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Choosing a Community Teen Treatment Program After Residential Treatment

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Upon completion of a residential treatment program, young adults may wonder what comes next? For some students, preparing to return home can be exciting and they feel fully prepared. For others, the idea of returning home to old triggers and patterns may feel overwhelming. For these young adults, leaving the structured environment of a residential treatment program and going straight back to home may not be the best course of action. In these situations, there can be a great benefit to enrolling in a community tee treatment program after completing residential treatment.

After attending a residential program, many teens benefit from continued therapeutic structure, but don’t need the same level of care they may have had in a wilderness therapy program or a residential treatment center. While residential programs help people learn how to regulate their emotions and identify goals that they want to work towards, transition programs offer guidance as they apply these skills in reaching their goals. There are a variety of community treatment options available after a residential program that ensure that young adults have the support they need to become more independent.

Aftercare Options Following Residential Treatment

Intensive outpatient therapy is recommended for many people as step-down treatment from a residential program. The daily schedule of an intensive outpatient program is often similar to that of a residential program, except that individuals leave at the end of the day. This intensive therapy provides structure and guidelines that can help keep teens on the right track continuing to work on their new healthy life skills. 

Individual therapy is less intensive than it would be in a residential program, with weekly sessions more focused on setting goals and processing challenges. Continuing a relationship with a primary therapist is often central to maintaining the progress that young adults have made in a residential program. Individual therapy can take place in person, or through virtual meetings.  

Support groups in the community, like 12-step meetings or SMART Recovery Groups, are a great opportunity for teens to meet other people in recovery outside of a treatment center. While some support groups offer their own therapeutic recommendations, others are an informal way to socialize with others who have varying amounts of time in recovery. Support groups often focus on “welcoming the newcomer,” but they can also be a great way to pass on insight gained from residential treatment and help hold people accountable when they are in a program with less structure.

Questions to Consider

Research indicates that there are three primary factors that increase the likelihood of positive long-term success following discharge from residential treatment, including parental involvement in the treatment process, the stability and structure of the discharge environment, and the utilization of support following the aftercare program. While many transition programs have similar structures, a transition program designed for older teens may be a better developmental fit for your child leaving residential treatment than one for young adults. If you are looking for a teen transition program for your daughter, these are a few questions to consider:

How large is the program? 

Journey Home combines the warmth and comfort of a traditional home setting with the continued guiding hand of staff. This means that our residents live in a home setting on a quiet cul-de-sac with limited number of other teens who are also coming out of treatment programs. By keeping the program small, we are able to nurture a close-knit community with smaller therapist caseloads, better staff-to-student ratios, and more individualized attention. In larger transition programs, it can be difficult for students to develop close relationships and feel like part of a team.

What age group does the program work with? 

Journey Home works exclusively with teens ages 16-21. This teen transition program is unique in that it acknowledges emerging adulthood is an earlier stage than young adulthood that requires additional support. With this age group, we are able to provide more college counseling, family therapy, and job skills that older young adults may not require. It also protects older teens from socializing with more mature adults that have gone through different experiences than they have.

Will they receive therapy at the program? 

Many young adult transition programs help connect residents to therapists and support groups in the community rather than having professional therapists on staff. Instead, they might work with a case manager who may help them with logistical support but is not qualified for the level of therapy they may have received in residential treatment. Residents at Journey Home work with therapists in-house who are trained in a variety of modalities, including trauma-focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Moral Reconation Therapy, EMDR, and attachment-based therapies. Parent coaching is also offered on an as-needed-basis, intended to be less intensive than previous family therapy you may have attended.

Will my child have access to technology? 

Students earn the privilege of using personal devices, like their cell phone or a laptop, in the first few weeks of the program. They are given the autonomy to use social media within reasonable limits and are encouraged to set personal limits and socialize offline as well. Staff does not supervise technology use but may impose time restrictions on personal devices if students are using the Internet inappropriately or are not engaged with peers.

Will they be able to go to school or work part-time? 

During the day, students go to school at a local public high school, college or university. Many students who have graduated high school or who have planned to take time off of school have elected to take a few core classes at the community college to stay on track. They also have the opportunity to obtain a part time job in the community and work regularly. Our teen transition program has built relationships with several businesses and non-profits in the community where our students have worked or volunteered in the past. During the evenings, there is a more traditional “home life” guided by Journey Home staff who are helping students gain vital life skills.

Holistic Approach in Transitional Living Programs

Transitional living programs combine the benefits of outpatient therapy, intensive outpatient, and support groups for young adults who have already gone through intensive therapy. The goal of transitional living programs is giving young adults space to explore, a place to check back in, and guidance as they try to maintain the changes that they’ve made in their lives. Holistic programs take into account all of an individual’s needs before developing a treatment plan and aim to work on their lifestyle habits, emotional wellbeing, and healthy relationships more so than acute clinical diagnoses.

Transitional living programs may offer more supervision than a traditional outpatient model, but their daily schedule is often more informal than outpatient group therapy or support groups. Residents may continue to have individual therapy sessions with our licensed therapists, but they may feel more like check-ins than life updates, as therapists socialize with them between sessions. The role of staff in a transitional program is to offer mentorship, rather than to enforce rules, as they would in a residential program or an adult “halfway house.” Young adults are encouraged to attend support groups in the community, as well as weekly processing groups at the house, but following a 12-step program or equivalent is not required, like it might be in a halfway house or sober living house. 

Journey Home house parents are assigned to residents to act as their individual “guide” during their stay at the Journey Home. A guide acts as a personal role model and support for the individual student. Students meet with their guide at least every two weeks to review progress on goals in the five core areas. Guides offer support and direction on how to accomplish their goals, assist them in their studies, homework and skill development. If residents need help in writing a resume, completing school assignments, practicing job interview skills, or any other need, their guide is there to support them.

Transition programs often recommend complementary therapies such as mindfulness, yoga, creative expression, and other recreation activities, as they are geared towards helping teens discover their passions that will keep them motivated as they transition into independence. Unlike many other transition programs, residents at the Journey Home participate in weekly therapy, alternating between family and individual sessions. During the week, residents also attend two group therapy sessions, led by the Journey Home therapist. These groups are a therapeutic processing group that supports healthy lifestyles. 

Journey Home Helps Young Adults

Perhaps the client needs more structure than home provides to ensure ongoing success. Or, perhaps the young adult needs more focus on independent living skills or learning important life skills we call Core Principles to prepare them for the next step in their lives. Journey Home can be just the right fit for many girls and assigned female at birth in this situation.

Journey Home residents live in a small community-based home. During the day residents leave for school or a local job while back at the home at night we’ll have a more traditional “home life” guided by Journey Home staff who are helping residents gain vital life skills. For more information please call (385) 304-3603.