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Professional Help for Troubled Teens

Professional Help for Troubled Teens

When to Seek Professional Help?

There are times when the efforts of your family alone may not be enough to cope with your teen's problems and a professional help is required. If you are concerned about his or her behavior and your ability to provide help, do not hesitate to seek help from a professional: a doctor, a child psychologist or child behavioral expert.

If you don't know where to start, you can call us 800-845-1413. We have our own team of specialists who can provide help for free.

Take note, the earlier this disorder can be managed, the better. While teen problems may start out as small and harmless, they can get overblown quickly so it is best to deal with it immediately to prevent anything serious from occurring later on.

Professional Counseling for Troubled Teens

Family counseling is a good place to start with a teen who is struggling at home with minor things such as defiance, lying, failing in school, etc. We have found that often times family counseling does not work with teens but occasionally it does. The reason it often does not work is that one or two hours a week and then right back to the same school and friends don't usually produce the needed pull that will dislodge a teen from the negative rut are stuck in. If this is the route that you are inclined to try first please observe a few suggestions from us.

1. Find a psychologist or a counselor who has the same values found in the home. If the dynamics are not the same the therapist could become a catalyst for more problems. We have heard too many horror stories from parents who thought they were doing a good thing by having their teen in counseling only to find out that the counselor was advising their teen to do things the parents did not agree with.

We have found that a certificate of education does not fully qualify one to provide solutions to problems. Interview prospective therapists and make sure their morals and values and in line with yours. Discuss your teen's problems and make sure their solutions will be in harmony with what you want.

2. Once a trusted therapist is found make sure you are sitting in on the sessions with your teen. It doesn't do a bit of good to have the teen go through counseling and the parents not be a part of finding and creating possible solutions. Often times there are adjustments that each individual family member can make to help things to turn around. Be open to change.

3. The therapist should be giving regular assignments for parents and teens. These assignments/goals should be the method of forward movement.

4. Change is very difficult for everyone. If it seems like the process is too easy to be leery. When true change is made mountains are climbed. A good therapist is not necessarily going to be your best friend. He/She will often tell you and your teen things you do not want to hear. Remember change takes lots of time and can be very difficult. Be patient.

Therapeutic Boarding Schools

If you are having difficulties with a defiant or troubled teen, you may need more help than can be provided just at home. It may be hard to hear, but unfortunately, parents can't always provide enough attention, encouragement, and moral support. It may be necessary to seek out external help from therapeutic boarding schools for troubled kids and teens.

Kids and teens with mental, behavioral, and/or emotional issues generally require more effort - from themselves as well as their teachers and their parents in order to ensure they are sufficiently learning their lessons. Regrettably, instructors and teachers within the traditional school system just don't have the time or resources necessary to meet these troubled teens' needs. 

Your teen could be dealing with depression, ADHD, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or an anxiety disorder such as post-traumatic stress or obsessive-compulsive disorder, yet the traditional school system is not set up to deal with these issues. These are some of the most difficult years of your child's life, and sadly they lack the support they need at school and home.

If you believe your child is at risk, or you can see that they are fighting emotional, behavioral and/or mental issues, it may be time to get extra assistance for their needs. Whether your son or daughter has turned to drug abuse, is suffering from depression or an eating disorder, or is struggling with another behavioral issue, a boarding school offers the essential structured, academic program necessary for self-discovery and healing. The good news is, there are many different options for help with troubled teenagers, including Christian therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness programs of varying degrees, summer programs, and much more.

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Residential Treatment

There are many residential treatment centers for troubled teenagers. Being the parent of a troubled teen may be one of the most difficult challenges you will face during your lifetime. Fortunately, we are here to help. We strongly suggest you utilize the information offered here and carefully consider your many choices. By exploring the many proactive options available in residential treatment programs you are taking your teen's future seriously.

Residential treatment facilities are ideally suited to address a broad range of problems facing troubled teens. These centers adapt to a teen's specific requirements to help guide them through their troubles and beyond. These centers tackle a variety of issues such as drug addiction and other chemical dependencies, eating disorders or other behavioral problems. 

Residential treatment centers for teenagers vary from clinical settings with a hospital and staff for teens who need this type of availability and security, to a more relaxed group home atmosphere. Teens who graduate from addiction treatment will often enter a less-structured dormitory community where they can obtain the necessary skills to become competent, successful adults. Residential help for troubled teens may also include individual and group counseling, 12-step programs, vocational education, organized physical activities, neighborhood improvement projects, and opportunities to develop social skills.

