Section: Mission Hospital News

Mission Hospital Laguna Beach Launches Adolescent Dual Diagnosis Program


Mission Hospital provides a much needed service to the 14 to 17 year old teen population.

Mission Viejo, CA – Mission Hospital Laguna Beach is launching a program for adolescents who are struggling with both psychological issues and chemical dependency. This is tailored to meet a huge need in the community – helping our adolescents aged 14 to 17 years old, cope with mental health wellness.

The program is designed to be very comprehensive and is structured as an afterschool Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). The adolescents will attend three groups a day Monday through Thursday, from 4 to 7:30 p.m. The evidence-based treatment curriculum was created with the goal of helping adolescents become motivated for positive change to occur, learn ways to achieve and maintain sobriety, as well as manage co-occurring mood and behavioral disorders. The group topics aggressively address and teach coping skills that will be pivotal in helping the adolescents develop good mental health practices and lifelong sobriety. The Twelve Steps approach is also a part of the curriculum.

“Living a substance free lifestyle is our vision for all teens in south Orange County. Our new services for adolescents will play a major role in making this vision a reality,” states Fred Richmond, Ph.D., executive director of Behavioral Health Services at Mission Laguna Beach.

To further enhance the program, individual therapy time for each adolescent will be provided by the licensed clinicians. Because family treatment is equally important in creating a successful outcome for the adolescents, multi-family sessions are included in the group treatment schedule.

In addition, a parenting program will run one evening a week in order to equip parents with the necessary skills to effectively parent and support their adolescents. Each family unit will be required to meet individually with a therapist at least once a week to discuss challenges specific to them and obtain strategies on how to overcome them.

"Our goal is to reach out to the community to connect with teens and their families who could benefit from such an intensive program. Emotional pain should not be the leading force in the lives of families. Instead, healthy relationships and a healthy approach to life should take the lead, with individuals living life as if it counts and as if they make a positive difference...because it does and they can,” comments Debbie Hutchinson, Psy.D., manager of outpatient behavioral health programs at Mission Laguna Beach.

While the groups have a psycho-educational and psychotherapeutic framework, there is also an emphasis on experiential treatment to meet the developmental needs of the adolescents. Complementary approaches such as yoga and art therapy are included in the group sessions on a weekly basis.

About Mission Hospital

As a part of the St. Joseph Hoag Health network of care, Mission Hospital was founded in Mission Viejo in 1971 and has since grown to a two-campus facility with 552 beds and approximately 2,500 employees. Mission Hospital has been serving the greater needs of the community for over 40 years, improving the quality of life in the communities it serves. Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo is an acute care, full-service facility providing advanced health care services and diagnostic care to south Orange County and is the only designated trauma center in south Orange County. Mission Hospital Laguna Beach (MHLB) joined the Mission Hospital family and St. Joseph Health in 2009, providing south Orange County coastal communities with 24- hour emergency and intensive care as well as medical-surgical/telemetry services. Mission Hospital offers specialty care in behavioral health, imaging, heart, neuroscience and spine, orthopedics and women’s services. CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital is a 48-bed facility that is the area’s only dedicated pediatric hospital for more than two decades. Fully accredited by The Joint Commission, Mission Hospital has received numerous awards and recognition for its high quality of care. For more information, visit