Adolescent Relationship Struggles Causes and Treatment Options

Table of Contents

Adolescent Struggles To Form And Maintain Healthy Relationships (Causes and Treatment Options)

This guide teaches you:

  • What teen relationship struggles are
  • Causes and impacts of teen relationship struggles
  • What teen residential treatment is, and its various therapies
  • The best way to approach your teen about going to therapy
  • Factors to consider when choosing a teen residential treatment center

You have probably heard of adolescent relationship struggles and how teen residential treatment is instrumental in helping teens cope with such difficulties. We spend a significant part of our lives in relationships and teenagers are not an exception. Our relationships usually influence our lives positively and give us a feeling of satisfaction. Sometimes relationships also help reduce feelings of loneliness. It is the foundation of our social life and is crucial in the upbringing of children. However, it is not all smooth sailing or a walk in the park sometimes. There are external factors and pressures such as anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and communication breakdown that have led to relationship struggles, especially for teens.

The hallmark of this article is to discuss causes of relationship issues among teens and the best treatment for this since any behavioral issues are a fundamental challenge to the growth and wellness of teenagers.

What are Relationship Struggles?

Relationship struggles, also known as relationship problems, are significant behavioral, emotional, or psychological issues between individuals. For teens, most of their relationship struggles happen between them and their friends, siblings, and their parents.

Causes of Relationship Struggles in Teens

Some of the common causes of relationship struggle in teens include the following:

#1 Lack of Maturity

Maturity is a key ingredient in enabling you to commit to a relationship. Usually, teens are on a development journey; as such, they are yet to reach the pinnacle of maturity. As a result, teens in relationships find it difficult to connect with someone at a deeper level or to hold on to a relationship.

#2 Communication Problems

Communication is crucial to the success of any human relations. It is the only way a teen can express their feelings in a relationship. Teenagers are sometimes poor listeners; this means that when you continue to emphasize your perspective, they will see it as a nag.

#3 Life Changes

Most of us fear changes, and so when changes are introduced, we become apprehensive. During teenagehood, you undergo a series of physical, emotional, and social changes. Emotional changes will often affect how you feel, including feelings of shyness and insecurities that may affect your relationship. For instance, when you get insecure about your partner, you will not want to see them hanging out with other people; this will affect the level of trust in your relationship.

#4 Peer Pressure

As a teen, you always feel pressured to behave in a certain way when your peers surround you. Some of the teen behaviors may include your peers making you believe that committing to one partner is boring or that you must be intimate at an early age. These are behaviors that, if you adopt, your relationship will be impacted negatively because you will find it difficult to commit to a relationship.

#5 Abusive relationship

Not all relationships are smooth sailing. If you are in an abusive relationship with an abusive partner, you should seek help and alert your parents. You must remember that it is the abuser who is the problem and not you.

Relationship Struggles Are Not good For Teens

Relationships have positive and adverse effects on a teenager’s life. Teens who have experienced relationship struggles are likely experienced to the following negative effects:

  • Academic difficulties. Teens in intimate relationships are likely to experience academic difficulties because they are often distracted from school and as they focus on their relationships. The same goes for teens in abusive relationships because studies have shown that domestic violence results in emotional trauma along with physical and psychological barriers that impede learning.
  • Suicidal thoughts and self-harm. Studies have found a link between being in an unhappy relationship and the likelihood of causing self-harm or committing suicide. Most of these relationships lead to what is known as relationship depression, which may push teenagers to commit suicide. This is a type of depression that develops as a result of relationship difficulties. Some of the symptoms of relationship depression include feelings of sadness, suicidal thoughts and low self esteem in teens. That’s why acquiring yourself with the tools to know how to deal with teenage depression is necessary.
  • Low self-esteem. When a teenager is in a relationship with a need for constant reassurance, they are likely to develop low self-esteem that will affect other aspects of their lives. Common signs of depression include sensitivity to criticism and social withdrawal.
  • Exhibiting anger and depression. Studies have shown that relationship stress may lead to depression. When a teenager is in a poor relationship, the chances of them experiencing depression or exhibiting depression are high.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors such as drug abuse. Drug and substance abuse is common among teenagers in poor relationships like abusive relationships or deviant peer relationships where their partners abuse drugs because it shows that one is popular.

