While some sexual exploration and play are a natural part of childhood sexual development, there are some behaviors that indicate more than harmless curiosity. In some cases, there are sexual behaviors that pose a risk to the safety and wellbeing of a child and the other children that he or she interacts with. Sexually maladaptive behaviors are those that continue to occur even after the child or adolescent has been told to stop. Additionally, this behavior tends to involve other children, including siblings and friends.
As a parent, having a child who displays maladaptive sexual behavior can be extremely frustrating and concerning. You may even be at a point where you feel completely hopeless because you have no idea how you can get your child’s behavior under control. This is where Piney Ridge can help.
At Piney Ridge Treatment Center, we have been providing successful, thorough, and comprehensive treatment for boys and girls ages 7-17 since 1996. We are the only treatment center in the state of Arkansas that has a program specifically devoted to meeting the needs of children and adolescents with problematic sexual behaviors, and we want to help your child get the help that he or she needs and deserves.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment
Watching your child acting out in problematic sexual behaviors can be not only frustrating and heart-breaking, but embarrassing as well. You have probably found yourself experiencing a wide array of emotions as you try to come to terms with what has been occurring in your child’s life. You may even be suffering from feelings of guilt, wondering if there was something that you did or something that you overlooked that led to the onset of these behaviors. Or you might be wondering if your child really is even struggling with maladaptive sexual behaviors or if you are just being overly cautious. Children with sexually maladaptive behavior usually display one or more of the following signs:
- Behavior is clearly beyond the child’s developmental stage
- Behavior involves threats, force, or aggression
- There is an inappropriate or harmful use of sexual body part
- Behavior is associated with strong emotional reactions, such as anger or anxiety
- Behavior interferes with typical childhood interests and abilities
If you notice any of these warning signs in your child, a residential treatment program is often a good resource for getting the help that your child needs. With proper treatment, children and adolescents with sexual behavior problems can learn to have respect for themselves and for other children. They can learn how to develop and demonstrate healthy behaviors and boundaries.
It is rarely the case that childhood sexual behavior problems are about sexual pleasure, but instead these behaviors are related to anxiety, traumatic experiences, curiosity, and poor impulse control. Children with sexual behavior problems will often show other behavior and social difficulties that can include:
- Impulsiveness or tending to act before thinking
- Difficulties following rules and listening to authority figures
- Problems making friends their own age and having a tendency to play with younger children
- Limited ability to self-soothe
It can be extremely stressful to learn that you have a child who is struggling with sexually problematic behavior. A residential program can provide you with the opportunity to learn new strategies for how to deal with your child’s behavior, to help your child learn to better manage his or her emotions, and to get any medication that may be needed.
Why Seek Residential Treatment at Piney Ridge?
If you have been watching your child’s problematic sexual behaviors seem to take over his or her world, you are probably feeling extremely concerned about his or her future. You might be wondering if it is a series of behaviors that he or she will grow out of, or if it is something that will only continue to get worse as the years go on. Your worries and concerns are completely justified. If left untreated, the ramifications of problematic sexual behaviors can enter an entirely new realm of severity.
Residential treatment programs are known to be a very effective approach to helping children and adolescents heal from the destructive path of sexually maladaptive behaviors. When children enter a residential program, they are entering a safe environment where they will be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are being provided with the opportunity to step away from the daily stressors of their normal lives, which allows them to focus solely on their treatment and healing.
Program Philosophy and Benefits
At Piney Ridge Treatment Center, we firmly believe that every child and family who comes to us for help is truly unique and deserves to have a treatment plan personalized to meet each of his or her own individual set of needs.
At Piney Ridge, we recognize that because sexual thoughts and behaviors are meant to be private parts of people’s lives, they are things that need to be addressed in a therapeutic manner meant solely for the purpose of reshaping how our patients will behave in the future. Our program is designed to provide patients with the ability to understand how to accept responsibility for their past behaviors so that they can make the changes that they need to in order to get well.
Types of Treatment Offered at Piney Ridge
Our treatment program is based on the three models acknowledged to treat abuser behavior. These models include relapse prevention, invitation to responsibility, and trauma outcome. When children and adolescents comes to us for treatment, they will first participate in a thorough assessment in order to determine the severity of their behaviors so that the most appropriate treatment plan can be developed. Using an evidence-based model of care, with trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy at the core, we combine various therapeutic methods as a means of providing the most holistic treatment possible. These methods include:
Medication management: Part of successfully managing the symptoms that your child may be experiencing comes in the form of medication. We have three psychiatrists and one internist on staff that will meet with your child at least once every 28 days. However, additional appointments will occur based on your child’s individual needs.
Individual therapy: This is a time for your child to meet on a one-to-one basis with his or her own individual therapist. Children who demonstrate sexually maladaptive behaviors usually benefit from this personal time with a therapist because it allows them to develop problem-solving skills, coping skills, and teaches them more appropriate behavior. Additionally, individual therapy can help children learn to cope with their anxiety, identify any traumatic events that may still be causing them pain, and learn how to better control their impulses. All of our patients have individual sessions at least once a week, but additional sessions may be added if needed.
Group therapy: With all of the new skills that our patients will be learning, group sessions are important because they allow patients to have time to practice those social skills with other children their age. Group sessions can help them enhance positive social interactions, reinforce their learned coping skills, and provide them with the opportunity to practice appropriate ways to interact with others. Our group sessions are held daily and cover a wide range of topics including anger management, empathy skills, family issues, and sexual safety. All of our patients will also participate in goal groups every morning and rehab groups every evening.
Family therapy: Parental involvement is crucial for the treatment of a child who is exhibiting sexually maladaptive behaviors. Family sessions are held on a weekly or biweekly basis and are designed to help parents learn how to implement rules about sexual behavior, use strategies that will reduce behavioral problems, and enhance community skills. Visitation time is also available for families on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays.
School: All patients will attend school Monday through Friday. All of our teachers are certified as special education teachers and there are a maximum of 15 children per classroom. Each child will have his or her own individualized education plan and all credits are transferable to his or her home public school. Tutoring and college prep are available to all patients, and high school students are able to graduate while in the program.
Experiential program: In order to make treatment as holistic as possible, we also offer a thorough experiential program for our patients which includes recreation therapy and expressive therapies. Occupational and speech therapists are also on hand to work with patients when necessary.
Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment
At Piney Ridge, the discharge process is thorough. In order for our patients to leave our program with the comfort and knowledge that they can return to their lives at home, we ensure that appropriate continuing care referrals are provided. Case management occurs throughout our patients’ stays, which allows us to work on the discharge process over the course of their stay so that nothing that happens at the end of treatment comes as a surprise. For our teenage patients, we help arrange for transfers to college, to the military, or to independent living situations, according to their needs.
We don’t want you and your child to keep suffering. At Piney Ridge Treatment Center, we will do everything in our power to ensure that all of your needs are met and that your child can leave us with the confidence he or she needs to go on to live a happy, successful, and fulfilling life.