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Choosing the Right Treatment Option

four teenage girls sitting on floor of living room laughing and talking

When it comes to your loved one’s mental health, you don’t want to take any chances. Taking the time to understand the types of treatment programs available can help you make an informed decision. In addition, understanding the different emotional and behavioral issues that may be affecting your loved one can help you choose the best treatment option. As you educate yourself, you’ll be in a better position to get the care your loved one deserves.

To help you make the best choice for your loved one, here are some steps you can follow:

  • Seek professional advice. The best initial sources of advice regarding treatment are educational consultants and mental health professionals. It’s worth the cost of these services to ensure that you have the objective support, guidance, and advocacy you need to make a sound treatment choice.
  • Assess your loved one’s needs. If he or she will agree, it’s a good idea to have your child undergo a full battery of psycho-educational assessments to gain insight into the nature of his/her struggle. With the support of an educational consultant or mental health professional, this information can help you make a better treatment choice. If your child is not compliant prior to treatment, however, these assessments can also be conducted during treatment. You should check with your educational consultant or mental health professional for his or her recommendation.
  • Talk to other parents and visit the facilities. If you’re looking for a residential treatment program, request to talk with other parents. This is a great way to get insight into the program. Also, visit the facilities of any program you’re considering. Insist on talking with students, staff from every department, and the program director. You should be allowed to tour the entire facility and ask questions freely. It’s smart to come with a list of questions prepared; program visits can be taxing and it’s easy to forget what to ask while you’re touring. It’s also important to listen to your gut when you visit a program; the program you select will be your child’s home for a period of time, and no one knows your child like you do.
  • Create a support system. Not only is picking a treatment program for your loved one stressful, but that level of stress can make a difficult decision even more difficult. It’s important to have the support of friends and family during this time both to soothe your emotions and to help you process information and think through options. This is not the time for isolation or secrecy. This is a time to reach out for support.
  • Check credentials and associations. Whenever you’re choosing a treatment option, it’s important to make sure program and staff credentials and associations are up to par! Here a few things to look for:
    • Program
      • Joint Commission, CARF, COA, NIPSA accreditation
      • State licensure to operate as a treatment facility
      • Academic accreditation from a regional accreditation body such as NAAS, WASC, or AdvancED
      • Membership in a national therapeutic association such as NATSAP or AACRC
    • Staff
      • Master’s level therapists
      • Clinical leadership provided by clinically licensed therapists
      • State-credentialed teachers
      • Special-education credentialed teachers on staff if your child has learning differences
      • 24-hour on-call medical staff (preferably RN, Nurse Practitioner, or physician)
      • Psychiatrist on staff or affiliated
      • Wilderness First Responder certification for wilderness program staff
      • First-Aid and CPR certified staff