When your teen continually makes poor decisions and is spiraling down, he/she may need to be placed into a program that stops the behavior and addresses the underlying emotional needs. We visit schools and programs that serve teens-at-risk in order to keep current with how they deliver their services. We talk with the students enrolled there. We ascertain the qualifications of the staff members and modality of treatment, from cognitive-behavioral to equine-assisted therapy. We meet the head clinician and therapists who in the future, may be working with your child. We also consider how the program reaches out to the parents of the teen, since we believe that parents need to be keenly involved in their own change as their teen progresses through the program.
Today’s teens are dealing with a myriad of issues as they make the difficult transition from childhood to the adult world. They long for acceptance, independence, self-confidence and a sense of achievement. They are often in a love/hate relationship with their parents or others that may be close to them. In ever increasing numbers teens are dealing with this pressure cooker environment that emphasizes perfection in very disturbing ways:
- They can become hostile to parents and teachers often acting out verbally and sometimes physically.
- They self-medicate in order to free themselves from the feelings and emotions that give them the pain they feel from not being accepted or as perfect as their peers.
- They may begin associating with peers that that are not appropriate. These “friends” may be drug dealers, malcontents or rabble-rousers: those that live life on the fringes looking for excitement or antisocial shock.
- They may manifest signs of significant psychological disorders including clinical depression, ADD/ADHD, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, thought and personality disorders as well as addictive behaviors such as substance abuse.
These issues often seem to arrive suddenly but for the most part they have deep seated roots that may have been years in the making. Parents and the child facing this dilemma may see these situations as a crisis and may need professional intervention beyond normal psychological counseling or therapy. This is particularly true if the child is threatening to harm himself or others or whose addictions may place him in a life threatening situation.
While this entire process is complex and charged with emotion, the range of treatment options is clear with the level of care and intensity increasing from a simple boarding school placement to admission to an acute care psychiatric hospital. Having visited and maintained contact with the best boarding schools, Wilderness programs and Emotional Growth/RTC programs, we understand this continuum of care intimately as we constantly assess their approach, their staff and clinicians. Most importantly, we talk directly with the teens that are residents of these schools or programs. Take a look at brief explanations of each type of program on our Struggling Teens Continuum of Care Comparison info sheet.