Most parents struggle with the decision to enroll their troubled teen in a residential treatment program. The path to a program is usually paved by disappointments, guilt, family trauma and distrust. And unfortunately, that stress and worry doesn’t always end with enrollment —— no matter how reputable the staff or beautiful the campus.
The good news is, concern and separation anxiety are completely normal —— and after an adjustment period, both you and your teen will begin to heal. However, your experience will be more positive if you know what to expect while your child is in a residential treatment program.
Expect that you will have to learn how to trust your child’s care to others. And that it will be difficult.
It’s critical that parents have a good rapport and foundation of trust with the counselors and staff who will care for your teen. It is challenging to relinquish control of your child to another person. However, it’s counterproductive to your teen’s therapeutic success —— and your own peace of mind —— to question every decision along your child’s care journey. This can be a tremendous source of self-created stress. You may not understand the process of your teen’s residential treatment center, but you should feel comfortable trusting your teen to their care, and secure in the knowledge that they have your family’s best interest in mind.
Expect to ask lots of questions — and to be asked lots of questions, too.
Don’t go in to your teen’s treatment program blindly — make a list of your questions and concerns and review them with your teen’s counselor or program director. Get an email address and phone number for someone at your child’s residential treatment facility who will be your personal contact for any issues that could arise. In addition, you should expect to be an engaged part of your child’s recovery team. This means answering questions that will help in her therapy, participating in family events and counseling and being open to discovering how you play a part in her treatment.
Expect to discuss your family dynamic or other sensitive, family-centric issues.
While your teen is the one receiving treatment, her problems are likely impacting the entire family. In addition, it’s possible that your home environment or family experiences may be contributing to your teen’s behavior issues. During the program, your family life is one of the factors your teen’s care team will consider — without assigning blame. Every piece of feedback or input is important — be open to the process.
Expect to participate in every way allowable.
Don’t think once your child is on campus, the residential treatment center will do all the work. Inject yourself in your teen’s care through phone calls, texts, Skype, in-person visits, letter writing and family therapy. Stay active — you need to still be a primary positive influence on your child’s life, even while she is away from home.
Expect to work hard on your family relationship.
If your relationship with your teen has gone downhill and it seems like nothing but a series of battles, find the fun again. Entrusting your teen to a residential treatment program means you aren’t fighting the daily battles. Take this chance to build a new and improved relationship.
Expect to feel a little guilty — but don’t overcompensate.
You don’t need to rescue your teen or “make it up to her” because you sought needed treatment for her problems. Don’t be tempted to buy her lots of things to compensate for the fact she’s away from home.
Expect your teen to express unhappiness or anger — especially in the early days of treatment.
Make her feel heard, but don’t be tempted to turn against the staff and treatment providers. You need to present a united front to your teen.
Expect to feel some relief that your teen is in treatment.
You may literally be sleeping better, knowing you won’t have to wait up for your teen to sneak back in the house, or for a call from police. Chances are, you have been stressed and anxious for a long time as a result of your child’s behavior. Take comfort in the fact that your teen is receiving the care she needs in a safe and nurturing environment. Allow yourself to feel peace.
To learn more about what to expect while your teen is in a residential treatment facility, contact Compass Rose Academy today.