Tips for navigating mental health services
WHAT IS A MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGE?
A mental health disorder is a health condition that changes how a person thinks, feels or acts and causes difficulty in the way he or she lives their life. Signs and symptoms range from mild to severe.
WHEN SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED?
When these symptoms last more than 2 weeks and interfere with daily life, it is important to seek professional help.
COMMON MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS
Learn more about each of these disorders on MHMYouth.org
(1) attention deficit type, (2) hyperactive type, and (3) impulsive type
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR UNDERSTANDING MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES...
- Erika's Lighthouse... We educate school communities about teen depression, eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness and empower teens to take charge of their mental health.
Recommended Reads >
Understanding depression >
Treat depression >
Cope with depression >
Help someone with depression >
Teen Depression test >
- Go Ask Alice
Site is supported by a team of Columbia University health promotion specialists, health care providers, and other health professionals, along with a staff of information and research specialists and writers. Our team members have advanced degrees in public health, health education, medicine, counseling, and a number of other relevant fields.
- Love is Respect
Highly-trained advocates offer support, information and advocacy to young people who have questions or concerns about their dating relationships. Free and confidential phone, live chat and texting services are available 24/7/365.
- Active Minds
Family Communication Tips
- American Psychiatric Association Foundation
Information, including symptoms and treatment
Find a Psychiatrist
- American Psychological Association
Articles on health and emotional wellness
Find a Psychologist
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI
Information and support
- National Council for Behavioral Health
Articles on mental health
- National Institute of Mental Health
Mental Health Information
- Mental Health America
Mental Health Screening Tools
Treatment and Support
How to Talk about Mental Health
What to Look For
The most comprehensive online educational platform on mental health, substance use, and suicide prevention topics in the world
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative
Resources for Veterans and Military Families
- World Health Organization
International Mental Health Information
YOUTHWELL HANDOUTS FOR PARENTS
- PRINT: Communication & Active listening tips
- PRINT: Share Feelings • Choose an emotion
- PRINT: Overview of how food affects our moods
- PRINT: Strategies & Tips for implementing digitally responsible boundaries
YOUTHWELL WORKSHOP RECORDINGS
- View past videos from YouthWell workshops
ARTICLES & BOOKS
- Find a list of articles and books to help you better navigate mental health and more.
Mental Health Screening Tools...
Find Mental Health Screening Tools on the Mental Health America website.
Online screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. This is a tool and not a diagnostic instrument so you will still want to follow up with a doctor.
- The Depression Test is for individuals who are feeling overwhelming sadness.
- The Eating Disorder Test can help explore eating related concerns that have an impact on your physical health and overall well-being.
- The Anxiety Test is for people who feel that worry and fear are affecting their ability to function day-to-day.
- The Addiction Test (Alcohol and substance use test) will help determine if your use of alcohol or drugs is an area to address.
- The Bipolar Test is for individuals who have mood swings - or unusual or extreme shifts in mood and energy.
- The Youth Test is for young people (age 11-17) who are concerned that their emotions, attention, or behaviors might be signs of a problem.
- The PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) Test is for those who are bothered by a traumatic life event.
- The Parent Test is for parents of young people to determine if their child’s emotions, attention, or behaviors might be signs of a problem.
- The Psychosis Test is for young people (age 12-35) who feel like their brain is playing tricks on them (seeing, hearing or believing things that don't seem real or quite right).
- The Work Health Survey is a screen to explore how healthy or unhealthy your work environment is. It is in testing phase and every screen taken helps us better understand mental health in the workplace.
Creating a safety plan for your child...
Identifying their support system ahead of time when they are thinking clearly can help guide them when they are in crisis.
13 Reasons Why Toolkit...
- VIEW TOOLKITS for parents, youth, educators, clinicians
- SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) brought together a group of 75 leading experts in mental health, suicide prevention and education as well as healthcare professionals. This group developed a toolkit providing practical guidance and reliable resources for parents, educators, clinicians, youth and media (suicide, school violence, sexual assault, bullying, substance abuse, getting help, how to take care of yourself, etc.).
Talking to your child...
- Helping parents support their teenagers through everyday issues and tough times.
- ReachOut Schools uses evidence-based resources and innovative technology to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people. We help school staff and parents to better understand and support young people to take control of their mental health and wellbeing.
Benefits of support groups...
- Connect with others that share a common experience.
- Feel less lonely or isolated.
- Feel less shame and judgment.
- Reduce depression, anxiety, or fatigue
- Opportunity to talk openly and honestly about your feelings and experience.
- Learn new tools and skills to cope with the challenges.
- Stay motivated to manage treatment plans or processes.
- Feel empowered to overcome and manage the issue.
- Feel a sense of hope.
- Improve your understanding which helps manage your expectations.
