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Residential Treatment

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Residential treatment programs are a place that can provide adolescents with therapy and personal growth, but also the structure of residential care. A residential treatment center is a live-in facility that provides therapy and other resources for people with emotional, mental, or behavioral struggles. For teens with severe issues in these areas, residential treatment may be the best treatment solution. Residential treatment programs combine therapy, psychiatric support, and academics. Clients in these programs gain the insights, tools, and habits they need to maintain lifelong mental, physical and emotional health.

A teen that enters a residential treatment center would leave home to live in the facility for a number of weeks or months until he/she has achieved the healing and growth they need. The teen will live with other residents and participate in a highly structured routine. This structured routine includes scheduled educational, therapeutic, and family or community events each week. Depending on the residential treatment center, residents may receive an education, participate in experiential activities such as hiking or rock climbing, learn to do daily chores and tasks, participate in service activities, and enjoy family weekends. Through these opportunities, residents can develop healthy coping and life management skills. Most residential treatment centers also help residents instill positive values and make changes that are necessary for better quality of life.

Trained, full-time staff work with students throughout their healing journey. Typically the staff is made up of psychiatrists, therapists, recreation therapists, teachers and registered nurses who collaborate to provide individualized care to each student. The staff also works with parents and other family members so they are able to provide support for their loved one in treatment.

Residential treatment may be short-term or long-term:

  • Short-term residential programs are intense but relatively brief treatment programs. This is ideal for clients whose symptoms are less severe. Programs may range from three weeks to a few months. To prevent relapse after treatment has ended, typically clients transition to a day treatment program after leaving the facility.
  • Long-term residential programs are typically six to 12 months long, depending on the client’s needs. These programs help individuals experiencing severe distress learn how to reframe damaging beliefs and thoughts and adopt healthy coping skills and behaviors.

How long an individual needs to be in residential treatment depends on a variety of factors and varies from person to person. After treatment, many residential treatment centers have staff and resources dedicated to making the transition back to home life smoother.

Residential treatment can be a highly effective treatment for severe emotional, cognitive, or behavioral issues. Studies suggest that teens who successfully complete a residential treatment program are less likely to relapse to what led them to treatment in the first place. If you are considering residential treatment for yourself or a loved one, be sure to research a residential treatment facility before enrolling. If possible, tour the facility and meet with clinical staff beforehand so you have an idea of how the treatment center functions and if it is a good fit for your teen.