Through a combination of different treatment methods, a residential program can help improve your child’s symptoms, teach him or her the skills needed to address his or her symptoms, and learn how to cope should the symptoms reappear in the future. Additionally, if your child is struggling with other problems related to PTSD, or as the result of a co-occurring disorder, a residential program can help with that as well.
Program Philosophy and Benefits
At Desert Hills, we believe that treatment should be strengths-based and should be centered solely on clients and their families. We train, facility wide, on the Nurtured Heart Approach in order to provide all of our clients and their families with inner wealth and opportunities to grow. It is our mission to provide high quality, comprehensive behavior and mental health services to children, adolescents, and their families. Treatment is provided through a continuum of care, ranging from sub-acute residential treatment to community-based programs. All of our services are individualized, culturally sensitive, and centered on clients and their parents/guardians. The clinical emphasis is placed on assessment, treatment planning, discharge, and aftercare planning. The goal is to prepare clients for 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 feature programming that is designed specifically to address the needs of various populations. Each unit follows a chief modality throughout their 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 to ensure that patients and their families have the highest likelihood of obtaining long-term, successful outcomes. Described in more detail below are some of the services that Desert Hills provides for our patients:
Medication management: Medication management is provided for all patients throughout each one of our treatment programs. This is done to ensure that each patient is getting all of his or her medication needs taken care of, while being properly monitored to ensure the therapeutic effectiveness of all medications. For children and adolescents with PTSD, medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety agents can help improve one’s symptoms and overall mood.
Individual therapy: On each unit, patients have a least one individual session per week. These sessions are meant to be a time where patients can meet with a therapist in a safe setting to process their trauma, work to overcome PTSD symptoms, and learn how to more effectively cope with stresses and triggers.
Group therapy: Here at Desert Hills, all of our patients attend group therapy 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 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, psycho-educational 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 used in treatment. The process of doing so will help ensure the patient’s success long after discharge.
Educational services: Continued education while at Desert Hills is a very important part of the treatment program. The school 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 specific patient needs include:
- Bilingual mobile assessments
- Peer council
- 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
- Play therapy
- Equine assisted therapy
- Canine therapy
- High and low ropes courses
- Music therapy
- Red rocks
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 a variety of experiential therapies.
Group homes: Designed to provide patients who are between the ages of 16 and 21 who are in need of a structured home-based living situation, our group home services are available to 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 trauma and learn to see the world as a safe place once again.