Problem Teens: Residential Therapy and Making that Difficult Decision

Seeking residential help can be daunting online.

Seeking residential help can be daunting online.

Summer is here and some parents will be considering summer camps while others are in the midst of hoping their teenager passed the school year, or had enough credits to graduate. If you are the parent of a teen who is struggling with school and acting out, it can drive you to your wit’s end.

Maybe your once fun-loving teenager who is good looking, intelligent, and has lots of good friends is now talking back to you, staying out late or sneaking out, defiant, and possibly sexually active? On the flip side, your once sweet child might be a teenage misfit who is acting out because of bullying, or is experimenting with sex, drugs, and/or alcohol in a desperate attempt to find acceptance.

What happens when you have a teenager that decides they don’t want to finish high school when they are more than capable? Perhaps they were consistently getting excellent grades and now they are just getting by or failing completely.  From an overachiever to an underachiever.  Or you have the teen that used to be a great athlete, was a popular kid in school–suddenly your child has become withdrawn and is hanging with a group of new peers that are less than desirable.

Is this typical teen behavior?

Possible, but how do you know when it is and when you need to intervene?

As the school year is coming to an end, it is a good time for parents to evaluate where their teen is at both emotionally and academically–especially if they are in High School. These are your final years to make a significant difference in their lives, and get them on a positive road towards their futures. When a child is crying out for help by using illegal substances,  running away, flunking in school, becoming secretive, possibly affiliating with a gang, or displaying other negative behavior it is a parent’s responsibility to get involved, as painful as that is, and seek treatment.

When adolescents reach the point of rebelliousness, many parents will try therapy, and this is a good place to start. But the success of local treatment will depend on the child and how far their behavior has escalated. Unfortunately many parents I have spoken to have reported that the one-hour session once a week–or even twice a week–rarely makes a difference in their teen’s behavior. For many parents there comes a time when residential therapy is taken under serious consideration–especially if drugs and/or alcohol are an issue. It is important to seek outside help, and removing a teen from their environment can be critical in getting them the help they need to heal. This is particularly true when a teen needs to be separated from undesirable peers that are instigating or perpetuating their negative behavior.

Though the majority of teens are unwilling to attend residential treatment, most of them are professionally transported by experts in the field. Parents spend a lot of time and stress about this part of the decision, but hiring a professional in this field can lessen the worries. They are trained to work with at-risk youth and will ask you all about your child before they arrive. In speaking with many parents and teens that have successfully used transports, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.

At the end of the day, your teen truly wants to feel good about themselves again, too. They want to be that happy child that you remember. Remember, they were once that a good kid, and they can become that good person again.  Being a teenager isn’t easy, and parenting that child when you have reached your wit’s end is a challenge. Knowing you are not alone helps!

Take away tips for parents:

When seeking residential treatment, I always encourage parents to look for three key components that I call the ACE factor:

  • Accredited Academics (Ask to see their accreditation): Education is important, some programs actually don’t offer it.
  • Clinical (Credentialed therapists on staff): Please note–on staff.
  • Enrichment Programs (Animal assisted programs, culinary, fine arts, sports etc): Enrichment Programs are crucial to your child’s program. They will help build self-esteem and stimulate them in a positive direction. Find a program with something your teen is passionate about or used to be passionate prior their path in a negative direction.

I also encourage parents to avoid three red flags:

  • Marketing arms and sales reps (All those toll-free numbers, be careful of who you are really speaking to and what is in the best interest of your child.)
  • Short term programs (Wilderness programs or otherwise, rarely is there a quick fix. Short term program are usually short term results. They usually will then convince you to go into a longer term program after you are there a few weeks–why not just start with one? Consistency is key in recovery. An average program is 6-9-12 months, depending on your child’s needs and the program.)
  • Statistics that show their success rate (I have yet to see any program or school have a third party–objective survey–perform a true statistical report on a program’s success. Success is an individual’s opinion. You have to do your own due diligence and call parent references.)

For more information about researching residential therapy and helpful tips, visit http://www.helpyourteens.com and don’t forget to review the list of questions for schools and programs so you can make an educated decision.

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Teen Help Programs and Parents Seeking Help for At-Risk Teens

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Parent’s can be stressed, but taking your time to find the right program is worth it.

The recent tragedy in Newtown, CT has many conversations sparked about the need for mental health services.  As a Parent Advocate for over a decade, I speak with parents on a daily basis and hear their desperation for assistance with their tween or teenager.  Some parents are at their wit’s end and feel like a hostage in their own home by their own child, however the resources can be limited for some.

Residential therapy is an excellent option however it can be costly.  Some insurances will help cover the cost, but only a portion of it usually.  In most cases it is usually a PPO insurance that will cover the clinical component of a residential program and even with that, usually a parent has to be prepared to pay the upfront costs and file the claims to be reimbursed. (This all depends on the mental health policy and what it covers).  HMO can be very limited when it comes to mental health, which is why we are hearing a lot about being under-insured in mental health.

