Levels of Intervention for Troubled Teens

Dealing with an angry, rebellious teen can sometimes leave you feeling hopeless and desperate. However, it can be helpful to recognize that your intervention has stages. If you are able to help your teen at the first stages, then you need not explore more drastic, stringent measures.

Here are some of the levels of intervention that parents of troubled teens can explore:

– Heart to heart talk. It is normal for a teen to try to test the boundaries of your home’s rules and disciplines. It is also normal that a teen will start to assert his independence. During this time, the lines of communication may start breaking down, as your efforts to lay down the law are met with resistance and rebellion. As a parent, you can try to reestablish these communication lines by sitting down with your child to have a serious talk, in your effort to understand where he is coming from and why he is acting the way he is. Let your child know that you are ultimately for him (that you are after what is best for him).

– Evaluation and counseling. There may be indications that your child needs professional help, especially when the situation demonstrates that your efforts to get through to your child has proven ineffective. It can start with your child’s guidance counselor. You may also consider getting a psychologist that specializes in troubled teens. The psychologist should be able to help evaluate the problems you child has, as well as its root causes. A psychologist can get through your child in ways that you cannot. In most cases, a teen will shut out the people closest to him but may be open to talk to an objective third party.

– Therapy. Once the therapist has evaluated your teen, he may recommend that the teen undergo therapy. These can be one-on-one or group sessions, as well as psychotherapy. However, your teen should be willing to cooperate with the counseling and the therapy sessions. Your teen and the counselor need to work together. Check to see whether the sessions end up antagonizing your teen and further alienating him against you. If there are issues with substance abuse, you can also consider enrolling your child in support groups that help deal with substance abuse.

– Troubled teen program. When the above interventions don’t seem to help, you can think about enrolling your child in a troubled teen residential program. You can start with a short-term program such as a teen wilderness camp or a more long-term program such as a troubled teen boarding school. This may be the change of environment that your child needs. The troubled teen program will force your teen out of his comfort zone and challenge him towards self-discovery. The program should have a number of treatment modalities and activities geared towards helping the teen realize that there are consequences for his actions and choices and that these consequences affect not just him but those around him. Hopefully, the program should guide your child to want to change for the better. When you enroll your child in a program, be sure to also look into how you can provide aftercare, that is, providing the support your child needs after his stay in a teen wilderness camp or boarding school.

– The juvenile justice system. If your teen persists on a self-destructive path that may involve substance abuse and crime, even after your more drastic measures, you may have to let your teen face the consequences of his choices. An arrest may be a harsh wake-up call, but it may be what your teen may need. As parents, you can only do so much to protect your child from his choices. First offences will usually garner a more lenient punishment (i.e. a shorter sentence), which may serve to get through to your teen.

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