- Receive practical and helpful feedback.
- Can provide emotional support. Support groups do not replace therapy.
Structure of support groups...
- In-person or online
- Peer support or Moderated by a facilitator
- Open group or Closed group
Questions to consider when joining...
- Is there a facilitator or moderator?
Has the facilitator undergone training?
Is a mental health expert involved with the group?
- What are the guidelines for confidentiality?
Are there established ground rules for group participation?
- Is this an ongoing drop-in group or does it run for a set period of time?
What days/times does it meet?
- What is the makeup of other members of the group?
- Is there a fee to attend the group?
What is a typical meeting like?
Is it free, and if not, what are the fees?
Things to consider when choosing a therapist
It is most affordable to find a therapist or treatment provider that is covered by your insurance plan. It can be helpful to first check with your insurance and request their list of "covered" providers. Often, you might find an individual who better fits your needs that is considered "out of network". There are also therapists that do not take insurance but will provide you with a "super-bill" that you can submit to your insurance.
It is recommended to really make sure that the therapist you use specializes in the needs of your child and family. It is not one size fits all. Ask around for referrals and take the time to do a consultation with a few therapists to find the right fit.
Consider the following…
- Do they accept insurance?
- Is your therapist licensed? If you are seeing an intern, do they have a supervisor they meet with on a regular basis?
- What’s the therapist’s philosophy and approach to counseling?
- Do you feel safe and comfortable?
- Is it easy to make conversation?
- Is the therapist easy to relate to or does they feel emotionally removed?
- Can the therapist define how they can help you to solve your issue and give you a clear overview of the process and time frame?
- Can your therapist accept feedback and admit when they make a mistake?
- Does the therapist encourage independence by helping you to identify and find your own solutions?
- Does the therapist have experience and training for the specific issue you are addressing?
- Does the therapist provide homework or reading between sessions?
- Will the therapist see more than 1 family member?
- Will the therapist coordinate with other treatment providers if necessary?
- Is the therapist available between sessions if there is an urgent issue?
Differences between a therapist, coach, or counselor
These roles can get confusing… therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, and coaching.
- The process of meeting with a therapist to resolve problematic behaviors, beliefs, feelings, relationship issues. Therapeutic services offer the client support and skills to deal with psychological pain, to gain insight into their behaviors, while learning new strategies to cope with depression, anxiety, hyperactivity and unwanted behaviors.
- Typically therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or in relationships [ie: parenting, marriage]. The focus is on resolving issues arising from the past that are affecting an individual’s emotional functioning and learning to manage the present in a healthier way.
- OT is a form of therapy for those recuperating from physical or mental illness that encourages rehabilitation through the performance of activities required in daily life.
COUNSELING & COACHING
- Coaches meet with clients to discuss needs and goals. They help clients work on future goals including careers, jobs, schools, academic remediation, strategies for wrap-around programming, etc.
- LIFE COACH: Professional coaching focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change. Coaching is future focused and supports growth based on self-initiated change utilizing action, accountability, and follow-through.
- FAMILY COACH: This is often an intensive service that focuses on reducing unmanageable behaviors that are currently impacting the teen’s functioning at home or school. The coach helps the teen learn new ways of reducing and managing behaviors and increase positive behaviors and coping skills. Parents are taught how to effectively manage the behaviors and support their teen. Meetings typically take place in the home so the coach can see the teen in their natural environment where the challenging behaviors usually occur. Coaches provide modeling, structure, support and behavioral interventions based on the teen and family’s abilities, interests, and strengths. This can be a great transition tool when teens who have been in a residential program are transitioning back home.
Understanding the different licenses
- LMFT, MFCC, LMFC ~ Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
The practice of marriage and family therapy is service performed with individuals, couples, or groups wherein interpersonal relationships are examined for the purpose of achieving more adequate, satisfying, and productive marriage and family adjustments.
- LCSW ~ Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Defined as a service in which a special knowledge of social resources, human capabilities, and the part that unconscious motivation plays in determining behavior, is directed at helping people to achieve more adequate, satisfying, and productive social adjustments.
- LPCC ~ Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
Professional clinical counseling means the application of counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques to identify and remediate cognitive, mental, and emotional issues, including personal growth, adjustment to disability, crisis intervention, and psychosocial and environmental problems, and the use, application, and integration of the coursework and training. Includes conducting assessments for the purpose of establishing counseling goals and objectives to empower individuals to deal adequately with life situations, reduce stress, experience growth, change behavior, and make well-informed, rational decisions.
