The therapeutic features to look for in a residential treatment center are easy to spot. Ideally there will be round-the-clock behavioral therapists or counselors who get to know the teens in a hands-on, casual manner. Also be aware of self-directed treatment plans that are maintained through group therapy, individual counseling and family counseling. A treatment center that has long-term affects wouldn’t’ dare let your child believe that he’s the entire root of all the family’s struggles, expect to be an active participant in counseling, and to have a transition plan in place upon graduation. This ensures that the transformation made during treatment isn’t “undone” with statements like “I was fine until I came home; you always ruin everything.” Since blaming others is an unhealthy communication skill that teens sometimes resort to when things go wrong.
Another important thing that goes on in a residential treatment center is the social environment that’s designed to foster healthy relationships. Instead of the same destructive friendships that the teens have picked up along the way, they end up with a new set of friends, from diverse backgrounds, that encourage each other to be their best. They might not all like the same kind of music, but their friendships grow in a positive environment where enabling unhealthy behavior is seriously not cool.
Academically, therapeutic treatment centers for teens succeed for the same reason independent study and home schooling succeed. It’s because the social environment of the classroom, along with the teacher-student dictatorship simply doesn’t exist. There’s no one to act out for, no one to impress. Learning is just that. In areas where the student excels, they’re not held back by a classroom, they can learn as fast as they want and in areas that are more difficult, they’re afforded one on one instruction, and not criticized for needing help.
Residential treatment centers work because they address all therapies in a way that’s specifically designed to honor the needs of a child who is turning into an adult. By focusing on a treatment plan around the clock, teens are able to make quick transformations in their lives, addressing destructive patterns and replacing them with healthy patterns that are allowed to grow and be nurtured in a safe environment. Transitioning back into family life is done with care, so that family members (even siblings) are able to benefit from new communication skills and to have an appreciation for the intensity of the treatments that the teens have undergone.
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