The first step in the treatment of an adolescent is to make an accurate diagnosis. To do this, the practitioner must conduct a thorough examination considering the symptoms and signs, the precipitants of symptoms, the person’s life experiences and personality, current medications (including those for non-psychiatric reasons), the medical history, the social history, the family history, and the stressors impacting that person’s life. The practitioner’s experience in treating adolescents is important so that rapport is properly established and the right questions are considered. Collateral sources of information such as parents and teachers are invaluable since the adolescent’s life is dependent on cooperative functioning with these individuals and it is frequent that the adolescent will see information from only his own viewpoint.
After an accurate diagnosis is obtained, the next priority is to relieve the severity and frequency of the manifestations of the presenting symptoms. This is the reason that the adolescent seeks treatment and is a prerequisite for restoring adequate social and occupational functioning. Both parents and the adolescent patient must be satisfied with the outcome or continued effectiveness will not be possible. If medications are necessary the practitioner must develop an understanding with both parents and the adolescent patient. The practitioner’s experience in treating adolescents is necessary to address complex issues involving the educational system and to optimize success. In addition to individual and medication therapy, group therapy is especially effective for increasing the adolescent’s chances of recovery.