There are many differences among residential youth treatment centers. Each treatment program has a unique approach to intervention and rehabilitation philosophies including the methods and programs they employ. Emphasis should be placed on selecting a program that fits the needs of your teen and falls within your own system of beliefs and parenting style. Moving a teen in and out of different treatment centers can be financially costly and jeopardize the stability and progress of your teen. Again, please take advantage of our resources to ensure you find the best possible residential treatment facility for your child.

Education in Residential Treatment

One of the many reasons why many parents are reluctant to enroll their troubled teenagers into treatment programs no matter how dire the need, is because they fear that their child will fall even further behind in his or her education.

However, his parents' fear is not misplaced. According to The National Dropout Prevention Center, teenagers pursuing a high school diploma past the typical high school age range have a higher risk of dropping out and not finishing high school than teenagers within the typical high school age range. Based on their data, an example would be a 16-year-old eighth grader having only 16% chance of completing high school with a diploma, compared to the 89% chance of students within the typical age range.

Furthermore, it is a well-documented fact that student dropouts exact a heavy price to the community. Students who leave high school without earning a diploma are at a high risk of ending up a destitute, becoming welfare dependent, having children at younger ages or at inopportune times, and worse, a life of crime. According to National Dropout Prevention Center, over 65% of incarcerated criminals in the U.S. are high school dropouts, making it the main starters of a life of crime.

Adolescence is a very crucial phase for a child's self-development. To many psychologists, it is a transitional stage whose primary purpose is to prepare children for the adult roles, where three major life goals are determined: breaking away from parents, finding one's life work, and finding a life partner. If a teen gets sidelined from school due to mental, behavioral or substance abuse problems, it will take a heavy toll on his or her later life.

Helping Teens Move Forward

Education is an integral part in any teen intervention system. That is because it is the education, not the treatment, which will save the teen's life. Treatment is also critically important, as it provides the tools needed by troubled teenagers to turn their lives around.

In order to help troubled teenagers get the necessary treatment while also continue their education, several treatment centers are offering, aside from a long term residential program, an academic program for the purpose continuing studies. Some residential centers have a fully accredited curriculum, with academics that are on par or better than that of private schools. 

Some also offer additional preparatory programs, such as college preparatory, CLEP preparatory and testing, as well as distance education program for select colleges. Basically, it is a housing program, usually with transportation included, that is intended for students who are matriculated at nearby local schools and chose to live in a safe and sober environment while doing schoolwork, attending after school programs, or receive treatment and therapy.

A Pathway to Success

According to psychologists, the criteria for a teen's successful recovery are a good education, a desire to change, a parent or someone with authority who provides not only unconditional love but also enforces strict discipline, and a positive environment that is conducive to change.

There are some residential treatment centers that employ proven methods such as cognitive behavior therapy, and this is a method that has consistently produced good results. Residential treatment schools vary greatly in style and execution but generally, they share the common goal of fostering discipline and a sense of worth to the participating teens.

Drug & Alcohol Treatment

Never before has substance abuse and addiction been such a common place in our society. Individuals that struggle with addiction quickly find their lives turned upside down. Everything in life becomes secondary to achieving the high they have become accustomed to. Thankfully, in a time that this disease is spreading throughout the world, we have unprecedented resources and services to help combat addiction and substance abuse. Even the addicts that are the most entrenched in their addictions there is hope. The chains of addiction can be broken. Some of the available resources are:

  • Inpatient detoxification
  • Short Term Residential treatment (after detoxification)
  • Out-patient intensive addiction treatment
  • Addiction Therapists
  • Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous

One of the common mistakes made is people thinking that after rehab or residential treatment they are finished. The reality of the problem is that it takes continued counseling and services. Some people need services for the rest of their lives to combat temptations, cravings, and triggers. Because each person's level of addiction and treatment needs vary tremendously, parents, guardians, and family members need to know which level of care is appropriate for their loved one's current needs.

Psychiatric Treatment

Psychiatric treatment plays an essential role in helping individuals heal and recover from a variety of mental health and emotional needs. Who needs psychiatric treatment? Individuals that have developed unhealthy behavioral or mental patterns which cause dysfunction and suffering are likely dealing with a mental illness that needs immediate attention.

