Treating Adolescent Dissociative Disorders with Residential Treatment Rehab

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Adolescent Dissociative disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by disruptions or disconnections in a person’s normal sense of identity, consciousness, memory, or perception. They manifest in several ways, including depersonalization, dissociative amnesia, and dissociative identity disorder (DID).

Dissociative disorders can be challenging to diagnose and treat, especially in adolescents. 

Concerning this, residential treatment for teens can be beneficial for adolescents. US-trusted teen Rehab Key Healthcare provides a safe and supportive environment for healing and recovery. Our teen treatment programs often offer a range of evidence-based treatments, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, trauma-focused therapy, and psychoeducation.

In our residential treatment rehab setting, trained mental health professionals work with your teens to identify the underlying causes of teens’ dissociative symptoms and develop coping skills to manage them. The structured and intensive nature of residential treatment can also help adolescents develop a sense of routine and stability, which can be particularly important for those who have experienced trauma or instability in their home lives.

Through this article, parents will be able to understand the nature of dissociative disorders, the benefits of residential treatment rehab, and how it can help adolescents overcome these challenging conditions.

Importance of Seeking Professional Treatment for Adolescents With Dissociative Disorders

Adolescents with dissociative disorders can benefit greatly from seeking professional treatment through Key Healthcare. These conditions can be challenging to diagnose, so our trained mental health professionals conduct psychology evaluation of teens and determine if an adolescent is experiencing a dissociative disorder or another condition. With a proper diagnosis, a tailored residential treatment plan can be created that is specific to the adolescent’s needs. It can include talk therapy, medication, and other interventions to help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being. 

Seeking professional treatment early on can improve long-term outcomes, prevent the development of comorbidities, and support parents struggling to understand and support their loved ones. Thus, residential treatment for adolescents with dissociative disorders is crucial for their overall mental health and well-being.

Common Causes of Dissociative Disorders in Teenagers

Adolescent dissociative disorders can be caused by the following:

  • Trauma: A traumatic event such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or witnessing violence can trigger dissociation in teenagers.
  • Genetics: Some evidence suggests that a family history of dissociative disorders can increase the risk of developing the condition in teens.
  • Chronic stress: Prolonged stress, such as bullying or ongoing family conflict, can increase the likelihood of dissociative symptoms.
  • Substance abuse: Substance abuse can lead to dissociative symptoms in some teenagers.

Symptoms of Dissociative Disorders in Teens

The symptoms of dissociative disorders in teens can vary widely but often include:

Memory Loss

  • Teens with dissociative disorders may experience gaps in their memory or feel they are watching their life from a distance.


  • Teens with dissociative disorders may feel disconnected from their bodies or the world around them.

Diagnosis of Dissociative Disorder

Diagnosing dissociative disorders can be challenging, as the symptoms can be vague and overlap with those of other mental health conditions. However, there are specific criteria that mental health professionals use to diagnose dissociative disorders.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the current standard mental health professionals use to diagnose mental health conditions, including dissociative disorders. The DSM-5 outlines several dissociative disorders, including dissociative amnesia, depersonalization-derealization, and dissociative identity disorder.

The following are the criteria for diagnosing dissociative disorders according to the DSM-5:

  • The individual must have symptoms of dissociation, which can include depersonalization (feeling detached from oneself), derealization (feeling detached from the world), amnesia (memory loss), or identity confusion.
  • The dissociative symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in the individual’s ability to function in daily life.

A mental health professional will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to diagnose a dissociative disorder, including a clinical interview and psychological testing. The evaluation will typically include questions about the individual’s symptoms, medical history, and family history of mental health conditions. The mental health professional may also use standardized psychological tests to help diagnose the condition.

Types of Dissociative Disorders that Affect Adolescents and Their Symptoms

Dissociative Identity Disorder

DID, previously known as multiple personality disorder, is a condition where individuals develop two or more distinct personalities or identities, each with their own behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. The symptoms of dissociative disorder may include:

The presence of two or more distinct personalities or identities

  • Gaps in memory, which can result in unexplained periods or forgotten events.
  • Personalities or identities that may have different names, ages, genders, or cultural backgrounds.
  • Differences in behavior, attitude, or preferences between the different personalities.
  • Feelings of detachment or a sense of being outside one’s body.
  • Co-existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression.

Dissociative Amnesia

Dissociative amnesia is when an individual experiences significant memory loss, usually due to a traumatic or stressful event. The symptoms of dissociative amnesia may include:

  • Inability to remember important personal information, including events or people.
  • Gaps in memory surrounding a traumatic event.
  • Confusion about their identity or personal history.

Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder

Depersonalization-derealization disorder is when an individual experiences a persistent or recurrent sense of detachment from oneself or one’s surroundings. The symptoms of depersonalization-derealization disorder may include:

  • Feeling as if one is in a dream or watching oneself from outside the body.
  • Feeling detached from one’s surroundings or a sense of unreality.

