Choosing the Right Program for Your Troubled Teen

Parenting a troubled teen can be a difficult road to walk and it is equally difficult when you realize that you may need outside help.  “Do I need to enroll my son into a program for troubled teens?” “If we need help, where should we go?”  “How do we know we are making the right choice?”  These are all questions that go through any parents’ minds who are struggling with how to best help their troubled teen.

There are multiple facilities across the United States that offer a variety of programs developed for teenagers that struggle with addictions, behavioral issues, or juvenile records. The first step in helping your son is finding a program that makes you, as a parent, comfortable.

First, you should identify the type of behavior you want to help your son overcome. The following questions are good to ask yourself when considering a program:

  • Does my teen have a drug addiction
  • Does my teen get in trouble at school a lot?
  • Do I feel like he is endangering himself or others with his behaviors?
  • Does my teen have a juvenile record?
  • Is he defiant and/or running away from home?

Then, you should ask what kind of facility you want your son to attend? There are two types of programs for troubled teens in the U.S.: outpatient programs and residential programs. Outpatient programs focus on in-home treatment of your teen’s delinquent behaviors and attempts to rehabilitate your teen without taking him outside of his home environment. Residential programs, such as Ozarks Teen Challenge, are programs where your teen goes to live for an extended period of time and goes through several stages of positive development before being released back home.  

Deciding between these two types can be difficult.  If outpatient treatment has failed, residential may be the next step.  Important questions to ask are:  “Will my son best recover in his current environment?” If your answer is “yes,” then outpatient may be your best option. “Does my son need to be separated from his peer group, old haunts and negative patterns for a longer period of time to give him a better shot at lasting change?”  If the answer is “yes,” then residential may be your best course of action.  

The next step is to find a facility that is the type you want (outpatient or residential) that will best meet your son’s needs.  Quality programs will provide you with detailed information on their website, as well as, through their admissions staff to aid you in this decision making process.  

It is also important to find a program that will be as transparent as possible with you from the start. Many reputable facilities will provide references from past families and allow you to talk with a parent or teen that have gone through the program previously. Also, tour the facility you will be sending your son to. Knowing you can trust the environment to be safe and structured is an important step in finding a place for your son to grow.

Know exactly how the facility’s program works. How many months will you be away from your child? It is important to make sure you are prepared for this transition. For example, Ozarks Teen Challenge is a 15-month program that takes your son through five phases and involves the family through each step in structured ways. They also understand the science of addiction and have proven methods to help your child recover.

The final step in choosing a program for your troubled teen, is implementing the plan. This may be the hardest part for a parent because knowing you need help and actually taking those steps is difficult. No one wants to admit that they need outpatient help or that residential treatment is needed. It’s important to remember that your son’s safety and well being is the ultimate factor. The end goal is to help your teen be the person you know they can become and you need to choose what is best for them.  Ultimately, you need to choose a program that you feel comfortable and safe enrolling in.

Ozarks Teen Challenge believes that we can help you with that goal, and we hope that you give us a call when you are ready to help your son move forward to find freedom and hope through Christ. Whether your needs require residential treatment with us or to just discuss different options for your family, we want to be a resource for you.