When it comes to Residential Treatment Centers, another concern parents need to be aware of is the scams that are out there.  I was once a victim of one over a decade ago, which prompted me to created my organization – Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, Inc. (P.U.R.E.) Parents need to understand there are some programs and schools (or programs that claim to be schools) online with toll free numbers going to marketing arms ready to prey on desperate parents.  This is exactly what happened to us.  Though there are many excellent programs and schools in our country, like with many other businesses, there are always those that are less than what you would want for your child.

I always encourage parents to do their due diligence.  The program that duped my family, though it is closed now, has several other programs opened under different names.  They have a specialty of always changing names, in my opinion.  But you will notice the staff seems to stay the same.  Recently I heard how their LaVerkin, Utah program has gone from Cross Creek to Horizon Academy to Riverview now I just heard they are calling themselves Youth Foundation.  I don’t know – but I do know if you are doing things the right way you don’t have to hide under all these name changes – of course, that is my opinion again.

As you can imagine, this group has a script they share with their potential parents about me too.  I am a disgruntled parent.  Yes, I am – you harm my daughter, a parent becomes disgruntled.  You dupe me, scam me – I become disgruntled. I won in a “jury trial”.  I didn’t settle out court with a confidentiality – though they will tell you a jury made a mistake -I will say not jurors condone child abuse.  Now they are facing another lawsuit.  What is there excuse now?  I assume that is why the name change again.

Either way – use your gut.  If it doesn’t seem right – it usually isn’t.

At the end – your child needs help – get them help.  Don’t make a rash decision, make an educated one.

Behavioral Modification Programs – Specialty Boarding Schools – Teen Help Programs

What exactly is a parent looking for when their once happy bouncing toddler has turned into an out-of-control teenager?

Second semester.  Some teens have had enough. They don’t want to go to school anymore.  They believe they know it all.  It is easier to get a GED, after all, some of their so-called friend are doing it!

As much as you are trying to ignore or just say it is a phase, you notice your teen is withdrawing from the family, failing in school, smell alcohol, maybe even marijuana, cigarettes, and overall have become a child you no longer recognize with a personality that is defiant and totally disrespectful the the family boundaries – what do you do?

Most parents try local therapy – which is a great first step, but when happens when therapy doesn’t work?  You can’t be afraid to take that next step!  A parent in a denial only harms your teenager.  Don’t be held hostage in your home by your teen’s behavior.

Sending a child to a residential program/school is a major decision. It is not one to be taken lightly or to be decided on overnight.

Usually a teen’s behavior has been slowly escalating and a parent knows that deep down things are not getting better.  As much as you hope and pray that things will change, this is only typical teen behavior, sometimes it just isn’t.

With drug use and substance abuse rising – more dangerous and deadly ingredients being used, such as spice and inhalants, parents have reason to be concerned.  It isn’t your marijuana of generations prior – it is so much worse and in many cases – addictive and deadly.

If you have reached your wit’s end and now surfing the Internet for help, remember, anyone can build a website.  Anyone can put up nice pictures and create great content.  You need to do your due diligence.

Years ago I struggled with my own teenager.  I was at my wit’s end.  I didn’t realize what a big business this “teen help industry” was.  Yes, my child needed help, but what we received was anything but that.  My story is a cautionary tale – not one to scare you into not using a program, however on the contrary, you have to get your child help, but you have to do your research in getting them the right help.

You can do it without spending thousands!

Here are some quick tips:

  • Your child is not for sale, try to avoid those marketing arms selling you a list of programs that are not in the best interest of your child’s individual needs.
  • Always speak with an owner or director – Someone that has a vested in your teen’s recovery.  Their reputation is on the line.
  • Wilderness and other short term programs are usually nothing more than a band-aid that will fall off as quickly as the program lasted.  They are expensive camping trips and in most cases the Wilderness program will tell you at about 4 weeks that your teen will need to continue on to a longer term program.  What? Yes, now you go back to the research board and worse than that, your teen will be deflated when he finds out he/she isn’t coming home in 6-9 weeks as they were lead to believe – and they will be starting all over again with a new therapist – new schedule – and new setting.  Don’t get caught up in this “shuffle.”  Start and finish with the same school/program.
  • The average stay should be about 6-9-12 months, depending on your teen.  Anything less is probably non-effective.  Anything more, you may be creating abandonment issues in my opinion.
  • Do you really need an Educational Consultant?  Absolutely not.  You are the parent and no one knows your teen better than you do – with a few tips, you will be able to make some sound choices.

For more helpful hint and tips, please contact www.HelpYourTeens.com for a free consultation. After the ordeal I went through, I created this advocacy organization to help educate parents on finding safe and quality programs.

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Troubled Teens – Parent’s at their Wit’s End!

Yes, your teen is making bad choices.

Yes, your teen is failing.

Yes, your teen is experimenting with drugs.

Yes, your teen is hanging out with less than desirable kids.

Yes, your teen may be having sex.

Yes, your teen is disrespectful.

Yes, your teen needs help!  They don’t need to be harmed!

If you feel you are at your wit’s end and have exhausted all your local resources – therapy isn’t working or your teen simply refuses to go, it may be time to start thinking about residential therapy.

This doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, quite the contrary, you are giving your teen a second opportunity at a bright future.

Need more information? Visit www.HelpYourTeens.com.