General Terms

Adolescence The period from the onset of puberty until the beginning of adulthood.
Anxiety Extreme apprehensiveness related to uncertainty.
Attachment The bond between infants and their caregivers.
Behaviour Directly observable and measurable human actions.
Bereavement* The process of grieving and letting go of a loved one who has died.
Checklist A list of symptoms of a particular disorder.
Coping Attempts by individuals to deal with the source of stress and/or control their reactions to it.
Development The more-or-less predictable changes in behaviour associated with increasing age.
Disorder An irregularity: disease, ailment or disturbance.
Drug Testing A method using urine or blood to determine the amounts and the types of drugs that are in an individual’s body or bloodstream.
Individuals with Disabilities Act IDEA Identifies specific categories of disabilities under which children may be eligible for special education and related services.
Individual Education Plan IEP A written statement of a child’s educational program that identifies the school accommodations and services a child needs so that he or she may grow and learn during the school year.
Nightmares* A dream occurring during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep that results in feelings of strong terror, fear, distress or extreme anxiety.
Obedience Doing what one is told to do by people in authority.
Obesity* Characterized by excess body weight.
Social Norms Guidelines provided by every culture for judging acceptable and unacceptable behaviour
Trauma The psychiatric definition of “trauma” is “an event outside normal human experience.” It is a sudden and potentially life threatening event. See Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Definitions from
*Definitions from Psychology Today

Clinical Terms

Alcohol Abuse* A pattern of drinking that results in one or more of the following situations within a 12-month period:

