If you are faced with the challenge of getting help for a troubled teen, the temptation is, understandably, to move quickly to find a remedy for the “troubled teen” issues that are overwhelming your child. This sense of urgency is understandable also in light of your fervent belief that, regardless of the nature of your child’s issues, there’s got to be a solution or “cure.” Or you might be telling yourself that surely your child will “snap out of it,” wake up and realize that his or her conflict is self-generated, and thereby be empowered to put an end to the ordeal that’s causing such isolation and pain. It’s also entirely understandable that as a loving parent or guardian, you want to believe that your teen’s issues are not that serious. Perhaps with a bit of guidance from a coach or local counselor, all will be OK.
Yes it’s possible, but it’s also highly unlikely.
For one thing, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to helping a troubled teen. A teen’s troubles can of course run the gamut; they can range from mild moodiness, to entrenched isolation and anger; from a diagnosis of ADHD to one of bi-polar disorder, (manifesting as manic-depression, for instance). While some teen difficulties are “manageable” – and simply require caring guidance on the part of a parent, guardian or counselor — others require full-on therapy and possibly treatment at a special, therapeutically oriented school or residential clinic. It’s important to realize, however, that teens are individuals – so it’s not always simply a case of: the more serious the disorder, the more extensive the treatment. And while behavioral or cognitive treatment options (often in short weekly or bi-weekly therapy sessions) can be helpful, it’s often the case that long-term treatment is the better option.
Treatment, after all, should be understood as a continuum of care (as opposed to a response tactic). Because the nature of a teen’s troubles can vary so widely,it’s understandable that treatment programs will vary too. Also, every stage of the treatment continuum comes with unknowns; even the early stage of treatment – assessment and diagnosis– takes some time to work through. Often a diagnosis is multi-faceted. A neurological condition, like ADHD for instance, can coincide with other conditions and/or disorders – possibly relating to mood, conduct or substance abuse, etc.
Then, as concerns the process treatment itself – this too, is likely to be rather involved and take a number of months (if not longer) to resolve. In some cases, conflicts or disorders aren’t ever fully “resolved,” but rather have to be “managed” on an on-going basis.
Length of treatment is one vector in the continuum – and depth or intensity of treatment is another. This dual perspective on treatment dynamics suggests why the therapeutic boarding school option, for instance, can be especially effective in helping a troubled teen. At such a school, trained clinicians and therapists, as well as teachers with therapeutic training, are in place 24/7 to guide your child toward understanding of his or her condition, and towards improvement, if not ultimate resolution.
A therapeutic boarding school is in fact designed to treat trouble teens’ issues holistically. The staff at such a school take into account that a teen’s troubles don’t happen in a therapist’s office, but in life – and that therefore surrounding a troubled teen with a team of “helpers” in a daily-life context, is likely to be the optimal treatment regimen.
This, moreover, is the value proposition offered by a good therapeutic boarding school: a host of qualified counselors and medically-trained and accredited therapists and teachers working intensively and on a daily basis to guide your child’s toward a re-emergence into healthfulness and productive living.
The path isn’t easy or simple, but rather one of constant adjustment, recalibration and fine-tuning. Remember that the challenges faced by a troubled teen are a typical – in other words,considerably more entrenched and troubling than those faced by most teenagers. It is for this reason that a treatment program geared towards long-term guidance and full-immersion therapy is likely to make all the difference to your troubled teen.