The Department of Health requires that adolescents are treated separate from adults in a psychiatric hospital. It is also best practice to treat dual diagnosis disorders separate from general psychiatric disorders, hence the separation in our adolescent patient populations into general and dual diagnosis for adolescents.
Dual diagnosis is a specialist category requiring very targeted interventions focused specifically on managing the addictive behaviours and their root causes. The dual diagnosis unit generally has staff dedicated to treating these disorders, with a specific set of rules and boundaries to promote recovery.
The treatment team comprises healthcare professionals with a specialist interest and expertise in adolescent psychiatry, addiction and child development, and includes psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational and family therapists and social workers.
Because of the sensitivities in dealing with under-age patients, pre-admission of any individual to the adolescent dual diagnosis unit is undertaken by two treating professionals. No patients may be admitted to the unit after hours.
Programme in the adolescent dual diagnosis unit
Many of the Akeso facilities offer separate treatment programmes for adolescents with disorders of a general nature and adolescents with disorders relating to substance use and impulse control, for example internet, pornography, gaming, or sex addiction.
The programmes consist of a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, skills development, mindfulness, therapeutic relaxation, leisure/social activities and regular exercise. Homework activities are also incorporated to reduce the negative impact of being absent from school.
The therapeutic model in the adolescent dual diagnosis unit draws on dialectical behaviour therapy, developmental theory as it pertains to adolescence, and aspects of traditional addiction treatment like the 12-step model. The focus is strongly behavioural and the approach is designed to be skills-based rather than theoretical, in order to support behavioural change sustained well into the post-discharge phase.
Because of the sensitivities in dealing with under-age patients, pre-admission of any patient into the adolescent dual diagnosis unit is undertaken by two treating professionals. In addition, no individual may be admitted to the unit after hours, but will be assessed by a nurse and member of the therapeutic team at the first available opportunity.