  • Failure to fulfill major work, school, or home responsibilities
  • Drinking in situations that are physically dangerous (driving)
  • Having recurring alcohol-related legal problems
  • Ongoing relationship problems caused or worsened by drinking
Assessment A process that involves the integration of information from multiple sources, such as psychological tests, and other information such as personal and medical
history, description of current symptoms and problems as described by the youth and parents, and collateral information review in available.
Behaviour Modification The use of rewards or punishments to reduce or eliminate problematic behaviour, or to teach individuals new responses.
Borderline Personality An impulsive, usually unstable personality style that is characterized by social and relationship problems.
Comorbidity The presence of co-existing or additional diseases or disorders.
Compulsion Repetitive behaviour or rituals.
Compulsive Personality Individuals who are unusually rigid in their behaviour.
Counselling A direct service to assist the client in the resolution of the client’s behavioural, social, mental health, and alcohol or drug abuse issues.
Delusions Systematized false beliefs, often of grandeur or persecution.
Denial A defence mechanism in which a feeling or wish is blocked by the person because the conscious admission of the thought or feeling would be too painful.
Diagnosis The determination that is made on the nature of a disease or disorder.
Diagnostic Refers to something that is used to determine the cause of an illness or disorder.
Dopamine A neurotransmitter involved in various brain structures, including those that control motor action.
DSM-IV Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Fourth Edition. The American Psychiatric Association’s authoritative compendium of differential diagnoses for psychiatric disorders.
Environmental Psychology The effects of the physical environment on behaviour and mental processes.
Executive Function The mental processes that direct a child’s thought, action and emotion.
Generic A drug not protected by a trademark; it signifies the drug’s scientific name rather than the brand name.
Flashback An overwhelming memory of an event or trauma.
Hyperactivity Behaviour, mostly in children, that is marked by high levels of activity and restlessness.
Hypersomnia* Excessive sleepiness that intrudes on daily functions for a month or more may affect teens and young adults. It is also a common accompaniment to depression. Stimulants and adherence to good sleep routines can alleviate symptoms.
Identification The tendency to base one’s identity and actions on individuals who are successful in gaining satisfaction from life.
Intervention A clinical process facilitated by a trained professional whose objective is to interrupt the cycles of addiction in an individual. Intelligence: The ability of a person to reason, to learn from experience, and to cope with daily living.
Intelligence Quotient (IQ) A measure of an individual’s intelligence potential based on a set of norms derived from standardized tests.
Life Events Psychologically significant events that occur in a person’s life, such as divorce, childbirth, or change in employment.
Malingering* Purposeful production of falsely or grossly exaggerated complaints with the goal of receiving a reward. These may include money, insurance settlement, drugs or the avoidance of punishment, work, jury duty, the military or some other kind of service.
Maturation Systematic physical growth of the body, including the nervous system.
Medication Trial In medication therapy, a trial period that tests the dosages and the effects of any new medication that is introduced.
MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging; a safe imaging technique utilizing magnetic resonance used to obtain detailed views of brain structure and function.
Neurotransmitters Chemical substances produced by axons that transmit messages across the synapses.
Obsession Repeating and persistent thoughts, impulses, and images that are unwanted and case anxiety or distress.
Perception The process of organizing and interpreting information received from the outside world.
Personality The typical ways of acting, thinking, and feeling that makes each person unique.
Perpetuating Factors Factors which have occurred or have been occurring for a long period of time throughout the youth’s upbringing.
Phobia Abnormal and persistent fear of very specific situations or things.
Positive Reinforcement A consequence of behaviour that in turn leads to an increase in the probability of that behaviour’s reoccurrence.
Precipitating Factors Most recent, situational factors that are likely to have called attention to the youth’s behaviour resulting in action by the family.
Predisposing Factors Factors which increase youth’s inclination to demonstrate the major difficulties, often in the form of historical diagnoses.
Presenting Factors Perspective on the major difficulties experienced by youth and family.
Puberty The stage in physical development at which the individual is first physically capable of sexual reproduction.
Recovery Personal process of discovery, release, and change in the lives of an individual, whether
recovering from addiction to substances, compulsion, or some other dysfunction. Generally, Recovery (with a capital “R”) refers
more to the results of the 12-Step Program and self-help support groups that follow that method.
School Phobia An inappropriate fear of attending school, causing anxiety.
Self-Medication Self-treatment of disturbances and disorders using medications, drugs, and alcohol among other methods.
Sleep Apnea* Breathing is disrupted during sleep. The brain will automatically restart the process,
often without the subject’s conscious awareness, but there is a physical toll. At minimum,
sleep apnea results in daytime fatigue. At worst, it is associated with heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Sleepwalking* Sleepwalking, or somnambulism, occurs most often in children 6 to 12 years old and is generally benign, although repeated episodes deserve investigation. The subject appears awake, but is not, and will not remember his actions.
Social Phobia Anxiety caused by social or performance situations.
Stages of Change
  • Pre-Contemplation
Resistant to treatment, in denial
  • Contemplation
Seriously considering solving the problem
  • Preparation/ Determination
Planning to take action within the next month
  • Action
Behaviour is changing
  • Maintenance
Consolidating behaviour and working to prevent lapse or relapse from occurring
  • Relapse
Participating in the problematic action
Stress Any event or circumstance that strains or exceeds an individual’s ability to cope.
Substance Abuse The continued use of alcohol or other drugs even while knowing that the continued use is creating problems socially, physically, or psychologically.
Termination Change has occurred and the former problem presents no threat
Definitions from
*Definitions from Psychology Today