Warning Signs of Relationship Struggles

Having seen the impacts of relationship struggles on teenagers, it is advisable to be on the lookout for early warning signs of relationship struggles. This is important because it will enable you to address the side effects of teenage relationship struggles before they blow up.

However, it is usually difficult for most parents to know when their sons and teenagers face any challenges. This is because your teen son or daughter will rarely open up to you regarding the relationships they are in or the struggles they are facing.

Some behaviors that will show that your teen is suffering from relationship struggles include withdrawal from friends and family, aggressive or violent behavior, changes in sleeping patterns and eating habits, and a decline in school performance.

Residential Treatment for Teen Relationship Struggles

Residential treatment for teens is a form of long-term mental health care for adolescents aged between 13 and 17 years of age. This treatment process is unique because it occurs in a specialized residential facility providing 24/7 support and care. Key Healthcare is a leading provider of residential treatment programs that will help your teen reach their full potential and live a healthy, productive life. This service is offered in our Malibu facility.

How Residential Treatment Can Help Teens with Relationship Struggles?

The goal of Residential treatment centers for teens is to help teenagers develop coping strategies, and identify the core issues that are often deep in the subconscious mind. Through working with our clinical experts, they can overcome their teen anxiety, any teen substance abuse issues they might have, teen mental health issues, teen anger management, and other adverse impacts of relationship difficulties.

When placed under residential treatment, teens get all the attention they need and are surrounded by experts who understand relationship struggles. They are often grouped with their peers who have undergone the same experiences through teen group therapy sessions, where teens share their similar experiences and how they were able to cope in a supportive environment—the same difficulties in their previous or continuing relationships. Studies have shown when we share our experiences with people who have experienced the same problems, we are likely to feel better because someone understands us and creates hopefulness.

Benefits of Residential Treatment for Teen Relationship Struggles

Key Healthcare provides top-tier residential treatment for teens who have experienced relationship struggles. It is a combination of group and individual therapy with benefits for teenagers who have experienced relationship struggles and depression. These benefits include the following:

  • Access to professional support and guidance that provides you with expert solutions and guidance for long-term recovery.
  • Improve communication skills since most peers find it difficult to communicate, especially how they feel and what affects them.
  • Improved confidence and self-esteem, which is one of the adviser impacts of relationship struggles
  • Assistance and support from peers

Types of Therapies Used in Residential Treatment for Relationship Struggles

There are various types of therapies that you can sign up for as a teen troubled by relationships. As you read along, we shall discuss some of the leading therapy programs that could help you overcome relationship difficulties listed below:

Family Therapy Programs

Teen family therapy programs focus on understanding and resolving underlying family problems within the family setting. Family therapy helps family members like teens, parents, and siblings explore the issues that cause teen distress. Often the family is the first stop for teens experiencing relationship struggles, as they sometimes look up to their parents to resolve issues arising in their relationships with their siblings or friends.

However, most teens struggle to open up to their parents and other family members. As a result, they go through these difficulties alone, which worsens their impact on their academic and social life and their physical and mental health.

This type of therapy program prioritizes family members’ role in helping their teenage loved one recover from the side effects of relationship struggles, which include low self-esteem, teen self-harm, addiction, and mental health issues. Through this program, the family is equipped with skills that enable them to offer support and counsel their teens. Importantly, family therapy makes your teen feel more connected to the family, which promotes openness and honesty in communication within the family.

Individual Counseling Sessions

Teen individual therapy is a type of therapy where a one–on–one meeting is held between a therapist and a teen. Usually, such sessions last for approximately 50 minutes to 60 minutes.