How Dissociative Disorders Can Impact An Adolescent's Life

Dissociative disorders can significantly impact an adolescent’s life in various ways, including:

  • Difficulty with relationships: Adolescents with dissociative disorders may struggle to form and maintain relationships due to difficulties with trust, communication, and emotional regulation.
  • Difficulty with school: Adolescents with dissociative disorders may have difficulty focusing on schoolwork or attending school due to dissociative symptoms or related mental health conditions.
  • Increased risk of self-harm: Adolescents with dissociative disorders may be at increased risk for self-harm or suicidal thoughts due to feelings of detachment, identity confusion, or emotional distress.

Residential Treatment Rehab for Adolescent Dissociative Disorders

Residential treatment rehab is an intensive therapy that provides a supportive and structured environment for individuals struggling with various mental health conditions, including dissociative disorders. Dissociative disorders are a group of conditions that involve disruptions in an individual’s sense of self, consciousness, memory, or perception. These disorders often develop in response to traumatic experiences, such as abuse or neglect, and can be challenging to treat. However, residential treatment rehab provides a comprehensive approach to treatment, which can help adolescents with dissociative disorders heal and recover.

Different Types of Treatment Modalities Available In Residential Rehab Settings

Several different types of treatment modalities are available in residential rehab settings for adolescents with dissociative disorders. These may include:

  • Individual Therapy: Individual teen therapy is a one-on-one session between the adolescent and a therapist. It can help adolescents explore their emotions, experiences, and thoughts related to their dissociative disorder.
  • Group Therapy: Teen group therapy involves a therapist facilitating a session with individuals with similar struggles. It can help adolescents feel less isolated and provide a supportive environment to process their experiences.                                                         
  • Family therapy: Teen family therapy involves sessions with adolescent and their family members to improve communication and relationships within the family.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT for teens focuses on identifying and replacing negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to dissociative disorder.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): DBT for teens is a type of therapy that emphasizes developing coping skills to manage difficult emotions and behaviors.

Benefits of Residential Treatment Rehab for Adolescents With Dissociative Disorders

The benefits of residential treatment rehab for adolescents with dissociative disorders are numerous:

  1. The structured and supportive environment can provide a sense of safety and stability that may be lacking in the adolescent’s daily life.
  2. The intensive therapy provided in residential rehab settings can help the adolescent make significant progress in a shorter amount of time.
  3. The variety of treatment modalities available in residential rehab can be tailored to the adolescent’s specific needs and preferences.
  4. The social support and connections made with peers and therapists in residential rehab can be a valuable source of motivation and encouragement.

How Long Does an Adolescent Typically Stay in Residential Treatment Rehab for Dissociative Disorders?

  • The length of stay for an adolescent in residential treatment rehab for dissociative disorders can vary depending on the severity of the disorder and the individual’s progress in therapy.
  • Typically, adolescents stay in residential rehab for 45-90 days. During this time, they receive intensive therapy and support and participate in activities that promote emotional regulation and social skills development.

Choosing the Right Rehab Facility for Adolescents with Dissociative Disorders

Choosing the right rehab facility for adolescents with dissociative disorders is a critical step toward their recovery. There are several factors that families and caregivers should consider when selecting a residential rehab facility for their adolescents.

Accreditation, Licensing, and Certifications that a Reputable Rehab Center Should Have

  • The first factor to consider is accreditation, licensing, and certification. A reputable rehab center should have all the necessary licenses and accreditations from relevant state and federal bodies.
  • It ensures that the facility meets the minimum requirements for providing quality care and adheres to safety and ethical standards.

Staff Qualifications and Experience in Treating Dissociative Disorders in Adolescents

  • The second factor is staff qualifications and experience in treating adolescent dissociative disorders. Looking for a facility with experienced and qualified mental health professionals with a background in treating dissociative disorders is essential.
  • The staff should be trained in evidence-based therapies that effectively treat adolescent dissociative disorders, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

The Importance of A Comprehensive, Individualized Treatment Plan

  • The third factor to consider is the importance of a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan.
  • Every adolescent with a dissociative disorder has unique needs, and a one-size-fits-all treatment approach may be ineffective.
  • A reputable rehab center should offer a customized treatment plan that addresses the specific needs of the adolescent.
  • The treatment plan should include a range of evidence-based therapies, medication management, and other interventions to support the adolescent’s recovery.

Evidence-based Approaches to Treating Dissociative Disorders in Adolescents

Treating dissociative disorders in adolescents typically involves psychotherapy, which aims to help the young person develop coping mechanisms and gain a sense of control over their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Here are some of the evidence-based approaches that are commonly used to treat dissociative disorders in adolescents.