Adderall Stimulant medication used to treat the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder.
Amphetamine* Substances taken to boost energy, mood and confidence, as well as to suppress appetite. Include dextroamphetamines and methamphetamines (speed, meth, chalk, ice, crystal, crank and glass).
(ganja, weed, reefer and grass)
Also known as, cannabis-marijuana is a psychoactive herb that comes from the hemp plant. This mind-altering substance is an
illegal drug in most states.Marijuana is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa.
Cocaine* The stimulant directly affects brain function, and long-term addiction leads to extensive physiological and psychological problems.
Depressants Drugs that reduce the activity of the central nervous system, leading to a sense of relaxation, drowsiness, and lowered inhibitions.
(LSD, PCP, Ketamine; naturally occurring hallucinogens Peyote, Psilocybin aka Magic Mushrooms)
Drugs that cause hallucinations-profound distortions in a person’s perceptions of reality, including delusions and false notions.
Inhalants Toxic substances that produce a sense of intoxication when inhaled.
Narcotics Powerful and highly addictive depressants.
Nicotine* Most heavily used addictive drugs in the U.S., and the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the U.S. Cigarette smoking accounts
for 90% of lung cancer cases in the U.S., and about 38,000 deaths per year can be attributed to secondhand smoke. Most cigarettes in the U.S. market today
contain 10 milligrams (mg) or more of nicotine. The average smoker takes in 1 to 2 mg nicotine per cigarette when inhaling.
(morphine and codeine)
A class of controlled pain-management drugs that contain natural or synthetic chemicals based on morphine, the active component of opium.
Paxil An antidepressant medication
Prescription Drugs Legally prescribed by a doctor for medical purposes; illegally used for recreational purposes (i.e., oxycontin, Ritalin)
Ritalin A stimulant medication used to treat ADD.
Stimulant Drugs that increase the activity of the central nervous system, providing a sense of energy and well-being.
Definitions from
*Definitions from Psychology Today

