Treating Emotional Regulation Challenges at Innercept

Adolescence is often associated with intense emotions. Teenagers may be on the cusp of adulthood but lack the skills to keep emotions in check. Normally, these upsets occur and resolve given time. However, some teens experience ongoing struggles in managing emotions. When teens regularly experience such extremes of sadness, anger, or similar difficult emotions, they can wreak havoc on relationships and lead to defiant or risky behaviors. A lack of emotional regulation skills can harm a teen’s development in many ways, from their academic success to their ability to form friendships or make healthy decisions. In such cases, finding the root of these self-control issues and treating them professionally is critical. 

Signs of Emotional Regulation Issues in Adolescents

While adolescent emotions are often turbulent, serious anger management and emotional regulation issues can occur over time and affect a teen’s ability to function in daily life. If your teen experiences extreme or disproportionate emotional reactions to events, including strong mood swings or “outbursts” of intense emotions, they likely are facing emotional regulation issues. Behavioral changes as a result of these can include defiance of parents or other authority figures. Teens may also participate in risky behaviors. Overall, emotional regulation and anger management issues tend to lead to impulsive, unhealthy behaviors that jeopardize a teen’s performance at school and home.      

What Conditions Lead to Difficulty With Regulating Emotions?

There is no single mental health condition or disorder associated with anger management or emotional regulation.Instead, these kinds of emotional reactions and behaviors are often results of deeper, sometimes undiagnosed, conditions. These conditions can lie hidden, and can seriously impact any teen’s well-being and development. Some contributing conditions can include:

  • Depression

Teenagers suffering from depression may have a hard time recovering from difficult emotional experiences. They may feel easily overwhelmed by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or guilt, and may not have the tools to keep these feelings in check. Depression can also cause teens to display seemingly unexplained irritability or anger, along with risky or impulsive behaviors.

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is marked by attentional issues that often lead to behaviors designed to increase mental stimulation. People with ADHD may not feel mentally stimulated by normal activities, sometimes causing them to “act out”  behaviorally. ADHD also causes issues with impulse control – the exact kinds of behaviors we classify as emotional regulation issues. These can include anger management or similar challenges.[i]

  • Attachment issues

Teens may experience attachment issues with others that result in risky behaviors or difficulties in managing emotions.[ii] When poor levels of trust, communication, and emotional attachment occur with parents or family members, teens are more likely to display impulsive behaviors.

  • Unresolved Trauma

If teenagers have been through a traumatic experience of any sort, they may be more likely to have issues in managing their emotions. When teens lack the tools to process the traumatic experience, they may resort to risky behavior or other impulsive activities as coping mechanisms.

  • Oppositional defiant disorder

Teens with oppositional defiant disorder may have had issues with authority since they were younger children. These teens often display irritability or downright aggressive behavior towards parents, teachers, and others.[iii]

These are just a few of many possible causes for emotional and behavioral regulation issues in teens. If these kinds of challenges are jeopardizing your teen’s development or harming their well-being or safety, professional treatment is necessary.

Helping Teens and Adolescents Develop Emotional Control

Treating emotional regulation issues in teens should involve the help of mental health professionals. These professionals can work with your teen to understand their history of mental health and behavioral challenges. They can also diagnose any underlying conditions that are contributing to your teen’s behaviors. Depending on the cause of these challenges and their severity, treatment can include therapeutic interventions, medication, and other modalities in outpatient or residential contexts:

Therapeutic interventions can help teens recognize when they are facing difficult feelings and give them tools to cope with them in constructive ways. Instead of lashing out at others or trying to cope with risky behaviors, teens can learn how to communicate their needs to others, regulate emotions with self-care strategies, and express feelings in healthy ways.

Some common therapeutic approaches include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. These approaches can help teens meet challenging emotions and self-beliefs by reframing negative thoughts and practicing mindfulness strategies.[iv] Innercept employs these and other forms of therapy, including experiential modalities like art therapy, to help teens and young adults achieve greater emotional control and confidence.

When prescribed by a medical professional who is familiar with your teen’s symptoms and medical history, medication-based approaches can help treat the underlying mental health conditions which can fuel a lack of emotional control. From depression to ADHD or similar conditions, medication can address the chemical imbalances in the brain which impair healthy emotional regulation and decision-making. Innercept’s treatment programs include comprehensive medication management by medical professionals.

At Innercept, we recognize that multiple mental health conditions, like depression and ADHD, can easily interact with one another and create unique challenges. We specialize in treating teens and young adults with these complex presentations of mental health and behavioral challenges.

Professional Treatment for Teens and Adolescents with Emotional Regulation Difficulties at Innercept

Innercept’s intensive residential treatment programs offer adolescents and young adults a guided roadmap towards emotional stability and well-being. These programs engage clients in one-on-one and group therapy sessions, teach them valuable life skills and address every aspect of health with a unique approach based on integral psychology. Our team of caring mental health professionals consults with clients and their families to identify the biggest roadblocks they are facing to success. From there, an individualized plan for growth is developed, and progress is monitored along the way.

Innercept’s small program size helps staff offer personal guidance as teens progress in the program and learn to manage challenging feelings. As they are introduced to new activities and hobbies throughout their stay, teens learn healthy coping strategies and build satisfying relationships and values alongside their peers. Whether through daily living with peers, guided community outings, or psycho-educational groups that teach real-life skills, teens have countless opportunities to build and practice better emotional control. This professional guidance, along with expert medication management and regular check-ins, helps teens manage challenging mental health conditions and stay on the path towards growth in all areas of life.


[i] https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2014-57877-003

[ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6678901/

[iii] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/oppositional-defiant-disorder

[iv] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10879-020-09461-9

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