It’s the most commonly asked question by parents, what happens after their teenager graduates a behavioral therapeutic boarding school? What is the home plan after residential treatment?
It is completely normal for parents to be apprehensive about their teen coming home, however this journey has involved the entire family. During this time there has been trial runs with home visits, family therapy, a transitional home plan that has been prepared and discussed many times for everyone to fully understand. Another words, you are not alone in this process.
5 Core Components to Home Aftercare Treatment Plan
Keep in mind, this experience from the very start has had peaks and valleys, and it is likely aftercare will have some bumps too. Most schools for troubled teens equip you with an aftercare transitional plan as well as follow-up care. You will have the tools to handle these rocky spots and come out stronger.
1. Family engagement. It is imperative that family involvement does not stop because the program ended. Set-up a routine to regularly check-in with each other, such as breakfast, dinner or driving your teen to school or their activities. Stay interested and involved in their daily lives and especially their digital ones. Remember, short chats can build strong relationships.
2. Therapeutic support. Before your teen leaves treatment, have a therapeutic support plan in place that is part of coming home. This can include a therapist, school counselor and if your child requires ongoing medication, possibly a psychiatrist. The first appointments should be arranged for when they get home. You may also want to consider a mentor or teen coach.
3. Back to school. Another particularly important part of the transitional plan is to determine your teen’s educational path. Will they go back to their same school or switch schools (if so, have you enrolled him/her already) or have you signed them up for virtual schooling? (Do not panic, these are all issues that are thoroughly discussed in your transitional home plan with the program therapist and educational staff that know your child’s needs) prior leaving the therapeutic boarding school.
4. Consistent structure. Helping your teen maintain a balanced and consistent daily schedule with their daily life — such as school and their activities is imperative. This includes sleep patterns, recreational hobbies (sports, dance, etc.), exercise, limited screen-time, jobs, social life, and other areas in life, will lead them to a healthier lifestyle at home.
5. Relapse plan. No one is perfect, there will be bumps, but the positive side is the likely will not be as bad as it was before. Your teen has learned coping skills, it is likely they will be angrier at themselves for slipping up. Be prepared by having your boundaries and consequences outlined in your home plan. If drugs or alcohol were involved prior your teen’s treatment, create a plan to avoid the people, places and moods that accompany the substance use.
Bonus tip: Most of these teens entered treatment with the love of their cellphone or video gaming. During the transitional plan, it is time to create your technology agreement for the entire family.
This time from start to finish has affected the entire family, it can be hard, frustrating and there will be ups and downs, however it is an opportunity to reset some things that weren’t working in your family life — and start the road to healing to a healthy family.