Medical Conditions

ADD See Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity
ADHD See Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity
Adjustment Disorder Conditions with emotional or behavioural symptoms that are in response to identifiable psychological and social stress.
Affective Disorder See Mood Disorders
Agoraphobia* A fear of any place where escape may be difficult, including large open spaces or crowds, as well as various means of travel.
Alcoholism Addiction to alcohol.
Anorexia Nervosa Anorexia is an eating disorder primarily in females that is characterized by the inability to consistently maintain adequate body weight, an intense fear of becoming obese, and an unrealistic, negative body image.
Antisocial Personality Disorder A condition characterized by impulsive antisocial behaviour such as lying, stealing, and sometimes violence, and lack of shame and guilt.
Anxiety Disorders Anxiety disorders can cause intense feelings of anxiety and tension even when there is no apparent danger and the symptoms can cause distress and interfere with daily activities.
Asperger’s Syndrome Asperger’s Syndrome, also known as Asperger’s Disorder or Autistic Psychopathy, is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder
(PDD) that is characterized by severe impairment in social interaction and the development of restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour.
Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADD/ADHD) A developmental disorder that is characterized by inappropriate degrees of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Autism A childhood disorder that usually appears before the age of 30 months that is characterized by withdrawal, self-stimulation, language and learning disorders.
Avoidant Personality Disorder* Extreme shyness and fear of rejection make it difficult to interact socially and professionally.
Binge Eating Disorder People with binge eating disorder, or compulsive overeating frequently consume large amounts of food while feeling a lack of control over their eating.
Bipolar Disorder / Manic Depression A mood disorder that involves extreme mood swings from mania-high to depression-low.
Bulimia An eating disorder characterized by the uncontrolled consumption of large amounts of food (binging) followed by purging methods such as self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse
Childhood Depression Similar to depression in adults, children may show depression by being unable to enjoy activities that
they once enjoyed, complaining about physical ailments, or may seem bored and have problems concentrating, among other symptoms.
Compulsive overeating Compulsive overeating is an eating disorder which involves binge eating but without the purging aspects of bulimia.
Conduct Disorder (CD) A persistent pattern of behaviour in which the basic rights of others and important social norms and rules are violated.
Co-occurring Disorders See Comorbidity
Communication Disorders* Include problems related to speech, language and auditory processing.
Cyclothymia* Mild form of bipolar disorder, characterized by episodes of hypomania (elevated mood and euphoria) and moderate depression.
Dependent Personality Disorder* A psychiatric condition marked by an overreliance on other people to meet one’s emotional and physical needs.
Depression A mood disorder characterized by extreme sadness and feelings of hopelessness.
Developmental Disorders Serious delays in the development of one or more areas of development and functioning.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)* Formerly referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder, is a condition wherein a person’s identity is fragmented into two or more distinct personalities.
Dyslexia Describes a reading disability that is characterized by impaired word recognition or decoding skills or reading comprehension difficulties.
Dysthymia* Low-grade depression, is less severe than major depression but more chronic. It occurs twice as often in women as in men.
Eating Disorder A group of disorders characterized by physiological and psychological disturbances in appetite or food intake.
Emotional Disturbance / Behavioural Disorder A term to classify children who exhibit extreme and/or unacceptable behaviour problems.
Encopresis* An involuntary passage of feces (stools) by a child age four or more in inappropriate places such as clothing.
Enuresis* The involuntary discharge of urine by a child age 5 and over.
Explosive Disorder The failure to resist aggressive impulses resulting in destruction of property or other violent acts.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) A condition affecting the children of mothers who consume large quantities of alcohol during pregnancy; it can involve learning disabilities, attention difficulties, and physical and emotional disability.
Histrionic Personality Disorder* Constant attention-seeking, emotional overreaction and suggestibility.
Hypomania An episode in which the individual experiences a mild form of mania consisting of emotional highs, scattered thoughts, and over-activity.
Insomnia* An inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, or a tendency to wake up too early or experience poor sleep.
Intermittent Explosive Disorder* Falls in the category of Impulse-Control Disorders. The condition is characterized by failure to
resist aggressive impulses, resulting in serious assaults or property destruction. Examples of this behavior include threatening
to or actually hurting another person and purposefully breaking or damaging an object of value.
Kleptomania Compulsively steal items that are not needed or have little monetary value, and experience a rush of pleasure as a result.
Language Disorder A deficiency or lag in the ability to express ideas or understand language.
Learning Disabilities Impairment in a specific mental process that affects learning.
Mania A mood disorder characterized by racing thoughts, pressured speech, irritability or euphoria, and marked impairments in judgment. See Bi-polar disorder.
Manic-Depression See Bi-Polar Disorder
Mental Retardation* A condition diagnosed before age 18, usually in infancy or prior to birth, that includes below-average general intellectual
function, and a lack of the skills necessary for daily living. When onset occurs at age 18 or after, it is called dementia, which can coexist with an MR diagnosis.
Mood Disorder Psychological disorders such as depression and bi-polar that involve depression and/or abnormal elation.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder* Characterized by a lack of ability to empathize with others and a desire to keep the focus on themselves at all times.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): This disorder is characterized by anxious thoughts or rituals.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder A pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behaviour.
Paranoid Personality Disorder* Excessive distrust and suspicion characterize this condition. Paranoid personalities rarely confide in others, and tend to misinterpret harmless comments and behavior as malicious.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) An anxiety disorder in which symptoms develop following an extremely distressing event such as sexual assault or military combat.
Panic Attacks / Panic Disorder A stress-related, brief feeling of intense fear that causes physiological reactions such as rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, and dizziness.
Personality Disorders Psychological disorders characterized by personality patterns that cause the inability to get along with others.
Psychosis / Psychotic Disorders An extreme disorder marked by distorted perceptions of reality and n many cases accompanied by hallucinations and delusions.
Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) A disturbance that involves social interactions due sometimes to the result of the neglect of the child’s basic physical and emotional needs.
Schizoid Personality Disorder* An indifference to social relationships and a limited range of emotional expression.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder* A psychiatric condition marked by disturbed thoughts and behavior, unusual beliefs and fears (such as of witches or aliens), and an inability to form intimate relationships.
Seasonal Affective Disorder* Is a depression that normally occurs in winter months, in response to changes in the natural day/night cycle. Artificial light therapy is an effective treatment.
Separation Anxiety Intense anxiety experienced by children whenever they are separated from their parents.
Sleep disorders Any of a variety of disturbances of sleep.
Speech Disorders Unintelligible or impaired oral communication.
Tourette’s Syndrome Tourette’s Syndrome is a neurobiological disorder characterized by involuntary tics and/or inappropriate vocal outbursts.
Definitions from
*Definitions from Psychology Today


