If your son or daughter is about to go away to live in a residential treatment center, there are a number of things you should know. And ‘you’ in this case is both the teen and the parents. Fear of the unknown is a real feeling and can often be removed by a simple explanation. No-one should feel anxious about time spent in a treatment center so please read and digest this information. Take it on board and discuss it with your child so everyone has a clear idea of what to expect.
The first thing to know is that there is a low staff/resident ratio and that most groups are about 8 in number. So every teen will have ready access to a therapist or member of staff. And once you arrive on site, each teen will be welcomed and given a tour of the facility. Getting on with fellow residents is an important part of the program and residents are placed with other teens who are most like them and with the same type of needs and issues. Do not think you will be placed with inappropriate residents.
Where you go as far as group membership is concerned depends on some simple testing procedures which occur soon after arrival. The aim of the facility is to obviously help you with your problems but to also help you grow socially and work well within a group.
The parents are certainly involved at the beginning and work with staff to set a series of goals for each residency. These goals have to be realistic and the parents will know what their child is capable of. The come the rules. These tend to be strict at first but are reduced in most cases once the program is commenced. It is both a reward and an incentive for each teen. They obey the rules are able to stay up late or do things that were restricted at first. It’s all part of the growth of the individual helping them to gain confidence and self-esteem.
One important aspect is the end date for your stay at the facility. If a resident is told they will be going home on a specific date, there is a strong temptation to slacken off and coast until their time is up. Most centers do not announce an end day and urge residents to work hard at all times. The end date can be moved by the staff depending on the success and commitment shown by each resident.
Staff members are qualified and experienced. They are used to handling troubled teens with all sorts of issues and problems. Staff members take great pride in helping the residents overcome their problem, learn to set goals and make real progress. Staff members want each teen to leave the center with skills and the determination to make a real go of things back in the outside world.
Make yourself aware of what to expect once you arrive at a youth residential treatment center. Knowing what to expect is half the battle.