During individual counseling sessions, teens get the chance to share and discuss issues they are struggling with, such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety; these are some of the impacts of relationship struggles.

The objective of this exercise is for the therapist to understand the teen’s feelings and thought patterns. Once this is done, it becomes easier to identify any underlying causes of their relationship difficulties while leading them toward finding and developing healthy coping strategies.

Teenagers undergo individual therapy sessions at least once a week at Key Healthcare. It is important to remember that they are subtypes of teen individual therapy. These types are cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, dialectical behavior therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy for teens.

Group Therapy Programs

Relationship struggles may sometimes lead to substance abuse and mental health issues. If these are the major impacts of your teen’s relationship difficulties, then teen group therapy may help. This form of counseling involves groups of about eight or nine teens or adolescents who share similar issues.

These sessions are often moderated by a professional therapist or counselor. The fundamental focus of teen group therapy is to provide a safe and supportive space where teenagers can cope with their issues, learn to be self-aware, and grow resilience.

During these sessions, the therapist introduces a topic and then opens the floor for the teens to say how they feel about it. This allows them to communicate freely and share their feelings and experiences. As they continue to share their experiences, it builds trust amongst the group members and understanding between one another. It is important to note that the therapist is a guide throughout the process, with the role of providing tools that will help the teens discover lasting healthy coping mechanisms.

Group therapy programs have several benefits, like improving social skills, increasing social awareness, developing coping skills, improving confidence, feeling less alone, and developing understanding and compassion.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Teenagehood is a developmental stage where adolescents grow mentally, socially, and physically as well. During this period, there are chances that your child may struggle with mental health issues (anxiety, depression, and trauma) that may impact their relationship with their parents, peers, and partners. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Teens (CBT) is arguably the best treatment for teens struggling with mental health issues.

CBT, including techniques like positive self talk for teens, focuses on our emotions, behaviors, and thoughts since they are connected. If, as a teen, one can change their thoughts, then they can change their behavior and emotions. CBT for teenagers employs various techniques that help you cope with mental struggles, such as journaling, cognitive restructuring (thinking positively), behavioral experiments like attending social events for teens with social anxiety, and relaxation and stress management like breathing exercises and many more.

At Key Healthcare, you get top-tier CBT for adolescents and teens as part of our residential teen treatment programs that will see your child develop long-term healthy coping mechanisms for their mental health issues.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of therapy that helps teenagers manage their emotions, deal with difficult situations, and develop healthier coping skills. Sometimes a teen may have borderline personality disorder (BPD). This means that they are unable to manage their emotions.

If your adolescent have teen borderline personality disorder, they might find it difficult to tolerate being alone, but at the same time, they might have emotional problems like anger, frequent mood swings, and impulsiveness that may drive away people they are in a relationship with.

This example shows that two opposing thoughts or ideas exist: the anger that drives people away and the desire to be around people. DBT allows you to come to terms with this fact about yourself and helps you to change your behavior.

At Key Healthcare, you get top-tier DBT treatment with three main components; individual therapy sessions, group skills training, and phone coaching, which allows you to utilize DBT skills you have learned while you are in a crisis.

Teen Yoga Therapy

Teen yoga therapy is a type of therapy that uses yoga to promote the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of a teen. The types of conditions that yoga reduces and, when suffered by teenagers, may impact their relationships include addiction, anxiety, and depression.

Yoga therapy is based on the belief that there is a connection between the body and the mind. As a result, yoga is about maintaining a healthy balance between the body and mind because if this is off balance, an individual may be at risk of mental and physical problems.

At Key Healthcare, teen yoga therapy involves a combination of poses, breathing exercises, mindfulness, and meditation. These breathing exercises help the teen control anxiety and promote relaxation.

The benefits of teen yoga therapy include reduced stress, improved impulse control for teens, improved brain development, improved focus and concentration, increased self-esteem, and improved sleep.