Clinical Psychologists Mental health professionals who have earned a doctoral degree in psychology and have received extensive clinical training.
Counsellor, LCPC A Licensed Clinical Professional Counsellor is a mental health professional trained in the application of psychotherapy techniques.
Educational Advocate A person who can serve as a go-between and an interpreter of the laws of special needs students and who is an expert in IEP evaluations and planning procedures and processes.
Educational Consultant An educational consultant is someone who advises on educational planning, placement for at-risk students, and general counselling on educational placement.
Educational Psychology The field in which principles of learning, cognition, and other aspects of psychology are applied to improve education.
Learning Specialist Professional who assesses people to determine if they have learning disabilities or are eligible for Special Education, and provides remedial help to them.
Psychiatric Social Workers Trained mental health professionals who understand the effects of environmental factors of mental disorders.
Psychiatrists Mental health professionals who have earned their M.D. degree, psychiatrists are experts in medication therapies, diagnoses, psychotherapy, or psychoanalysis.
Psycho-educational Diagnostician Mental health professionals who provide assessments and make recommendations for the treatment of ADD and/or learning disabilities.
Psychologist A professional who holds a degree in psychology and is licensed to furnish diagnostic, assessment, preventative, and therapeutic services to individuals.
Psychotherapist A mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counsellor who practices psychotherapy.
School Psychologist A psychologist who aids schools by testing children to determine eligibility for placement in special education programs and who consults with teachers and parents.
Definitions from

Approach to Therapy

12-step programs A system of recovery that that follows an evolving 12-step rule program.
Biofeedback Biofeedback is a method of controlling bodily functions using electronic equipment to continuously monitor a physical response, such as breathing, and convert these measurements into signals that a person can read and understand.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) A form of psychological therapy that focuses on directly changing both cognitive processes and behaviour
Cognitive Restructuring A type of cognitive therapy that teaches an individual how to identify negative, irrational beliefs and replace them with truthful, rational statements.
Cognitive Therapy Any therapeutic approach that teaches people new beliefs, new expectations, and new ways of thinking.
Day Treatment Therapeutic or medical treatment on an outpatient, daily basis.
Detoxification The treatment that is designed to free an addict from his or her addiction.
Drama Therapy / Psychodrama Drama therapy is defined by the National Association for Drama Therapy as “the systematic and
intentional use of drama/theatre processes, products, and associations to achieve the therapeutic goals of symptom relief, emotional and physical integration and personal growth.”
Drug Therapy A medical therapy that uses chemicals to treat abnormal behaviour.
EEG Biofeedback Therapy EEG biofeedback therapy, also known as neurofeedback, is a type of biofeedback therapy specifically utilizing brain-wave information
Exposure Therapy A form of behavioural therapy that slowly exposes a person to whatever triggers their problem.
Experiential Therapy A method of therapy that is ‘hands on’ for both the therapist and the individual being treated: some examples of this are equine therapy and outdoor adventure programs.
Family Therapy A therapeutic method that involves the entire family unit.
Group Therapy Psychotherapy conducted in groups.
Inpatient Treatment Treatment on a 24/7 basis in a residential or live-in facility.
Marriage Therapy A form of treatment in which a therapist treats both husband and wife and the partnership as a whole.
Medication Therapy Treating diseases or disorders through the use of medications. Modeling: Learning based on observation of the behaviour of another.
Multi-modal Treatment Multi-modal treatment or therapy is a combination of both medication and behaviour modification.
Neuro-feedback Also known as EEG Biofeedback Therapy, it is sometimes used to improve attention control abilities.
Nutrition Therapy A method of treating disorders and diseases through the use of carefully monitored nutritional diets.
Occupational Therapy Occupational therapists evaluate, treat, and consult with individuals whose abilities to
cope with the tasks of everyday living are threatened or impaired by physical illness or injury, psychosocial disability, or developmental deficits.
Outdoor Therapy Programs in which adolescent participants are placed by parents or custodial authorities to change destructive, dysfunctional, or problem behaviours, through clinically supervised therapeutic activities in outdoor settings.
Outpatient Treatment Treatment where patients are not required to stay overnight at the facility.
Psychopharmacology The management of psychiatric illness using medication such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety medications.
Psychotherapy The treatment of mental disorders, emotional problems, and personality difficulties through talking with a therapist.
Psychoanalysis A method of psychological treatment that emphasizes unconscious motives and conflicts.
Psychoanalytic Method The means to bring forth unconscious motives and conflicts into the consciousness.
Recovery Programs A systematic method to facilitate and create continuity in the recovery of individuals.
Rehabilitation To restore to good health or useful life, as through therapy and education
Remedial Education Education that focuses on fixing deficiencies, teaching basic skills and content mastery.
Residential Treatment Program for troubled youth The definition of an RTP varies, however it can be defined as a facility operated for the primary purpose of providing residential psychiatric care to individuals.
Social Skills Training The use of techniques of operant conditioning to teach social skills to persons who lack them.
Special Education Resource programs and all other special accommodations that support, modify or supplement the standard education program of public school.
Support Groups Any group without a physician that offers support and help through common experience to an individual; examples are 12-step programs, Internet support groups, and Weight Watchers.
Therapeutic Wilderness Program A method of experiential therapy that challenges the individual, helps promote cooperation and helps build self-esteem.
Definitions from

