Last time on License to Parent, we began looking at when you move from dealing with a troubled teen at home to needing help outside the home, to when to seek a full-fledged Christ-centered residential program. Mom and Dad are overwhelmed by the time a child is a candidate for a place like Shepherd’s Hill Academy, and it’s not going to be fixed with an hour a week in a therapeutic office.
Join us as we continue this discussion, and also how one starts the ball rolling on getting into a residential program, what to expect, and what changes may be needed beyond fixing your teen.
What Does a Residential Program Look Like, and How to Enroll Your Teen
If you missed last week’s episode, part I of this conversation, I would encourage you to listen to it. You can find it on www.licensetoparent.org, or by clicking the link, above.
When you’re close to a situation, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. This can make it difficult for parents to identify how bad things have escalated with their teen, and at what point that teen is needing residential care. In situations like this, it can help to get an outsider’s perspective. Talking to family, a pastor, or seeing a licensed therapist can help those parents gain more\
Most residential care programs, like Shepherd’s Hill Academy, have a family’s best interest at heart. Some families may not be a good fit for what we can offer, and there have been times where we’ve told a family just that. Be aware, however, that there are therapeutic programs who might not have a family’s best interest at heart, and take in any child who come their way, even if they’re not a good fit. These places are running their therapeutic programs strictly as a business. There is always, of course, a component of business management in any non-profit organization, but at Shepherd’s Hill Academy, we choose not to sacrifice our integrity for the bottom dollar. When seeking out a residential program, it’s imperative for parents to interview the program administration, kids in the program – if the program allows it, and other parents whose children are currently enrolled.
The enrollment process can be an emotional time. Family members, friends, and maybe even fellow church members may make parents feel guilty for sending their son or daughter to a residential program. However, unless you live with a troubled teen, it can be difficult to fully understand the presenting issues. We at Shepherd’s Hill want family to be involved and to see what we’re doing. For this very reason, we have a parent conference twice a year so that families can come out and experience what we’re doing first-hand.
Another hurdle that families may encounter is finding negative online feedback about a program. Every program has some amount of negative feedback, because none of them can be 100% successful. Often times, troubled teens who were not successful in residential care will go online to write negative feedback about their given program. In reading these reviews, parents need to use caution and discretion. This, again, points back to the importance of interviewing the program and parents of current enrollees.
Something that is often overlooked when talking about residential programs is how the parents can be involved. At Shepherd’s Hill Academy, we have a policy that teens can not call home for the first couple of months. Most programs have a similar policy. After those two months have passed, we begin sending a weekly parent report. We also begin allowing Skype calls, family weekends, and even a monthly parent workshop. In these workshops, parents come to learn important information about raising teens in this modern world.
As important as parental involvement at Shepherd’s Hill may be, there is still a component of making changes within the home in preparation for their child’s return. Each child is different, and so we prepare plans that are tailored for their individual families. These plans discuss changes that will best facilitate that teen’s successful homecoming. The degree of willingness for a family to implement such changes often determines how successful a teen will be after returning home.
- This is part 2. If you missed the first episode, click here.
- What can I do if long term residential is not a fit for my family.
- Reach out to parents who have been through this journey before.
- What steps can I take to determine if SHA is a good fit for my family.
- How do I make sense of the negative feedback that is online concerning the therapeutic boarding school.
- Once enrolled, how can our family prepare for our child’s return?
Photo by: Maj. Michelle Lunato, via U.S. Army Reserve