Identifying the warning signs that a teen may need more intense treatment than counseling and outpatient therapy can be difficult for parents to recognize. It’s normal for parents to view moodiness and rebelliousness as just typical teen behavior. But when should “typical” adolescent behavior indicate the presence of serious mental health conditions that require the help of residential treatment programs?
The choice between outpatient treatment and residential treatment centers (RTCs) for youths comes down to living arrangements and the intensity of care. Outpatient therapy allows teens to remain at home while receiving therapy, whereas residential treatment has the teen staying at the treatment center 24/7 until they have completed the program. Other differences parents should be aware of include:
If your teen’s behavioral problems are intensifying despite the fact they are attending outpatient teen counseling, it may be a sign that the current level or type of care is inadequate or incorrect. Increasing defiance, aggression, substance abuse, involvement with the law, and suicidal ideation are warning signs that the teen requires intensive therapy in the closely monitored environment provided by residential treatment centers.
Teens who attempt suicide, cut themselves, or engage in violent or risky behaviors should be considered an emergency situation by parents that demands immediate action. Getting teens with these problems into a residential treatment center as soon as possible is strongly recommended to prevent them from harming themselves or others.
Teens who unsuccessfully struggle with managing daily activities such as attending school and taking care of themselves while exhibiting abrupt changes to their personality and speech patterns may be showing early signs of a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or a schizo-affective disorder.
Any kind of rapid and drastic change in a teen’s physical appearance, whether that change is visible weight gain or loss, noticeably thinning hair/hair loss, or the development of sores or lesions on their skin could indicate the presence of an eating disorder, drug addiction, or both.
Since most teens do not verbally tell their parents they are feeling depressed, parents should look for the following warning signs that indicate their child may be suffering from major depression, anxiety, and possibly suicidal thoughts:
Intensive teen therapy provided by RTCs is administered within a structured and therapeutic environment specially designed to address a variety of adolescent mental health, emotional, and behavioral issues. If your teen shows warning signs that they need more than traditional therapy, consider the following advantages to placing them in residential treatment.
Deciding that residential therapy would be the best choice for a teen with ongoing and serious mental health conditions is a momentous decision for parents who have tried everything to help their child. An initial discussion with mental health specialists who will evaluate your teen’s most critical needs can help parents feel more confident about their decision.
Keep this vital comparison at your fingertips — Save or bookmark this infographic to reference when exploring treatment options for your at-risk youth. Outpatient vs. inpatient reference. RTC or traditional therapy?
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