Art and Music Therapy

Teen Art therapy usually occurs in groups and is led by a trained therapist. Contrastingly, teen music therapy may happen in a group or individually. The activities undertaken in music therapy include songwriting, playing instruments, and listening to music. On the other hand, the activities in art therapy include photography, coloring, and creating collages.

Despite the subtle differences, art and music therapy for teens are meant to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression.

The Residential Treatment Process

Before being admitted into a residential treatment center, a teen must be assessed to determine suitability. During this stage, your teem is asked questions or given questionnaires to fill out. After completing the diagnostic assessment, psychiatric and psychological evaluations, a treatment plan will be created.

The treatment plan can only be created after the assessment because the assessment brings out your treatment needs. The next step that follows is the admission process. This is simply the registration of your details into the patient’s records. The final step is the delivery of treatment.

When to Consider Residential Treatment

There are various therapy treatments that can be used to help teens overcome relationship struggles and adopt healthy, lasting coping mechanisms. However, deciding the therapy a teen should undertake depends on the severity of their mental, physical, and emotional crisis.

Often when the impacts of teen relationship struggles are acute, it is advisable to sign up your teen for a more intensive and specialized treatment like residential treatment instead of a teen outpatient program.

Although it takes a seasoned psychotherapist to establish that a higher level of care is required to help keep your teenager safe and ease them through the acute side effects of relationship struggles, we have compiled a list that will help you figure out whether it is time for your teen to consider residential treatment.

First, you should consider RTP when traditional therapy is not effective. Traditional therapy is commonly known as talk therapy. This is where your teen is in a room with a counselor and shares his or her experience since it is a safe space. However, sometimes this might not help, and your teen would require therapy sessions like DBT or CBT, which are offered in teen residential therapy treatment.

Other factors to consider include where there is a risk of self-harm or suicide or where there is a history of trauma or abuse; this is because RTP provides a safe environment for a period of 45 to 60 days as opposed to outpatient, which means that your teen will be going back to the environment that does not help them cope.

Importance of Early Intervention

The impacts of relationship struggles and challenges can be stressful. It is, therefore, important to ensure that the right tools and support systems are in place to help teenagers cope with relationship difficulties. One of the best ways to address these problems is through early intervention, especially if you are experiencing mental health challenges.

Through early treatment, you can prevent long-term dire consequences, including limiting your teen’s social opportunities and increasing your teen’s risks of suffering mental illnesses, such as depression. Besides, delayed treatment may lead to teenagers resorting to substance use which is an unhealthy coping mechanism with serious consequences like addiction.

Choosing the Right Residential Treatment Program

Choosing the right residential program has been difficult for many due to the number of residential treatment centers and programs. As you read on, we will make it easier for you to choose the right program for your teen by providing you with a checklist.

You need to consider factors such as location and accessibility because you do not want your teen to be miles away when they require the most care, attention, and support from professional therapists and family.

Another condition to consider is cost. Since financial resources are required, you should be able to assess your payment options, budget, and any available financing options you want to explore. Some centers may be able to offer you prices and packages depending on your income and personal needs.

It is also essential to consider whether the center is accredited and licensed to offer residential treatment programs and whether the staff comprises therapists with excellent qualifications and experience. Key Healthcare is known nationwide, and highly respected. Therapists, Psychiatrists, Psychologists and educational consultants from around the USA highly recommend Key Healthcare.

Lastly, you need to evaluate the treatment options and modalities. This includes the kind of treatment your teen will be subjected to during the residential treatment and whether they effectively address the challenges they face in their relationships. Some of these options include the therapy types we discussed in this article.

To get information regarding the quality of treatment offered, some of the questions you should ask are:

  • How do the centers assess and treat relationship struggles,
  • What the daily treatment schedule looks like,
  • What types of therapy do they offer,
  • How parents and family members can be involved in the treatment process since you might want to support your teen during treatment; and
  • What to expect during the treatment. At Key Healthcare, the expectation is that your teen will undergo individual therapy, group therapy, holistic recreational therapy, exercises, and many more activities to help your teen develop healthy coping habits for his or her relationship problems.

