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Terminology Guide: Adolescent Mental Health Treatment Centers

Written by Evolve's Behavioral Health Content Team​:

Alyson Orcena, LMFT, Melissa Vallas, MD, Shikha Verma, MD, Ellen Bloch, LCSW, Lianne Tendler, LMFT, Megan Johnston, LMFT
Meet The Team >

What is an Adolescent Mental Health Treatment Center?

[seriesbox]Teen Treatment for Mental Health: A Guide to Terminology
Terminology Guide: Teen Rehab Centers
Terminology Guide: Teen Inpatient Treatment
Inpatient Treatment for Adolescent Depression
DBT Residential Treatment For Teens
Behavioral Treatment Centers for Youth[/seriesbox]
Adolescent mental health treatment centers – also known as mental health facilities for teens – are designed with one thought in mind: offering teens the help and support they need to manage the symptoms of their mental health disorder or disorders.

High quality adolescent mental health treatment centers offer individualized, evidence-based treatment plans for teens with:

  1. Mood Disorders
  2. Anxiety Disorders:
  3. Behavioral Disorders
  4. Non-Suicidal Self-Injury
  5. Personality Disorders
  6. Psychosis
    • Psychotic disorder
    • Brief psychotic disorder
  7. Schizophrenia
    • Schizoaffective disorder
    • Schizophreniform disorder
  8. Suicidality and/or suicidal ideation
    • Suicide attempts
    • Thinking or talking about suicide

Most adolescent mental health treatment centers and mental health facilities for teens also support teens with alcohol/substance use disorder and co-occurring disorders (when a person has more than one mental health disorder at the same time), but typically focus on teens with mental health and/or behavioral disorders. The best way to learn about whether a facility can support your teen’s specific needs is to contact the center and discuss your teen’s diagnosis or diagnoses. High quality adolescent mental health treatment centers will have a helpful, knowledgeable admissions team that can walk you through their specific program details.

Programming and Clinical Staff

Two important features of mental health treatment centers for adolescents are their program design and their professional staff.


These centers design programs with teens in mind. They create schedules that teens can follow, include complementary activities that engage their imagination, and strive to engage – or help teens rediscover – their passion and enthusiasm for life. While the specific makeup of each program varies by the center or facility, most mental health treatment centers include:

  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Experiential Therapies (yoga, mindfulness, exercise)
  • Expressive Therapies (art, music, drama, writing)
  • Academic time
  • Treatment-friendly evening activities
  • Treatment-friendly weekend outings

At a teen treatment center, each of the treatment components listed above is tailored for the teen population. Approaches that work for adults don’t always work for teens, and vice-versa. That brings us to the next thing that sets an adolescent mental health treatment center from a facility that supports adults: the staff.

Clinical and Support Staff

If you’re the parent of a teenager, you know it takes a special kind of person to work with teens. Whether you’re talking about teachers, coaches, or mental health professionals, you know not everyone has what it takes to connect with teens – and help them with compassion, empathy, and understanding – on a daily basis.

The psychiatrists, counselors, therapists, nurses, cooks, facility managers, and overnight staff – for residential facilities – choose to be exactly where they are. That means that during the course of their training or their career, they spent time working with adolescents – and found it fulfilling on both a professional and personal level. They realized that’s where their true skill and passion resides, and that’s where they’re meant to be: helping teens and families learn, grow, change, and start the journey to sustainable, long-term recovery.

How Treatment Centers Help Teens

The primary goal of all adolescent mental health treatment centers is to help a teenager learn to manage the symptoms of their mental health disorder so they can get back to what’s important: being a teenager. Teens learn the skills they need to get back to school, get back to extracurricular activities, and participate fully in their family and social lives.

At Evolve Treatment Centers, we create programs that help teens move from where they are now to where they want to be. To learn more about how we help teens and families change their lives for the better every day, click here.

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We are an expert team of behavioral health professionals who are united in our commitment to adolescent recovery and well-being.

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