Teen Partial Hospitalization Program Coping Skills & Self-Care Practices

Table of Contents

This article guides on the following:

  • Coping skills and self-care practices in teen PHP
  • Difference between coping skills and self-care routines
  • Forms of self-care routines and coping skills taught in teen PHP
  • Coping skills and self-care beyond teen PHP

How we react to stressful situations makes all the difference in our physical and mental well-being. Coping skills and self-care are crucial as a teen undergoes an adolescent partial hospitalization program as they are necessary for stress management. These skills are necessary as they help a teen build resilience and learn how to handle negative emotions and difficult situations properly. At the Key Healthcare teen PHP program, teens are taught how to build healthy coping skills and develop self-care practices in behavioral therapy for teens as they let go of harmful thoughts and practices such as suicide and substance use.

Overview of Coping Skills & Self-Care Practices in Teen Partial Hospitalization Programs

Therapy and psychiatric medication are the main forms of treatment for teen mental health issues, but coping strategies and self-care come in handy during and after treatment. Coping skills are strategies a teen can use to change their feelings and thoughts. These strategies come in handy in different situations as they help reduce stress and handle difficult situations effectively.

Self-care is no longer a foreign term in this age and time, not just for teens struggling with mental health issues but in their day-to-day lives. Self-care is always important but becomes even more important in stressful and prolonged situations. We do these healthy practices regularly to maintain wellness and optimal physical and mental healthcare. Coping skills are an integral part of a self-care routine. Through the teen partial hospitalization program, teens can learn healthy self-care routines and coping strategies.

The Difference Between Coping Skills and Self-Care

Coping skills and self-care practices may be used interchangeably, but they differ. Self-care is preventative while coping skills are more reactive. Coping is how we react when amidst negative situations or experiences. Self-care refers to maintenance, the proper diet that provides fuel for the body, ensuring your teen gets adequate sleep, and planned relaxation dates such as massages or beach getaways to provide tranquility and calm in stressful situations. Self-care is a daily habit that keeps one going.

Coping skills are quick fixes to unexpected situations. Your teen picks up these practices that allow them to decompress, unwind and relieve stress. So, the main difference between self-care routines and coping skills is the former is scheduled maintenance that helps prevent and restore one from stressful and difficult situations. At the same time, the latter are day-to-day go-to tools that relieve stress and improve mood.

Benefits of teaching coping skills in PHP

Healthy coping skills and self-care routines are important in learning how to manage stress and the daily ups and downs a teen may face in the PHP. The benefits of coping skills and self-care routines are endless, including:

  • Emotional regulation and stress management
  • Building resilience and enhancing well-being
  • Developing healthy coping mechanisms
  • Improved self-esteem and sense of self-worth

The ability to deal with difficult situations in a healthy manner and move on from them affects your teen’s mental and physical health. This also directly affects their relationships with peers, teachers, and caregivers.

Effective Coping Skills Taught in Teen Partial Hospitalization Programs

Developing healthy coping skills is a crucial topic in teen PHP as it helps teenagers handle stress and difficult situations in a healthier manner. Here are some effective coping skills they will learn:

# Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that focuses on feeling, thinking, or a sensation in the body without interpretation. This helps reduce stress and relax the body. Spending too much time planning, daydreaming, and problem-solving can be draining and lead to anxiety from stress and overthinking. Practicing mindfulness and positive thinking therapy is a way to direct your teen’s attention from overthinking and constantly being in the mental state of planning to focusing on the present and engaging with the world around them.

Teens can be a tough nut to crack when it comes to mindfulness practices, so here are some that appeal to teen’s interests:

  • Mindful movement- This allows teens to discharge pent-up energy and express themselves.
  • Music appreciation– Teens can pick what music they want to listen to, and at the end, you can ask how the rhythm of the music changes their breathing or makes their body feel.
  • Puzzles- If your teen enjoys playing puzzles, it’s a great way to relax and sharpen their brain. Puzzles require focus and presence of mind while also being rewarding and fun.
  • Body scanning– This is a practice where you move your attention through different parts of your body. You start from the top of your head down to your toes while focusing on tension, tingling, or relaxation of different body parts.
  • Mindful coloring and drawing– Focusing on colors and movement of the drawing pencils against the paper can be very relaxing.
  • Shaking– This is a fun way to blend mindfulness and movement. It is a popular trauma and tension-releasing exercise.

