Knowing how to talk about mental health is one of the best ways to normalize conversations about any disorder your teen may have. Learn about some of the most common terms we use at Ascend here.



Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT):

During ACT, clients learn how to cope with unpleasant feelings and uncomfortable situations through mindfulness strategies.


In general, anxiety consists of persistent feelings of fear or worry. This may also include physical symptoms like restlessness, fatigue, and rapid breathing. Anxiety becomes a disorder when the physical and mental symptoms disrupt a person’s everyday life, interfering with daily activities.


This neuro-developmental condition, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a complex developmental condition that may include difficulties with social interaction, stilted communication, and repetitive behaviors. The severity and symptoms of ASD range from person to person.

Bipolar Disorder:

This diagnosis refers to a mood disorder characterized by changes that swing between extreme elation and severe depression. Ascend does not treat adolescents with bipolar disorder.

Child Psychiatrist/Psychologist

A child psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in diagnosing behavioral disorders in adolescents. A child psychologist is a trained professional who provides treatment for adolescents with mental health concerns.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on connecting thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in order to help teens develop and maintain healthy coping skills.


This is a mood disorder that consists of loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities. Teens may experience consistently low or irritable mood, as well as a sense of hopelessness. Depression disorders also occur on a scale, with some adolescents exhibiting more intense symptoms than others.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT):

DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that’s popular for treating self-harming and self-destructive behaviors. Teens learn how to manage their emotions and work through their struggles mindfully.

Disordered Eating:

Disordered eating is generally categorized as a preoccupation with food that doesn’t achieve the necessary intensity to be diagnosed as a disorder. Teens with disordered eating may show some of the symptoms of an eating disorder, without the accompanying obsession.

Eating Disorder:

This unhealthy pattern of eating often comes along with an intense obsession with food as well as a distorted body image. Some signs of a disorder may include dramatic weight loss or gain, avoiding mealtimes, refusal to eat certain foods, and an obsession with dieting or counting calories.

Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)

EBP is based on empirical and clinical evidence that has been validated through systemic research. It integrates individual psychiatric expertise with clinical evidence to create individualized treatment plans for clients.

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR):

EDMR is a therapeutic approach that uses physical responses and emotions to help clients work through traumatic memories.

Experiential Therapy:

An alternative, non-clinical form of therapy that we use alongside evidence-based therapies to simulate real-world situations that test our clients’ coping strategies and life skills. Experiential therapy also helps clients rediscover their passions through equine experiences, animal-assisted therapy, art and music classes, wilderness and adventure sessions, and more.

Family Systems:

Family systems is a type of psychotherapy that involves therapist guidance for the entire family. During these sessions, the focus is on resolving familial conflict as well as rebuilding trust and relationships.

Gender Dysphoria:

Also known as gender identity disorder, these terms are associated with people who are struggling to overcome negative emotions when faced with a physical sex that differs from their preferred self-expression. While we believe in accepting our children as they are, we understand that self-exploration can bring up a lot of painful emotions, including discomfort with your body, rejection from peers, and isolation. Ascend seeks to help teens with the depression or anxiety disorders that may stem from gender dysphoria find a better path towards self-love and understanding.


Harm-reduction therapy is a type of coping skill that helps individuals who are struggling with substance abuse and self-harm. It attempts to limit their ability to harm themselves as they begin their journey towards better mental health.

Matrix Model:

This is a program for clients who have substance abuse issues. It utilizes individual therapy to focus on early recovery, relapse prevention, social support, and family education.

Mental Illness:

Mental illness is any disorder of feeling, thinking, or behavior that disrupts participation and function during everyday life. Ascend is striving to normalize concerns about mental health to ensure that teens reach out when they need help, instead of hiding their symptoms due to fears of ostracization.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy:

During MET, clients work to develop motivation. They might focus first on small goals, like making their bed or brushing their teeth. Later, this motivation therapy can help them completely change their lives.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

OCD refers to anyone who struggles with intrusive impulses, obsessions, or compulsions. Oftentimes, symptoms include repetitive behaviors and rituals, like cleaning or counting. This disorder may also present concurrently with anxiety or depression.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder:

If your teen is struggling with their mental health, they might act out in negative ways. Hostile behavior and defiance of authority figures are signs of potential Oppositional Defiant Disorder and could be interfering with their daily life.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

Many people associate PTSD with soldiers coming back from war zones or other terrible events outside the usual range of human experience. Unfortunately, trauma can happen at home as well. When a shocking or unexpected event overwhelms someone, they may suffer from stress and nightmares, among other symptoms, for months or years.



Have any questions about these terms or any other technical terminology? Ascend is here to help. Reach out to us today at 310.388.3713 to talk about how we can change your life.