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Outpatient day therapy helps fight depression, behavioral issues

Outpatient day therapy can be a big help to teens fighting depression and behavioral issues.

TAYLORSVILLE — Depression knows no bounds, especially in teenagers who suffer from it and other behavioral issues. But hope still abounds for them in the form of outpatient day therapy in Utah.

Something wasn’t right in the eyes of this Utah mother who spoke with KSL Newsradio.

“It’s hard to know what is normal teenage behavior, versus, this is a warning sign, and they have said or done something that crosses a line,” she said.

Her 17-year-old daughter stayed in bed, missed school for days, had severe anxiety and paranoia. They tried medicines and talk therapy.

One day, the girl told her mother, “I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to live.”

The two want to stay anonymous, especially after the teen tried to harm herself. That led to a trip to the emergency room, and then to the Wasatch Canyons Behavioral Health Campus.

By then, Mom said she felt, “A lot of worry, a little bit of guilt. Should I have brought her in sooner? But also, relief, knowing that she was going to start a journey and get the care that she needed to get better.”

The teen spent a few nights there, then began weeks of daily outpatient therapy. Most teens are skeptical when they arrive.

“Well, first of all, I validate their feelings,” said Samantha Castleton, LCSW at Wasatch Canyons. “It makes sense that it’s uncomfortable. It makes sense that they don’t want to be here.”

Therapists work with teens through outpatient day therapy at Wasatch Canyons

Therapists work with teens through outpatient day therapy at Wasatch Canyons


Castleton works with a team of psychiatrists and therapists.

“And that way, we can look at that bio-psycho-social approach, making sure we are helping kids not just from one direction, but from multiple directions,” she said

Wasatch Canyons also stresses DBT, or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.

“These are skillsets to help kids regulate their emotions, tolerate distress, and communicate more effectively,” Castleton said.

Gardening, art and music are some of the things offered through outpatient day therapy

Wasatch Canyons offers outpatient day therapy for teens in Taylorsville.

In these programs, parents and children get the same lessons so they communicate better.

Doctor Kristi Kleinschmit is medical director for the University Neuropsychiatric Institute’s Kidstar and Teenscope programs.

“There’s a home note that the families fill out,” Dr. Kleinschmit said. “We get feedback about how the kids are doing. We can change their treatment plan based on that.”

Her programs, and those at Wasatch Canyons, have fully accredited schools with music, recreation and art, as well as a transition program to place teens back into regular school.

An example of artwork from teens in outpatient day therapy

Through outpatient day therapy, teens may participate in DBT or music and art classes

“We’ll actually have the kids go to school for a day, and then come back and check in with us, so that we can make sure they’re reintegrating into school in the least stressful way,” Dr. Kleinschmit said.

Insurers work with these and other providers of outpatient day therapy.

The 17-year-old girl had a relapse and a second stay at Wasatch Canyons this summer. But Mom says she just started senior year.

“Every day, her brain develops a little bit more, and she gets more practice with the skills that she learns,” the mother said. “I know she’ll be OK someday.”