After your teens come home from a residential treatment center, most parents have some worries regarding how to help them keep momentum after treatment. Planning in advance can be essential during this time of transition to living at home again. Discharge planning should start immediately upon their arrival in treatment, so that you can put the plan into place as soon as they leave the program.
Stick with the Discharge Plan
- Talk with the staff of the residential facility. Talk with the professionals who are caring for your teens to get a discharge plan in place that indicates exactly how, where, and when to get involved in follow-up services. This discharge plan should include a comprehensive outline that describes the six months after discharge. Learn how best to set up aftercare services and what role the treatment center will take in those months. For instance, some programs provide in-home services, respite school, and can even offer assistance placing your teen in a school. Does the program provide recommendations or contacts? Do they have a service which will handle the scheduling of appointments?
- Be honest about your concerns regarding discharge. Talk with the staff at the treatment center frankly about the environment at your home. Cover both strengths and weaknesses of your home as they relate to your teenager’s potential success there. Discuss the discharge with your daughter to understand her worries, as well. Ask her what kind of support she anticipates needing as well.
- Set up services for your teen. Whether it is counseling or opportunities for community service, make sure to schedule appointments in advance so that the transition from the residential facility is as smooth as possible, avoiding interruptions in treatment, especially medication. The goal is for your teen to move from the facility to your home with at least a week of medications so that you’ll have ample time to fill any prescriptions.
- Family therapy. Family therapy, whether through the treatment center or an outside service, can be a powerful tool. As a parent, you can even consider beginning these sessions before your teen’s return home. Once they have discharged, weekly meetings in the family home can be helpful, as well. Your teen will be experiencing a bit of shock coming from such a highly structured environment into a family home. Making every attempt to continue this structure is beneficial to these teens. Improving communication at home can also ease the transition for any siblings who might have a hard time understanding what’s going on or have any concerns about it.
Anticipate Some Setbacks
When your teen comes home, there could very easily be a drop off. Talk to your treatment center to learn whether or not you can or should contact them if a problem arises shortly after discharge. Other services that can be utilized are local community mental health services. If you anticipate needing this kind of assistance, approach them before your teenager returns home . Explain your teenager’s diagnosis and specific needs to them, so that they can be well prepared to help in case there is an issue. As a parent, flexibility and understanding are paramount to your child’s wellbeing during this time, particularly in the event of a setback.
Going Back to School
When your teenager starts attending school again, they will be presented with the opportunity for structure and socialization. However, since they are coming from residential placement, their needs and learning styles might be different now. If at all possible, discuss the situation with your teen’s teachers and explain to them his situation. The more understanding the educators have of what’s going on with your teen, the better they can be of service.
It’s important to provide structure and routine for your teenager. Your son or daughter will be coming from a highly structured environment and continuing that to some degree is vital. Teens who return home from treatment and are faced with an unstructured schedule and a lax routine tend to feel lost and unguided. Before your teen discharges from treatment, discuss their interests with them and the staff at the treatment center. Talk to local parks and recreations departments and the school district to find out about activities that could be available and in line with your teen’s interests. Try to set some things up before your teen’s return. Giving your child opportunities to meet kids with similar interests can build relationships which keep up healthy socializing. Some examples are school clubs, team sports, and volunteering. In addition to peers, these activities will put your son in touch with positive role models and authority figures. This often forms the foundation for a healthy emotional support network.
Do not Neglect Self Care
Caring for a teenager going through behavioral issues or mental illnesses can be an exhausting ordeal. Make sure that you are taking ample time for yourself. Everyone in the family has to make sure that their own mental and physical needs are being met. An exhausted family is of no use to a troubled teen! Find ways to alleviate stress in the family unit, like going out to dinner, working out, enjoying the arts, or going to a movie. There are also support groups for parents of troubled teens. At these groups, you can meet other parents who are going through a similar struggle, and develop your own support network.
Give yourself grace and patience. Always provide your teen and your family with all the support and love you can, but remember that you are not invincible. The most important thing you can do for them is show your love and just be there for them. Take time for yourself. Set aside some time to relieve some stress and take a moment each day to appreciate the blessings in your life. You can always better serve others when you first take care of yourself.