In this fourth and final post on the seven developmental keys series, Senior Director of East Coast Clinical Programming Melissa Coffin, PhD, CEDS discusses the final two keys; creative expression and structure. Read on to learn how Clementine adolescent treatment programs incorporates both keys in treatment…
The Center for Early Adolescence has defined fundamental developmental needs during adolescence as the following: Self-Definition, Meaningful Participation, Competence, Creative Expression, Physical Activity, Social Interactions and Structure. Today I want to write about the combination of Creative Expression and Structure and how they are integrated in the treatment of adolescents with eating disorders.
In adolescence, the prefrontal cortex is still continuing to develop. As a result, adolescents are able to think more creatively during this time. This flexibility of thought allows them to see things in a different way than we do as adults; they are great “outside of the box” thinkers. We enjoy this quality of adolescence and encourage our adolescents to use creativity and flexibility to challenge their eating disorders or other areas of life where they are stuck.
At Clementine, we integrate time for both creativity and expressive therapies to appeal to their cognitive flexibility. Being able to teach and talk about important concepts in treatment through a creative modality helps to enrich our programming. It is also a non-threatening way to therapeutically approach more sensitive or challenging topics. For example, having a client create a collage of their goals rather than writing them down in a list helps them visualize goals in a different way. This activity can perhaps bring to light some goals that were not at the forefront of their mind when they started the assignment.
Coupled with honoring their creativity and flexibility, Clementine programming and staff naturally provide structure for our teens. With our multidisciplinary Level System, and structured programming, we provide a safe container in which our teens can flourish during this special time in their lives. We have found this balance of structure and creativity to be the perfect blend for our adolescents.