- LEP ~ Licensed Educational Psychologist
Performance of any of the following functions pertaining to academic learning processes or the education system: (a) Educational evaluation. (b) Diagnosis of psychological disorders related to academic learning processes. (c) Administration of diagnostic tests related to academic learning processes including tests of academic ability, learning patterns, achievement, motivation, and personality factors. (d) Interpretation of diagnostic tests related to academic learning processes including tests of academic ability, learning patterns, achievement, motivation, and personality factors. (e) Providing psychological counseling for individuals, groups, and families. (f) Consultation with other educators and parents on issues of social development and behavioral and academic difficulties. (g) Conducting psychoeducational assessments for the purposes of identifying special needs. (h) Developing treatment programs and strategies to address problems of adjustment. (i) Coordinating intervention strategies for management of individual crises.
- MFTI, MFCI ~ Interns
Individuals who have a Master’s degree and are fulfilling the requirements for licensure as a Marriage, Family, and Child Counselor. They see clients or work in a clinical setting, with their clinical work being supervised by a senior, licensed therapist.
- Marriage & Family Therapist ~ Associate Counselor
An associate is a pre-licensure candidate with a graduate degree in a mental health field. The associate is gaining the experience necessary to become a licensed independent clinical social worker, licensed advanced social worker, licensed mental health counselor or licensed marriage and family therapist.
- Psychiatrist ~ MD
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialized in mental health and must evaluate patients to determine whether their symptoms are the result of a physical illness, a combination of physical and mental, or a strictly psychiatric one. Most psychiatrists have less training in talk therapy.
- Ph.D ~ Psy.D ~ Psychologist
Psychologists are doctoral level clinicians. The one specialty psychologists have primarily is in administering psychological tests.
Life Coach certifications
At this time there is no state or federal regulation of the coaching industry. Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE), as an affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselors offers the BCC Certification. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is dedicated setting high standards and providing independent Life Coach Certification.
- C.L.C. ~ Certified Life Coach
- C. S. C. ~ Certified Spiritual Coach
- A.C.C. ~ Associate Certified Coach
- M.C.C. ~ Master Certified Coach
- P.C.C. ~ Professional Certified Coach
- A.C.T.P. ~ Accredited Coach Training Program
- B.C.C. ~ Board Certified Coach, National Board for Certified Counselors
- NBCOT Certification
Overview of the process
There are many ways to do this if you are considering sending your child to a residential program. This is just an overview of how the process can work…
STEP 1 – MAKING THE DECISION & FINDING A PROGRAM
- Work with a therapist or educational consultant to find the best program for your child.
STEP 2 – TRANSPORTATION
- Decide whether you need to use an “escort-transport” service if you don’t think your child will go willingly.
STEP 3 – SHORT TERM OPTIONS
- Programs may start with a [option 1] 30 Day Residential Program or [option 2] a Wilderness Program
STEP 4 – LONG TERM RESIDENTIAL
- Sometimes short-term programs are enough and other times, a next step is recommended so that your teen can take those newly learned tools and change them into habits.
- Some teens will go straight into a Therapeutic or Residential Boarding School without doing a short-term program prior.
STEP 5 – TRANSITIONING HOME
- When your teen is ready to come home, the program, your educational consultant and your local therapist can help you with the transition.
- There are great books on this process along with worksheets parents can do to prepare.
- Some families opt to do the transition on their own and line up support for their teen back home. Others have their teen transition to a regular boarding school. And others opt to use one of the Family Coaches who specialize in this process.
What are residential treatment programs?
THERAPEUTIC BOARDING SCHOOL… is an out-of-home placement that combines therapy and education for students with emotional and behavioral disorders, substance use disorders, or learning disabilities.
RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT PROGRAM… A residential treatment center (RTC), is a live-in health care facility providing therapy for substance abuse, mental illness, or other behavioral problems. Many teen-based programs also provide an academic component with either classes or independent learning.
Both types of boarding usually include… family therapy, individual therapy, and group therapy.
What is wilderness therapy?
Wilderness therapy is a subset of adventure-based therapy. It is the use of wilderness expeditions for the purpose of therapeutic intervention. There are a range of different types of wilderness therapy programs, with a range of models and approaches.
Most programs employ no force, confrontation, point or level systems, or other overt behavioral modification techniques or models, but stress assertiveness, open communication between staff and students, and are very group-oriented. There is no one standardized model for the therapy, since many models of wilderness therapy are reflective of different programs, although most usually contain the following principles: a series of tasks that are increasingly difficult in order to challenge the patients; teamwork activities for working together; the presence of a psychiatrist or therapist as a group leader; and the use of a therapeutic process such as a reflection journal or self-evaluation.
NOTE: Choose carefully! There are many programs out there and not all of them are reputable. There are treatment programs where abusive situations have been reported. Talk to other families who have used the programs or hire a consultant.
For more information, view the NATSAP website.
Researching residential programs
Here are a few sites to help you continue your research as you explore treatment options. It is highly recommended that you hire an Educational Consultant to assist you in this process.