It is important to know that having a mental illness does not always mean a permanent burden so long as professional help is sought out to begin the healing process. Individuals that have been diagnosed with or are displaying traits of the following disorders and illnesses should be sure to include psychiatric care as part of the treatment process:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Depression
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Oppositional Defiance Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Social Disorders
  • Trichotillomania
  • Sexual Disorders

It is important to remember that not all psychiatric disorders or mental illnesses are equal in severity. It is important to know what level of care is needed for each individual based on the level of severity. The following options are available:

  • Hospitalization
  • Intensive Inpatient residential treatment
  • Intensive Out-patient treatment
  • Regular meetings with a psychiatrist
  • Therapeutic Boarding Schools
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Worried That Your Teen Might be on the Wrong Path?

A large part of living a healthy and fulfilling life is learning how to make good decisions. Teens are at the brink of that time in their life when they should be learning how to make right decisions for themselves. When they were young, parents made decisions for their children; from the friends that they hang out with to the way that they dress.

Teens don’t magically acquire the ability to make sound decisions; they learn it. Much like learning how to walk for the first time, mistakes are part of the process. There will be missteps, bumps, and falls, but the challenge for parents is to decide which issues they can get involved in and which one they’ll let their teens handle. Well-meaning parents often times overstep their boundaries and try to make the decisions for their teens.

When parents are worried that their teens are on the wrong path, they must ask themselves whether their teens are in immediate harm or not. Do their choices put them (and other people) in harm’s way? Is intervention needed for their own safety? When parents do not agree with their teen’s choices, they cannot just step in and tell them to change their choices. The only way for teens to sincerely make a change in their life is when they are convinced that it’s what they should do.

How Then Can Parents Help Their Teen Make Better Decisions?

Here are some practical tips:

Always talk to your teen – Have frequent conversations with your teen. Not to lecture them, but to just talk to them, know what’s going on with their life, let them know what’s going on with yours. Teens can learn a lot by the implicit lessons you can impart in casual conversations.

Be a good example – Despite what you may feel, you still exert a lot of influence on your teen’s life. They may not say much, but they drink in everything that they see and take most of it to heart. The first lessons that teens learn about decision-making come from the most influential adults in their life–their parents.

Provide your teen with other options – Teens may sometimes have trouble seeing the big picture. There’s nothing wrong with widening their options and explaining to them that there are other ways to go about things. It’s even better if you help them arrive at other options by asking them questions and giving examples.

Pick your battles – Teens are individuals. They will express themselves differently from their parents, they will make different choices in life. There are things that parents may not like about their teens but are not really important, in the grand scheme of things. For example, the clothes that they pick, the music they listen to, or the color of their hair. There are things that parents shouldn’t make a big deal about and let their teens just work through. Teens are just trying to discover what they like and don’t like. Parents should learn to pick their battles so that they don’t end up arguing with their teens over every little thing.

There are things that parents shouldn’t make a big deal about and let their teens just work through. Teens are just trying to discover what they like and don’t like. Parents should learn to pick their battles so that they don’t end up arguing with their teens over every little thing.

Let them make decisions – As long as teens know their limits, they can work within these limits and have some leeway to explore their freedom. Let your teen make a decision and see for themselves if this works for them or not. If your teen makes a bad decision, allow them to experience the consequences too.

Evaluate the decision with your teen – When teens make a decision that didn’t work out too well, it’s better if parents try to talk to them and help them work through the issue.

For example, if your teen gets an F in a subject because he decided to go to a party over the weekend instead of study for an exam, help your teen understand how he could have handled the situation better. He could have just skipped the party, or he could have chosen to come home earlier, or he could have prepared sufficiently for the exam before the weekend.

Don’t add insult to injury – When teens make bad choices, don’t add insult to injury by saying “I told you so.” Instead of judging your teen, offer support and sympathy.

Praise good decisions – On the other hand, if your teen made a good decision, praise him/her for it. Tell your teen what made that decision a good one so that he/she will learn lessons from a positive experience as well as the negative ones.

Remember that you won’t always be there to make decisions for your teen. He/She must be able to make sound decisions, and the only way that your teen could do that is if they learn decision-making and problem-solving skills early in their life.

What if Your Teen Crossed The Line?

If your teen is making decisions that is putting him/her and other people in danger, it’s time to make drastic decisions. For example, if your teen always breaks curfew and comes home drunk at 3 AM, you can refuse to allow him/her to attend parties.