Benefits of Meditation in Coping with mental health challenges

Mindfulness has been studied in different clinical trials and proven to be effective for various mental illnesses, including:

Mindfulness meditation can help with the following:

  • Stress reduction improves stress-related symptoms, including bowel syndrome.
  • It helps improve the quality of sleep
  • Reduces anxiety by reducing stress levels.
  • It promotes overall emotional health by improving one’s self-image and outlook.
  • It helps with self-esteem and awareness by helping your teen develop a stronger sense of self and how they relate to those around them.
  • Mindfulness lengthens one’s attention span.

# Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are excellent for relieving stress and high levels of anxiety. They help one feel calmer and more relaxed and are easy to get started. Your teen can learn several types of breathing techniques to help in high-stress situations.

Different types of breathing techniques in PHP

The different types of breathing a teen can learn and take up depending on what appeals to them include:

  • Pursed lip breathing: This simple breathing technique slows down your breathing pace by making you apply deliberate effort in each breath.
  • Breath focus technique: This technique uses focus words and phrases or imagery. Your teen can choose a word that makes them feel relaxed, happy, or even neutral, e.g., let go and focus on as they take deep breaths. It can be done in 10–20-minute sessions until fully relaxed.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing: This is also known as belly breathing, and it helps reduce stress and challenges related to eating disorders.
  • Lion’s breath: This technique involves breathing deeply through the nose and opening your mouth wide while sticking your tongue out. The breathing technique releases tension in your chest and causes relaxation.
  • Alternate nostril breathing: This is a breathing practice for relaxation. It lowers the heart rate, but it’s discouraged when feeling sick or congested.
  • Sitali Breath: This yoga breathing technique is said to lower your body temperature and relax the mind.
  • Deep breathing: This is the most common breathing technique for relaxation. It relieves shortness of breath and helps in breathing fresher air, and in the process, helps in feeling more relaxed and centered. Teens who struggle with anxiety and panic attacks can benefit from this coping skill.

Step-by-step instructions for breathing exercises in PHP

Although breathing techniques differ, here are important tips to keep in mind for mindful breathing:

  • Take your time. Getting into mindful breathing is difficult, so ensure your teen starts practicing when relaxed. Also, please don’t force them to do it; let it happen naturally.
  • Breathing through the nose. Ensure your kid tries this as much as possible to regulate airflow and shift their focus, especially in high-stress situations.
  • Let them follow a breathing pattern. Regular breathing patterns such as 478 or 555 are crucial in mindful breathing. The first letter represents the seconds you breathe in, the second is how long to hold your breath, and the last is the seconds you breathe out. Your teen will be guided on the best breathing patterns in therapy, or you can search on the internet.
  • Be mindful of different breathing techniques. There are numerous breathing techniques, and your teen may want to learn as many as possible. Ensure they keep it simple to avoid getting overwhelmed and practice until they are comfortable implementing any technique in their daily lives.

# Expressive Writing and Journaling

Writing can be a form of art therapy, just like music or art. Expressive writing is a powerful tool for relieving pent-up stress and expressing feelings. It can be done in whatever way, and your teen doesn’t need to be gifted to take up journaling as a coping skill. Some people prefer recording their daily lives, while others need a prompt to start writing. Whichever the case, journaling has a ton of benefits.

Therapeutic benefits of expressive writing in PHP

Some benefits your teen can derive from journaling and expressive writing include the following:

Expressing themselves through writing can relieve stress and anxiety as they feel safe expressing themselves without judgment.

  • Writing will help them gain a deeper level of self-understanding.
  • It helps a teen bring focus to themselves by thinking about their day or certain situations and expressing their thoughts on the same.
  • Regular writing can help teenagers improve their communication skills by improving their inner dialogue and attention to detail.
  • Writing improves memory and retention, which can help with their schoolwork and increase comprehension.

