Although your teenager has made a lot of progress in a residential program and has demonstrated readiness for the next step, transitioning from residential treatment is a process that often involves stepping down to continue to offer emotional support. Leaving residential treatment can be a culture shock, even if your child has gone on home visits before graduation. They may have taken advantage of all the resources their residential treatment center has to offer and grown comfortable in a therapeutic environment, but no longer need that level of care.
Fears about Stepping Down
However, many residents are scared to leave and experience the same emotional triggers that led to their admission in the first place. While they may be confident about skills that they have learned, it is harder to continue to apply them when faced with challenges in a less sheltered environment. As a parent, it is normal to question how much your relationship has changed with some distance and if you will be able to manage conflict as effectively if they move home.
Tim Thayne published a survival guide for parents about boosting their teen’s success in and after treatment called “Not by Chance,” that identifies common fears parents have about initiating a step down: Has this worked? Was it necessary? Will they forgive me? Can we handle their at home?”
Challenges Faced at Home
While they may be excited about returning to their home and school environment, but it is hard to remember that they are no longer the same person when they return to the same “people, places, and playgrounds” where they struggled before. While your relationship with your child has improved, moving back home may bring up memories of how your relationship used to be. When your child leaves an environment where they’ve constantly been surrounded by peers, mentors, and therapists, they may feel like they’ve entered a social vacuum and struggle with feeling isolated or not knowing who to reach out to if they’ve lost touch with old friends. While their transition may involve a village, it can be hard to trust that your child has the skills they needs and to give their space to navigate the transition. She may struggle at first, but this is natural.
Supporting a Smoother Transition
There are three primary factors that will increase the likelihood of positive, long-term success following discharge from residential treatment for teenagers, including
- Parenting involvement in the treatment process
- Stability and structure of the discharge environment
- Utilization of aftercare support after discharge
Transition programs offer a small therapeutic setting in a home-like environment where teenagers are given more freedom to apply the skills they’ve learned in a less structured environment. Journey Home is a good option for residents who want more independence from their families but need additional emotional support to make their step down more successful.
Stepping Down and Out into the Community
Independent Living Skills including meal preparation, cleanliness, budgeting, time management.
Academic Support. Residents can attend a local high school, work remotely on a GED, attend community college, or enroll in online courses.
Community Engagement through community service and employment. Journey Home helps residents through the selection and interview process.
Individual therapy continuing themes from residential treatment, with a greater focus on goal-setting, future orientation and healthy relationships.
Mentorship. House parents act as personal role models and help monitor progress on goals. Mentors organize group activities in the community and encourage residents to develop hobbies and talents at home.
Group Therapy twice a week including Processing and Healthy Lifestyles groups that is less intensive than residential groups. Living in a home environment fosters close connections and accountability.
Journey Home is a transitional living program for girls and assigned female at birth ages 16-21 that have graduated from a residential treatment center or wilderness therapy. We are the perfect fit for teens who are ready to build upon skills learned in therapeutic settings but recognize they still need guidance and support to further develop their success. Journey Home blends a traditional home setting with positive peer and staff relationships. We believe in the value of good health and healthy hobbies in promoting future success.