Importantly, you want to sign up your teen for a program that actually works. It is important to consider the success stories of the centers. This means that you should seek testimonials from former residents, evaluate the success rates of residential programs as opposed to other forms of treatment, and case studies of teens who have overcome relationship struggles through residential treatment.

Click here to read the ultimate guide about Residential Treatment for Teens.

How to Approach Your Teen About Residential Treatment

This is probably one of the most difficult conversations that you will ever want to have with your child. Chances are that your teen would not respond positively. So how should you handle it?

The starting point should be reassuring them that you have the role of keeping them safe as a parent, and residential teen treatment is about their safety. Your child needs help to be safe, and that is what you are doing by recommending teen residential therapy.

The timing and place of the conversation are very crucial. Also, while having this conversation, you should avoid labeling your teen by avoiding the use of words like ‘mental illness’ or ‘disorder.’ Importantly, you should reassure your teen that this is not a prison but a safe place to help them. While at it, you should validate your teen’s feelings while collaborating with their therapist if they are currently attending traditional therapy.


Although frowned upon and seen as a therapy prison, residential treatment may be your chance to help your teen overcome their relationship struggles and impacts like addiction, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, academic difficulties, and many more. RTCs like Key Healthcare have a robust teen residential program that will help your teen develop healthy coping mechanisms to help them overcome relationship struggles in the future. It follows that if you are living with a teen experiencing relationship problems and other therapies have failed, you should have a conversation about signing them up for this care program at our Malibu facility. While following the tips on how to approach your teen about residential treatment.

Likewise, you can also read our guide 5 ways to get over depression, which could be helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What qualifications do staff members have in Residential Treatment for Teen Relationship Struggles programs?

At an RTC, you will find staff that comprises qualified nurses, psychiatrists, therapists, clinical and school psychologists, chemical dependency counselors, and many more to cater to your teen’s needs.

How much does Residential Treatment for Teen Relationship Struggles Cost?

The average cost of attending an RTC for one teen ranges between $15,000 to $75,000+ per month. This figure depends on the location, duration, and of course, insurance coverage.

Will my insurance cover Residential Treatment for Teen Relationship Struggles?

Yes, most health insurance policies cover some part of residential treatment. The Affordable Healthcare Act requires a majority of insurance health policies to cover mental health services, addiction recovery services, and behavioral change services. You can confidentially verify your insurance here

(Medi-Cal does not cover residential treatment.) Here is an additional resource for you, if you have Medi-Cal.

Will my teen be able to continue their education while in Residential Treatment for Teen Relationship Struggles?

Yes, most RTCs offer academic support through teen education programs to ensure your teen does not fall behind in school if they seek treatment.

What happens after my teen completes Residential Treatment for Teen Relationship Struggles?

The end of teen residential treatment marks the beginning of a new phase in your teenager’s life. This is the stage where they can apply the skills they have learned during treatment.

How can I support my teen’s recovery after Residential Treatment for Teen Relationship Struggles?

After your teen leaves an RTC, it is important that you create a supportive environment for them not to relapse.

Can Residential Treatment for Teen Relationship Struggles also address mental health issues?

Yes, one of the benefits of an RTC is its help in treating mental health problems like teen anxiety, depression, ADHD, and many more.

Are there age restrictions for Residential Treatment for Teen Relationship Struggles?

Residential treatment centers usually admit children between 13 and 17 years old.

Are there any alternative treatments to Residential Treatment for Teen Relationship Struggles?

The alternatives to teen residential treatment include traditional teen therapy, adolescent intensive outpatient programs, or teen partial hospitalization programs.

What if my teen is LGBTQ+? Are there specialized Residential Treatment for Teen Relationship Struggles programs available?

Yes. We have specialized Residential Treatment Programs for LGBTQ+ teens who are struggling in life, and with relationship struggles.