Refuse to drive them around, remove privileges at home. If your teen has acquired a drug habit, refuse to fund it; don’t give him/her money for allowance. Buy everything that your teen needs, pack lunch for him/her, do what you can to make it hard for your teen to purchase drugs.

If your teen absolutely refuses to submit to your authority and disregards house rules, parents can look into other alternative interventions like therapy and counseling. Yes, it will cause some friction between parents and teens, but oftentimes, parents must make hard decisions in order to get their teens back on the right track.

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My Teen is on Probation and Constantly in Trouble. What Can I Do Before it's too Late?

To most of us parents, the worst thing that can ever happen to our kids is when they get charged with a criminal offense. But a crime is a crime and no matter the outcome, your teen needs to accept the consequences of his deeds. For minors under the statutory age of majority - 18 years old in most countries - the most common sentencing option given by the juvenile court is probation.

The general terms of probation require the teenager's compliance with the conditions set in the court’s disposition order. So if your teen is suspected of violating a probation condition, he runs a risk of having his probation option revoked by the court and possibly be imposed a harsher sentence, such as incarceration at a detention facility.

So how do you keep a teenager who is under probation and yet cannot stay away from trouble? Here are some tips that will help you control your teen.

Impose Rules and Regulations in the House

If a child learns how to follow the rules in the house, he will also learn how to follow rules outside the house. Setting up house rules and regulations is a way of teaching youngsters how to follow public law and respect authority later on. Take note, there should be consequences in case your teen chooses to break the rules. Non-negotiable punishment should be given in case the rules are broken - or your rules will be worthless.

If you are stumped on what kind of rules and regulations you can impose in the house, here are some for starters.

  • Assigning chores, e.g. taking out the trash, washing the dishes, taking out the linen, should be done without complications.
  • Inappropriate language, inappropriate behavior, and inappropriate activities are not allowed in the house. Examples would be no use of profane language, no improper body language and no smoking or drinking of alcohol inside the house
  • Cursing, screaming and verbal abuse, including back talking, eye rolling and improper body language, will be not allowed in the house
  • The room is to be kept clean
  • No loud, disruptive noise or music
  • Respect for personal and public property
  • Respect for personal space

Distance your teen from bad peer relationships

Parents have every reason to worry about their teenagers associate themselves with known thugs and gang members. It has been brought about hundreds of times already that gangs are responsible for a large proportion of all violent offenses in most cities.

As a parent dedicated to your son's welfare, it is natural to be alarmed after finding out that your son is involved in a gang. Take note, teens who may be involved in gang activity usually display multiple instances of the following signs:

  • associated with known gang members
  • makes use of gang speak and signs to communicate with associates
  • fixations on the particular mode of clothing, colors or wear a particular logo on their clothing. Some gang cultures have a preference on a particular clothing style; for example, Burberry and Dr. Martens are frequently worn by some gangs.
  • has bruises and wounds that seem related to fighting
  • shows interest in gang related news, media and activities
  • has more cash or valuables than one might reasonably expect
  • has in possession dangerous implements that could be used to harm others, such as stilettos, ice picks, baseball bats, etc.
  • fearful of arousing police interest

Monitor your teenager's progress in school

Teenagers who do well in school usually do well in all aspects of their lives. It also keeps them busy and away from negative peer associations and keeps them level headed in decision making.

One of the many causes for poor academic performance is misguided kids falling to become at risk. At risk, youth are those who are “at risk” of failing academically, for one or more of any several reasons. According to The National Center for Education Statistics, at risk is usually caused by negative peer pressure, living in an unfavorable environment, changing schools and residence in inopportune times and the emergence of bad habits and lifestyles.

Put your teen in a safe environment

The environment will always be a critical place for success. For this reason, experts always recommend on fostering a positive environment at home where there is lots of love and care, as well as structure and discipline. If you are unsure whether you or your home can commit to this level of care and attention ultimately needed by your kid, try to put him or her in a place where all these requisites for change are met. There are some types of environments that have the best chance of rehabilitating troubled or at risk teenagers, or teenagers with learning related problems. A good example is teen boarding schools.

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Teen Help - The Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse by Teens

Drug abuse is dangerous and could have immediate and long-term consequences on your health as well as other parts of your life. The most common substances that teen abuse these days (after alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana) are over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Get to know these drugs better and find out why these are very bad for you.

