Service For Others As A Form Of Therapy
In looking at treatments for mental and emotional disorders, service as a form of therapy provides benefits that compliment cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy. A multidisciplinary approach to treatment is one of the hallmarks of At the Crossroads residential treatment center and contributes to the individual success of our teens. Serving others through altruistic volunteer opportunities, such as through a homeless shelter or center for domestic abuse victims, has been found to provide neurobiological benefits.
Chiefly among these is that the stress centers of the brain are noticeably less activated when helping others through a challenge while the reward centers are activated. While all types of volunteering provide mental health benefits, it is service in a social or community context that provides an increased sense of purpose for struggling teens and strengthens feelings of empathy and compassion for others.
Who Benefits The Most From Service As A Form Of Therapy?
Volunteering and service opportunities can provide mental benefits for all individuals, however, it offers specific benefits to adolescents who are struggling with mental and emotional disorders. Certain disorders do seem to reap the most reward from this therapy, with some common underlying causes that provide insight into why this is.
Signs A Young Adult Could Benefit From Service Therapy
For many teens suffering from emotional disorders, withdrawing from social interactions or having reluctance to try new things is a common part of life. Their disorders make it difficult to want to or to be able to approach others. This can deepen depression as well as to further degrade self-esteem, as teens may feel isolated by their disorder and that their lives are empty.
This is what makes volunteering as a form of therapy so effective, as it promotes social interaction in a structured environment. This allows teens to comfortably interact with others, as they have a general idea of what to expect during the experience.
This encourages teens to seek new experiences, strengthening their self-esteem. It also encourages the creation of new friendships, which helps to increase life satisfaction. All of this makes service as a form of therapy an ideal adjunct therapy for treating several mental and emotional disorders.
Common Disorders That Benefit The Most From Service To Others
As mentioned above, adolescents with depression and anxiety stand to gain the most from this therapy. The combination of reduced stress and confidence building helps to reinforce the use of new coping measures that teens learn as part of cognitive behavioral therapy. This combination of therapies that build off of each other and strengthen the therapeutic value of each is what makes volunteer service effective therapy for teens suffering from anxiety disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which often encompasses various social phobias.
Service Therapy Helps Young Adults To Connect To Others
In helping other people, teens are able to witness the lives of other people first hand. This broadening of perspective is especially valuable as it reinforces the reality of life and how most people live. The idea of how life is “supposed to be” that is showcased on tv and in movies is frequently a source of frustration and stress for teens as they feel that reality doesn’t match up. But in being confronted with how life truly is for most people, that stress is reduced and adolescents learn to better identify with others. This helps teens with BDD to view their bodies in a comparable light and reinforces the idea that no one is perfect. For teens with social anxiety, this helps to strengthen feelings of solidarity with others and empathy for others, encouraging them to continue to seek out social situations.
Putting Service As Therapy Into Practice
In finding a therapist that provides opportunities for service as a form of therapy, one generally needs to look for residential treatment centers, such as At the Crossroads. At ATC, the resident therapists and counselors have worked to build relationships with the local community in order to provide consistently valuable service opportunities for the teens in their facilities.
ATC has partnered with local centers for domestic abuse and sexual assault victims, homeless shelters, habitat for humanity, children’s museum, and animal shelter. This variety of altruistic volunteer options enables the therapists to match teens with the type of service that will benefit them the most, instilling them with a sense of purpose and compassion.
This volunteer experience has also been found to offer consistent mental health benefits. While there is a noticeable immediate benefit in reduced depression levels that later seems to stagnant, research has shown that continued service to others will cause depression levels to drop again after about six months of continued volunteering.
The volunteer opportunities provided by ATC also serves to teach valuable skills and work experience that teens may not have otherwise sought. This can encourage them to continue to try new things and widen their social circles, improving their overall life satisfaction in addition to helping them manage their depression and/or anxiety. For more informtion please call us today at: 1-866-439-0354 or 435-627-1788