  • Psychotherapy                                                        
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral therapy
  • EMDR is often used to treat teen PTSD and other trauma-related disorders.
  • Family Therapy

Medications Commonly Prescribed for Adolescent Dissociative Disorders

In addition to therapy, medications may also be prescribed to help manage the symptoms of dissociative disorders in adolescents. The types of medications commonly prescribed include:

Anti-Anxiety Medications

  • These medications are used to reduce symptoms of anxiety, which are often associated with dissociative disorders.
  • Examples include benzodiazepines and buspirone.

Medications Commonly Prescribed for Adolescent Dissociative Disorders

  • These medications are used to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression, which are common in people with dissociative disorders.
  • Examples include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants.

Medications Commonly Prescribed for Adolescent Dissociative Disorders

  • These medications reduce symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions, which may occur in some people with dissociative disorders.
  • Examples include risperidone and olanzapine.

Holistic Approaches for Treating Dissociative Disorders in Adolescents

While medication can be helpful, it is not always the best approach for treating adolescent dissociative disorders. Holistic approaches, such as art therapy, may also be used to complement traditional therapy and medication.

Art Therapy

  • Art therapy for teens is a form of psychotherapy that uses creative expression to help individuals express themselves and work through emotional and psychological challenges.
  • It involves using various art materials and techniques, such as drawing, painting, sculpting, and collage-making.
  • In dissociative disorders, art therapy can be particularly helpful in helping adolescents express feelings and experiences that they may struggle to put into words.
  • It can also help them develop a sense of control and agency over their experiences, which can be empowering and healing.
  • Art therapy sessions are typically led by a licensed art therapist trained to guide individuals through the creative process and help them connect their artwork and their emotions or experiences.
  • Sessions may be conducted individually or in a group setting.

Preventing Relapse and Maintaining Recovery

Dissociative disorders in adolescents can significantly impact their daily lives, including relationships, school, and overall functioning. Treatment for dissociative disorders often involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. However, even with successful treatment, relapse can still occur, and preventing it requires specific strategies.

  1. One of the essential strategies for preventing relapse in adolescents with dissociative disorders is to identify triggers. These can be anything that causes distress, including specific situations, people, or emotions. Once these triggers are identified, the adolescent can learn how to avoid or manage them effectively, reducing the risk of relapse.
  2. Another strategy is to develop coping mechanisms. Adolescents with dissociative disorders may benefit from learning to recognize and manage overwhelming emotions, such as anxiety or depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy can be useful in teaching coping strategies.
  3. Maintaining recovery and leading a fulfilling life after receiving treatment for dissociative disorders in adolescence involves making significant lifestyle changes. It can include adopting healthy habits such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and practicing mindfulness or meditation. Additionally, finding hobbies or interests that provide a sense of purpose and enjoyment can help adolescents maintain a positive outlook on life.

Importance of Aftercare and Follow-up Treatment

  • Key healthcare teen extended care can prevent relapse. Adolescents with dissociative disorders benefit from ongoing therapy and medication management to ensure that symptoms do not return or worsen.
  • A support system, including family, friends, and healthcare professionals, is crucial as they can guide and encourage teenagers during challenging times.


In conclusion, treating dissociative disorders in teens can significantly impact their overall well-being and future endeavors. By addressing the underlying trauma and providing appropriate therapy, adolescents with dissociative disorders can learn to cope with their symptoms and develop healthy relationships with themselves and others.

Some benefits of treating dissociative disorders in teens include improved mental health, reduced risk of self-harm and suicide, better academic performance, and greater self-awareness and self-esteem. Parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals must recognize the signs of dissociative disorders and seek appropriate treatment to help young people overcome these challenges.

With the help of early intervention and ongoing support from parents and mental health professionals, teenagers will achieve positive outcomes. That way, parents can help their teenagers heal and move forward with their lives. And if anything’s unclear or you’re just wondering about dissociative disorder, we’re only a call away.


Core FAQs

  • Dissociative identity disorder or DID is a condition in which an individual develops two or more distinct personalities or identities, each with their own set of behaviors, thoughts, and emotions.
  • It can primarily be treated through Psychotherapy such as CBT, DBT, and EMDR. These are forms of treatment where individuals talk to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health provider.
  • During psychotherapy, adolescents learn about their specific issues and how their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors affect their moods.
  • It varies. The treatment of dissociative disorders in adolescents can vary depending on the severity and complexity of the symptoms.
  • However, in some cases, outpatient therapy may be sufficient to effectively treat dissociative disorders in adolescents, while in other cases, more intensive treatment may be necessary.

