treating teenagers with dual diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis

Helping Teens Overcome Substance Abuse & Mental Health Disorders

Effective Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Teens

October 22, 2015

Mental health professionals at the Elk River Treatment Program (ERTP) offer the best dual diagnosis treatment for adolescents and teens. An integrated approach is used to treat the substance use problem and the mental health disorder simultaneously by the same treatment team.

The Dual Diagnosis Treatment Team at ERTP includes, but is not limited to:

  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
  • Licensed Psychologist
  • Licensed Professional Counselor - Supervisor
  • Licensed Professional Counselors
  • Qualified Substance Abuse Professional
  • Physicians
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Registered Nurses
  • Highly Qualified and State Certified Educators

Since ERTP treats boys and girls in grades 6 through 12, the education needs of our clients are also addressed. The academic curriculum at ERTP is accredited by the largest education improvement organization in the world: Cognia (formerly AdvancED and Measured Progress).

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

It is difficult to find expert dual diagnosis treatment for a child struggling with substance use and mental health challenges. Many programs claim to provide dual diagnosis treatment, but it is best to investigate staff credentials and program licensing before investing in any treatment program. ERTP is state licensed and nationally accredited in Behavioral Health Care by The Joint Commission.

Dealing with your child’s dual diagnosis can be heartbreaking, exhausting and sometimes isolating. Counselors at ERTP strongly encourage parents to seek therapeutic and emotional support at home while their child is in treatment. If a family therapist is not available in your area, seek individual therapy and/or a structured support group. We are happy to help. Call us at 866-906-8336.

Boundaries & Logical Consequences

At Elk River, discharge planning begins at admission. With that in mind, counselors encourage parents to work on a set of realistic boundaries for their child when he or she returns home. Staying within those boundaries is crucial to continued recovery.

Parents should also determine logical consequences for crossing boundaries. Again, it is imperative to stay consistent. For example, if a child is required, yet refuses to launder his/her own clothes, parents should not step in and wash their clothes. The logical consequence is that your child wears clothing that has not been laundered.

Although disruptive behavior should not be tolerated, a child should feel safe to appropriately communicate how they feel. Validating feelings is very important even if the parent disagrees with the child’s interpretation of a situation. ERTP uses group therapy on a daily basis to teach clients how to communication appropriately and effectively within a group. When the child returns home, the family is his or her "group."

Weekly parent workshops led by licensed professional counselors help parents learn to effectively listen to their children. Among the recommended reading for parents is “How to Talk so Kids will Listen and How to Listen so Kids will Talk,” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

Managing Dual Diagnosis

Parents are encouraged to be patient while their child recovers and learns to manage their dual diagnosis. The situation didn’t happen overnight and neither will recovery. It’s almost always a life-long recovery process. Continued education is vital to success. The more you learn about your child’s illness or issue, the more you’ll understand the family’s need for continued support. Websites like are excellent resources.

For more information about Elk River Treatment Program contact an admissions counselor at [email protected] or call (256) 518-9998.