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Residential Treatment

The treatment facilities on this site are perhaps not what you are envisioning  -- they are not all locked facilities nor sterile institutions -they can be home like settings or ranch/farm settings. There are many different levels of residential treatment for adolescents.  (Please see "Questions to guide parents" blog, for deeper investigation into RTCs.)

This website does not try to distinguish between therapeutic boarding school (TBS) and residential treatment centers (RTC). The reason for this is that state governments license schools and programs differently and the labels do not mirror between states; some states do not license adolescent therapeutic programs (read more here). When you are investigating options, you want to compare the facts from this website and then investigate  the nuance of a program and the level of care for the developmental level of your child and his/her psychological urgency, and the five areas below:

  1. Family: How will your family participate in the process? How are family visits done? How long does your child need away from the family system or home setting?
  2. Psychiatry: Does your child need a psychiatrist on staff or just part of the treatment team and collaborating with the program?
  3. Activities/Recreation/Milieu: When or does your child leave the campus?  What level of supervision in the unsupervised community does your teen need?  What sorts of socializing are valuable at this point?
  4. Education: Does your child need a program that has an integrated education and treatment program? Does your child need need to focus on academic credit recovery?
  5. Therapy / Group Therapy: Is there group therapy and/or individual? Does your child need more of one than the other? Does your child have the capacity for insight driven therapy or does he need experiential or (peer-supported) group models of therapy?

Making the decision to send your teen to any residential program is one of the hardest decisions a parent or guardian can make.  It is strongly encouraged that at least one family member have a formal tour of the program before deciding on a treatment facility. The main reason is while the teen is in treatment there will be positive and negative events; prior to these, you need to visit with the administrators, staff, and students and decide if you can trust the program and process.  If your family does not trust the program and the people, it will derail the process.  Another reason to visit is to gain a “feel” for the program that no website can give you.  And finally, be certain to have the “team” or professional who is working with your teen be part of the assessment of a program.


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