We’ve heard of conditions where people have trouble identifying or sensing the emotions of others. While some of these conditions are genetically inherited, there is one that comes to mind when we think about previous trauma. This condition is called Alexithymia, and it’s developed through distress and emotional trauma, usually in childhood experiences with caregivers.
How Alexithymia Develops
The naming of the condition comes from the Greek language, and it means no words for emotions, meaning they cannot decipher feelings from others or in themselves. At Visions Adolescent Treatment Center, we hope to share rare conditions that require treatment in teens as they work through their recovery with us. Parents can learn more about mental health as it contributes to addiction so they can better understand the struggle their children face each day.
Because of the nature of Alexithymia, you have to approach treatment differently. We offer many alternative treatments in our addiction recovery center that provide additional benefits for adolescents and the complex nature of their co-occurring addiction and mental health conditions.
Alexithymia is described as a state of mental health that begins when a child faces problems with their identity or has suffered from some emotional and physical abuse. Too many emotions at once can trigger this inability to name them and is a common sign of the condition. Alexithymia should be carefully assessed before it’s assumed they have it. It’s not a common condition by any means and can also affect adults in their later lives if a traumatic event occurs. It’s known that only about 10 percent of the population is affected by Alexithymia. Since we’re dealing with the inability to identify feelings within the person and they find it difficult to express or name these emotions, we must approach treatment carefully. At Visions, the treatments we offer teens struggling with Alexithymia are:
Individual therapy and group sessions focused on naming these tough to pinpoint feelings. Groups that include others experiencing this mental block benefit one another, so they feel comfortable to share the issue they face. We ask each member to talk about a recent experience they had and to define feelings that come to mind after we have worked with them on emotion identification. These groups are supportive and offer a safe space for teens to regain their sense of self and to understand how they can better assess feelings in others as well.
Music and art therapies are based on experience. As we work through emotions, we can feel them, see them and hear them all around us. We specifically choose pieces of art and music that evoke certain strong feelings so they may be inspired to connect with these emotions and any expression that comes with them. We encourage students to write songs and create art that will offer them a healthy outlet.Daily journaling or writing therapies are physical and language driven expressions that will come through simple descriptions on accounts of the day. Writing is a creative method of expression that can tell us much more than we realize about ourselves. In the way we write about something, anything at all, not just emotions, we can understand how we see the world. When teens read through their work in a group together, they relate to one another and might see something in their work that speaks to their current mood.
Following these expressive therapies may just be the way we find out how best to communicate with our teens. Expression and emotional understanding are the ways we navigate our lives and every situation. At Visions, we practice custom treatments that fit the mental health condition and related addiction. We help our teens find themselves in recovery.
Learn more about Alexithymia and our many experiential therapies by calling Visions Adolescent Treatment Center today at (818) 889-3665.