Types of Treatment Programs

Assessment and Crisis Stabilization A program that identifies and defines the problem and assists with preparation for treatment through corresponding recommendations specific to the clients needs.
Boarding School
for struggling teens
Schools with a rigorous academic curriculum coupled with very high achievement expectations but not intended for youth with behaviour challenges or drug problems.
Boot Camp
for troubled teenstypically not found in Canada or Alberta
High intensity, mentally and physically challenging camps based on a military philosophy
of obedience and discipline. Tend to implement procedures that are designed to “strip away” old attitudes or
attempt to “break them down and build them back up” in order to see immediate compliance with program expectations.
Christian Programs or faith based treatment programs
for struggling teens in Canada
Faith based programs that declare values typically cohesive to their client population they serve. Range from therapeutic boarding schools to ranches to community based residential treatment.
Community-Based Residential Programs or day treatment for struggliung teens Include individualized or small group therapy for youth with emotional, behavioural or drug problems usually implemented with the intention of slowly but purposefully integrating the youth back into the community based environment.
Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment program for troubled youth available in Alberta A residential treatment program with the sole purpose or focus on addictions, and drug and alcohol use.
Emotional Growth Schools See therapeutic boarding schools for troubled teen girls or struggling teen girls
Military School
for troubled youth or youth with ADHD etc in Ontario
Schools that combine academics with military style approach to routines and order within the campus environment with a focus on obedience and following the hierarchy of command.
Outdoor Therapeutic Programs See wilderness program for struggling teens
for troubled youth avaliable in Alberta
Programs that implement counselling, therapy, wilderness adventure and academics in their treatment process.
Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs) for troubled youth Range from lock-down facilities to a hospital style program to a self enclosed campus environment. Structure and intervention methods vary from center to center.
Summer Camp for struggling teens Accessed during summer months to provide teens and parents alternative options.
Transitional Independent Living Program for struggling youth or young adults ages 18-25 Residential programs that integrate independent living skills, emotional growth, education and vocation opportunities with healthy recreation activities.
Therapeutic Boarding Schools
for struggling or troubled teens
in Alberta or Ontario
Schools that offer social, emotional and behavioural support along with counselling or therapy and an academic curriculum designed to meet the needs of their student population.
Wilderness Program Programs that utilize an expedition style backcountry setting, typically incorporating an element of perceived risk, which
encourages teens to move beyond their comfort zones and face their issues and fears. Counselling and therapy may be provided.
Young Adult A range of residential treatment and supportive living environments specifically designed to meet the needs of young adults over 18 years of age.