Prompts and exercises for journaling in PHP

Writing does not come naturally to everyone, and teens may need a little push to process their thoughts and start journaling. Writing prompts are an excellent idea for anyone struggling with journaling, so here are a few to get started:

  • What makes you feel angry, nervous, or insecure?
  • Describe yourself in 10 words
  • What makes you feel safe?
  • How would you spend a perfect day?
  • How would you describe yourself to a stranger?
  • Describe a goal you are working on at the moment
  • How do you think you have grown in the past five years?
  • Describe the best compliment someone has ever given you

# Art Therapy

Teen art therapy is the use of artistic methods to enhance mental health. The coping technique is based on the idea that creative writing can foster mental health and well-being. Art therapy can be a complementary treatment for various mental health disorders, including adolescent anxiety disorder, teenagers depression, teen eating disorders, stress, and substance use disorder.

Various art techniques used in PHP for self-expression

Art therapy aims to utilize the creative process in self-expression, gain personal insights, and, in doing so, develop new coping skills. Techniques used in teen art therapy include:

  • Collage
  • Doodling and scribbling
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Coloring
  • Finger painting
  • Sculpting

Benefits of art therapy in individual and group sessions in PHP

There are numerous benefits of art therapy, including the following:

  • It can provide a sense of relaxation for teens as they engage in something warm and positive.
  • It provides a safe space for teens to express their feelings and thoughts creatively.
  • Art therapy increases self-esteem as teens develop creative skills.
  • It leads to improved problem-solving skills as teens learn how to think creatively as they work with different mediums.
  • Art therapy can help teens process and cope with difficult feelings such as anger, anxiety, and sadness.

Self-Care Practices for Teens in Partial Hospitalization Programs

Self-care is a vital aspect of our day-to-day lives, especially regarding mental health. According to a 2018 study, when your teen feels good about themselves, they can cope with stressful events better and maintain positive mental health. The benefits of self-care are numerous, including:

  • It helps reduce stress and anxiety
  • Helps prevent burnout
  • Safeguards mental well-being
  • Builds resilience toward daily stressors
  • Increases happiness and leads to better relationships
  • Reduces self-doubt by improving self-awareness

Different forms of self-care

Self-care is a multifaceted process of purposefully engaging in strategies that enhance mental health and well-being and promote healthy functioning. It’s not just about finding ways to relax but about finding physical, mental, social, and spiritual ways of caring for yourself.

Physical Self-Care Practices

Physical self-care involves taking care of your body for it to run effectively. Your teen needs to sleep enough, engage in physical activity, eat a balanced diet, and take the medication prescribed to fuel their body well.

Emotional Self-Care Practices

Emotional self-care involves having coping skills to deal with uncomfortable emotions such as anger, sadness, and anxiety rather than keeping them pent up. Encourage your teenager to speak up or take up activities such as art that allow them to acknowledge and express their feelings regularly.

Cognitive Self-Care Practices

The way we think has a great influence on our psychological well-being. Mental self-care involves keeping our minds sharp. You can ensure your child does this by reading books, solving puzzles, and learning about different subjects.

Social Self-Care Practices

Teens in PHP can easily neglect their friendships and social lives, but socialization is key. Close connections are important for their well-being, so you must ensure they cultivate positive friendships.

Challenges in Implementing Coping Skills and Self-Care in PHP

There are different challenges associated with teen mental health treatment and implementing coping skills and self-care in PHP. Even though mental health awareness and advocacy continue to build momentum, there remain barriers. These include:

  • Lack of awareness of the need for implementing coping skills and self-care routines in teen PHP.
  • Resistance to change and unfamiliarity with coping strategies as teens may not find a skill like breathing techniques or meditation interesting, hence resistance.
  • Lack of resources and support for ongoing practice. Some self-care practices may be expensive or out of reach for teens.
  • Social stigma and fear of getting picked on by peers for practicing self-care and applying coping skills.
  • Limited options for teens to choose from with young minds, you constantly need to find interesting coping skills and self-care practices that tickle their fancy. You may find very limited options for coping skills a teen may be interested to learn.

Strategies for Overcoming the Challenges in Teen PHP

Once you have identified specific challenges, it’s easy to eliminate them. Some strategies for overcoming the challenges we have discussed include:

  • Individualized treatment plans for each teen to figure out coping skills that match their interest.
  • Integrating coping skills into daily routines.
  • Providing ongoing support and encouragement through a solid support system consisting of the medical team, parents, family, and friends.
  • Collaborating with families and caregivers during and after treatment.