A study indicated challenges or barriers being experienced in treating dissociative disorder in adolescents in a residential rehab setting. These barriers spanned several domains, including 

  • Structural barriers (e.g. financial/insurance difficulties, lack of provider availability, and competing needs such as time, low energy, and childcare), 
  • Perception of problem barriers (e.g. individual did not think their problem was severe enough to require treatment, an individual wanted to handle their problem on their own), 
  • Perceived ineffectiveness of treatment, lack of trained providers in trauma and/or dissociation, anticipated or experienced stigma, anticipated or experienced negative response from providers, and beliefs about self, among others.
  • Yes. Since dissociative disorders are often associated with other mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, medications would help.
  • Using medications to manage its corresponding symptoms will make it easy to treat dissociative disorder.
  • Parents should work with their children to develop coping strategies to manage stress and triggers.
  • Ongoing support for both the child and parents through therapy or support groups is also essential to managing the challenges of living with a dissociative disorder.
  • No. It is never too late to seek treatment for a dissociative disorder, even if it emerged in adolescence.
  • While seeking treatment as early as possible is ideal, treatment can still be effective later in life.
  • It depends. Residential treatments have their terms and conditions regarding insurance.
  • Key Healthcare is a residential treatment center that coordinates with many insurance providers.
  • In this treatment center, there is a high chance that 100% of the costs will be covered.
  • Clients just have to fill out their confidential insurance forms so they’ll know if they are eligible.
  • If an adolescent do not respond to their initial treatment for dissociative disorders, it is important to reassess the treatment plan and consider alternative approaches.
  • It is not uncommon for individuals with dissociative disorders to require multiple attempts at treatment, or a combination of treatments, to achieve significant improvement.

Parents can take several steps to ensure their child receives the best care in a residential rehab setting for dissociative disorders. Here are a few:

  • Conduct research: Research the different treatment options available, and look for residential rehab centers that specialize in dissociative disorders. Check the facility’s accreditation, licensing, and staff’s qualifications and experience.
  • Ask questions: Once parents have identified potential rehab centers, reach out to them and ask about their treatment philosophy, the types of therapy and activities offered, and the qualifications and experience of their staff. Ask about the staff-to-patient ratio and the level of supervision provided.
  • Collaborate: Once teens are admitted to a residential rehab center, work closely with the treatment team to develop a personalized treatment plan Be an active participant in the treatment process, and ask questions or voice any concerns that may arise.
  • The long-term prognosis for adolescents with dissociative disorders who receive residential treatment rehab can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of their symptoms, the duration and intensity of treatment, and the presence of any co-occurring mental health conditions.
  • The prevalence of dissociative disorders in the adolescent population is estimated to be between 1% and 14%, depending on the specific disorder and the study population.
  • The most common dissociative disorder in adolescents is dissociative identity disorder (DID).
  • Risk factors for dissociative disorders in adolescents include childhood trauma or abuse, particularly emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; neglect; and witnessing domestic violence or other traumatic events.
  • Other risk factors may include a family history of dissociative disorders, other mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, and a lack of social support or coping skills.
  • Gender may also play a role, as females are more commonly diagnosed with dissociative disorders than males.
  • Dissociative disorders in teenagers can differ from those seen in adults in terms of symptoms and treatment options.
  • Adolescents may display more behavioral symptoms such as running away, self-harm, substance abuse, and difficulties with identity development and academic performance.
  • Yes. It is because dissociative disorders are often linked to a history of trauma, and dissociation can be a coping mechanism to protect oneself from overwhelming emotional distress.
  • Moreover, their developing brains and coping mechanisms may not yet be fully equipped to handle such experiences.
  • Common misconceptions about dissociative disorders in teenagers include the belief that they are rare and only occur in extreme cases of trauma.
  • These myths can interfere with proper diagnosis and treatment, leading to under-identification and under-treatment of dissociative disorders in teens.
  • Some of the most effective therapeutic approaches for treating dissociative disorders in adolescent patients include psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and medication.
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or substance use disorders can impact treatment options for teens with dissociative disorders in several ways.
  • First, it may be important to address the co-occurring conditions before treating the dissociative disorder, as these conditions can impact an individual’s ability to engage in and benefit from therapy. For example, if a teen with a dissociative disorder is also struggling with severe depression, they may not have the energy or motivation to engage in therapy until their depression is adequately treated.
  • Second, the presence of co-occurring conditions may require a more complex treatment approach. For example, if a teen with a dissociative disorder is also struggling with substance use, they may require both individual therapies for the dissociative disorder and substance use disorder treatment, such as counseling or medication-assisted treatment.
  • Third, the presence of co-occurring conditions may require a more collaborative treatment team. A team of mental health professionals with expertise in treating dissociative disorders and co-occurring conditions may be necessary to provide comprehensive care and coordinate treatment.
  • It depends on the individual’s needs and progress, but attending school while in residential rehab may be possible with the right accommodations and support.