Abusing prescription and over the counter, drugs mean using these drugs when they were prescribed for somebody else, or taking them in dosages and through ways that are different from how it was prescribed to be used. It is illegal to use prescriptions that are not yours, and it is also illegal to share your own prescription drugs with other people.

Prescription and OTC Drugs are dangerous – Some people have the misconception that prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs are less dangerous than illicit, street drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and so on. The truth is that prescription and OTC drugs are safe only when used as directed by qualified physicians, and only for the purpose they were intended to be used.

For example, Opioids are pain relievers like Vicodin and OxyContin. When used properly (correct dosage and circumstances), they relieve pain for suffering patients. People who abuse opioids may be in danger of sudden difficulties in breathing which can cause death. They can also cause nausea, constipation, and other symptoms. Abusing anti-depressants can cause seizures, disorientation, slurred speech, difficulties breathing, fatigue, and others.

Abusing cold and cough medications can cause vomiting, nausea, and increased level of blood pressure and heart rate which can cause heart failure. Abusing stimulants (like Adderal and Ritalin) can cause arrhythmia, seizures, high body temperature, and even heart failure. Mixing anti-depressants like Valium and Xanax can slow one’s heartbeat and respiration to a dangerous level, which can even cause death.

Abusing cold and cough medications can cause vomiting, nausea, and increased level of blood pressure and heart rate which can cause heart failure. Abusing stimulants (like Adderal and Ritalin) can cause arrhythmia, seizures, high body temperature, and even heart failure. Mixing anti-depressants like Valium and Xanax can slow one’s heartbeat and respiration to a dangerous level, which can even cause death.

Prescription drugs for medical conditions can cause dependence – Long-term use of certain drugs for medical conditions can cause physical dependence on them. It’s important to note that “physical dependence” is different from “addiction”. The brain and body naturally adapt to chronic drug exposure which means that as time passes by, larger doses may be needed to compensate for the effect of the drugs on one’s tolerance.

There is a link between HIV/AIDS and drug use – According to statistics by the National Institute on Drug Addiction, the likelihood of getting HIV or AIDS increases as teens use drugs, whether it’s prescription/OTC or street drugs. This is possible in different ways. The virus can be passed on by sharing drug paraphernalia, but it’s also because drug abuse causes young people to have the poor judgment that puts them in situations where they can get HIV and other STDs. Teens who abuse drugs display poor judgment and risky behavior, including dangerous, irresponsible sexual practices.

Drugs affect how the brain works – Illicit drugs and improper use of over the counter and prescription drugs hijack the limbic system of people’s brains. This is the part of the brain in charge of “reward” feelings. When this is hijacked, the feelings of pleasure are heightened artificially by releasing a large amount of dopamine. This overflow of dopamine gives people the feeling of being euphoric or “high” while abusing drugs.

The brain’s limbic system and other systems start changing because of this unnatural levels of dopamine. The end result is that without drugs, a person’s brain fails to activate the pleasure centers properly. Without drugs, a person feels sad, joyless, and hopeless. The person who craves the drug then becomes addicted. That is, he starts to crave the drug despite knowing that it causes problems to them. Despite the fact that it’s beginning to cause physical issues, that they’re beginning to steal from and lie to their own families and friends, and other negative effects.

Because drugs change the way the brain works, drug use (which started out as a voluntary behavior) becomes a compulsive behavior. Using drugs for the first time may be a conscious decision and be easily stopped, but eventually (depending on the genetic makeup of the users), the brain tricks the body into really believing that life isn’t worth living without the drugs. The brain makes sure that the person wants to take drugs again the same way that it’s wired to make sure that people repeat certain important activities like eating.

Drug addiction is treatable but in most cases, not curable – Addiction is considered as some form of a disease, and while it is treatable, in many cases it is not curable. Much like people with diabetes learn to make lifestyle, dietary, and medical changes that help them manage their disease, drug addiction can be treated through behavior therapy. Teen drug addiction can lead to a lifetime of struggle because they start out very early. While the addiction may be treated, there will always be that urge, that struggle against wanting that feeling of euphoria again.

Most of the time, teen drug addicts need not just long-term treatment but repeated treatments. There may be relapses along the way, but the important thing is not giving up.

Should one actually want to be treated to make the treatment effective? According to researchers, teens who are pressured into treatments like rehab by their parents or by a court of law can still benefit from the treatment. It doesn’t have to be their idea and they don’t have to seek treatment by themselves in order to make it effective.

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