Creating a Safe and Therapeutic Environment in Teen PHP

In a partial hospitalization program, teens interact with different people, including parents, the medical team, and peers. The only way to create a therapeutic environment for healing is through safe and nurturing relationships. A therapeutic environment can be achieved in the following ways:

  • Providing routine, consistency, and predictability in the teen’s daily life, e.g., having a consistent after-therapy routine.
  • Engaging in physical activities to help in regulating the teenager’s emotions. Exercise and rhythmic activities help to calm the brain and release pent-up stress. You can get them to try dancing, bike riding, teen surf therapy, swimming, or coloring.
  • Supporting positive attributes and recognizing your child’s efforts and small successes. Explicitly delight in mastering new coping skills and praise them for positive attributes, even if it’s just nice to a stranger.
  • Be curious about coping skills they pick up and their impact on their behaviors. Encourage your kid to practice coping skills daily and research different skills that can pique their interest.

Self-care beyond the PHP program

Teen PHP ensures teens are armed with the necessary coping skills and self-care routines that will be useful after the program. These skills come in handy to ensure teens can sustain and enjoy the program’s benefits long after the treatment.

Transitioning from PHP to Aftercare: Continuity of Coping Skills

Teen extended care results in a more positive treatment program and lasting recovery. Developing useful self-care routines and coping skills after the partial hospitalization program is necessary as they provide additional support once a teen completes the program. Therapy without aftercare loses its meaning.

Building a Supportive Network Outside of PHP

It’s important to ensure your teen has access to a support network outside of the teen PHP. This can be family members, friends, or peer support groups the teen can turn to when they need support and comfort outside of therapy. A solid support system can provide physical comfort and distraction through the challenges of therapy and placating. Ensure the support system comprises people your child can trust to keep conversations confidential and people interested in their therapy progression.

Practicing Self-Care in School and Social Settings

As a student, balancing school, friends, co-curricular activities, and social life can be hard, which takes a toll on a teen’s mental health. Self-care for students entails finding a balance between school and wellness. It can involve anything as simple as getting enough sleep and rest, taking study breaks to attend therapy sessions, and enjoying family time. It’s important to identify stressors so you can help them figure out self-care activities that work best for their school life.


An effective self-care routine and coping skills benefit your teen, including reducing stress, anxiety symptoms, increasing energy, and stronger relationships. Your child will also be happier when they can positively manage strong emotions such as anger and sadness. Some coping strategies and self-care have also been linked to other health and wellness benefits, including finding a purpose and a longer life.

Effective coping strategies and self-care are tailored to your teen’s specific needs and treatment goals, and customizing a routine for them prevents burnout or feeling overwhelmed and stressed. It is important to assess their needs and consider the main stressors before encouraging certain coping skills.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can parents support developing coping skills in their teens during PHP?

One of the best ways to teach teens about self-care and good coping skills is to practice them yourself, as kids tend to pick up behavior patterns from adults. Practice mindful breathing or create a daily yoga routine, and they will slowly pick it up too.

What role do coping skills play in the recovery process of teens in PHP?

Coping mechanisms help teens in PHP reduce stress, minimize symptoms of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, and improve overall mental well-being. There are many stressors in therapy as teens are forced to express their feelings, so they need coping skills to manage difficult feelings.

What are some self-care activities that teens can practice outside of PHP?

Some effective self-care habits for teens include practicing gratitude, spending time with friends and family, training to find happiness in small things, and living in the moment. It’s also important for your child to have a hobby outside the PHP.

How can teens in PHP overcome resistance or reluctance to engage in coping skills and self-care practices?

Teens can overcome reluctance and resistance by taking it a step at a time. Remind your child that they don’t have to tackle everything at once. Ensure the teen plans for challenges and schedules a time to focus on their needs.

Are there online resources available for learning coping skills and self-care practices in teen partial hospitalization programs?

Teens can explore the internet for self-care practices and resources on coping skills. There are free courses and YouTube videos that can teach them coping skills. You can explore our teen music therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy for teens to help them learn new skills.