Choosing to seek help for a troubled teen through a residential program can be a major decision for any family. It can be scary and overwhelming to entrust your child into the care of others.
Ironically, welcoming that same teen home after successful completion of a treatment program can also be scary and emotional.
Parents might be concerned that their child will return to her old, bad habits once she’s away from the structure of the residential program. They may feel torn by dual needs: to be rigorous and disciplined with their child, and to spoil her with gifts and treats to show how much she was missed.
Bringing a child home from a treatment facility requires some planning and strategy to ensure the best transition home possible. By creating a roadmap and working together as a family, parents can help their child continue on the path of success and re-acclimate into the normal household routine with less drama and less stress for all.
First, work with your teen to establish rules and expectations for her behavior at home. Some families even create a “conduct contract” outlining specific rules, responsibilities and consequences for not following the contract’s terms. This helps to establish accountability and shows your teen that the family is all in this together.
Strike a careful balance between structure and freedom. Your teen probably needs some time to decompress and enjoy the simple pleasures of being home and being reunited with family and friends. But don’t allow a little time off to turn into a new pattern of boredom and disengagement. Encourage your teen to reconnect with activities she enjoyed in the past. If she used to run track, help her reconnect with her team and coach, and see if it’s possible to rejoin the team. If not, give her opportunities to run on her own – or, join her in training for a 5K you can run together as a family.
If her past habits and haunts aren’t positive, leave them in the past, and help her discover new passions. Volunteer at an animal shelter or for a service work trip through your church. Join a book club together, or start one as a family. Allow her to pick a new activity or club to join, and support it wholeheartedly. Not only will it provide a positive use of her time, but it will help her build self-worth and connect with other positive people.
Finally, know that you and your teen are going to make mistakes. Transitioning home after the structure, socialization and focused healing provided in a therapeutic program is difficult. Suddenly, the world no longer turns around your teen and her feelings. And parents may need to readjust, too. They may have settled into new routines while their child was away, or they may struggle to trust that their teen really has changed.
Create an open environment, and encourage your teen to talk to you. But provide other sounding boards for your teen as well. Find a support group, a youth group or other organization of teens who may share her experiences. Continue therapy as appropriate and advised, and follow the recommendations of your teen’s former residential program.
To learn about Compass Rose Academy – and what comes next – visitwww.compassroseacademy.org.