- The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs
- Start exploring the types of programs available, especially if looking for a particular school. Locate an educational consultant. Under the parent tab you can find a detailed list of questions to ask when visiting and researching schools and programs.
- Independent Educational Consultants Association
- Lists educational consultants by state and type of services they provide.
- The Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Industry Council
- Several wilderness treatment programs that have joined together to collaborate and share the best practices to promote program standards for wilderness treatment.
- Best Therapeutic Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens
- Free Help Finding the potential Right Therapeutic Boarding School for Your Teenager
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- This is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization.
- Managed Care
- HMO (Health Maintenance Organization)
- PPO (Preferred Provider Organization)
- POS (Point of Service)
- EPO (Exclusive Provider Organization)
- In-Network Provider
- Out-of-Network Provider
- Single-Case Agreement
- Annual Deductible
- Annual Maximum
- Lifetime Maximum
This blanket term is used to describe the primary system through which health care services are provided in the U.S. An insurance company directs—i.e. manages—the way you get your treatment, from regular check-ups to accidents to major illnesses. Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) include the doctors, hospitals, laboratories, and clinics that make up your network.
HMO (Health Maintenance Organization):
HMO plans set up a network of doctors and other health care providers for your health care needs. HMO plans require you to choose a Primary Care Physician (PCP) who functions as a gatekeeper for your care. Under HMO plans, you need a referral from your PCP to see a specialist or receive any type of treatment or care (except for emergencies) your PCP does not provide. If you’re unsure exactly what kind of policy you have but you know you need a referral to see a specialist, then you most likely part of an HMO. Compared to other types of plans, HMOs generally have lower premiums and co-pays, but their networks tend to be smaller.
PPO (Preferred Provider Organization):
Like HMOs, PPOs set up a network of doctors and health care providers for your health care needs. Under a PPO plan you typically don’t need to choose a gatekeeper Primary Care Physician (PCP), which means you don’t need a referral to see a specialist. PPO networks tend to be larger than HMO networks, but the premiums, co-pays, and deductibles tend to be higher.
POS (Point of Service):
Like HMOs and PPOs, POS plans set up a network of doctors and health care providers for your health care needs. Under a POS plan, you pay much less if you use doctors in your network. POS plans often require you to choose a Primary Care Physician (PCP) and get referrals to see any type of specialist.
EPO (Exclusive Provider Organization):
Like HMOs, PPOs, and POS plans, EPOs set up a network of doctors and health care providers for your health care needs. However, under an EPO plan, your costs will be covered only if you use providers in the network.
Health insurance companies create contracts with groups of doctors, hospitals, laboratories, and other health care providers to form a network. The idea of a network is that the insurance companies pre-negotiate specific rates for health care services with a group of providers, then encourage you to use them. Therefore, an In-Network provider is any provider in the group your insurance company has a contract with.
An Out-of-Network provider is any doctor or health care provider who does not have a pre-existing contract with your insurance company.
You see or hear In-Network/Out-of-Network before lots of different insurance terms such as deductible, benefit, co-pay, maximum, etc. In these contexts, the phrases almost always refer to your level of coverage or how much you have to pay for services you receive from providers who are either in or out of the group your insurance company has pre-negotiated contracts with.
A Single-Case Agreement is when a provider such as Evolve works out a special contract so that out-of-network providers can work with your insurance company on an in-network basis. Evolve operates solely on an Out-of-Network basis, so we have extensive experience working with insurance companies to created Single-Case Agreements for teens with emotional, behavioral, or substance abuse disorders.
This is the amount of money you must pay per year for medical expenses before your coverages kicks in and starts covering your expenses. For instance, if you have a $500 Annual Deductible, you’re responsible for the first $500 of expenses. After $500, your insurance plan pays whatever percentage of costs your plan specifies. Monthly premiums, copays, and prescription drug costs do not count toward your deductible.
Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many plans placed a limit they’d pay each year for any given illness or injury. For instance, if your plan had a $30,000 annual maximum for substance abuse treatments, then your insurance would pay all expenses up to $30,000, after your annual deductible. Annual Maximums are now illegal under law. With the current state of flux regarding the ACA, it’s unclear whether Annual Maximums will be reinstated or not. We will update this information as soon as it’s available.
Before the Affordable Care Act, many plans placed an overall limit they’d pay for any given illness or injury—just like the annual maximum, but calculated over your lifetime. Lifetime Maximums are now illegal under law. With the current state of flux regarding the ACA, it’s unclear whether Lifetime Maximums will be reinstated or not. We will update this information as soon as it’s available.
Putting together a clinical packet...
These are some of the things you may be asked for when your teen is being evaluated so that the professionals can have a full picture to better make recommendations...
- School records & transcripts (do they have an IEP or any academic assessments?)
- Treatment history
- Clinical history, therapeutic evaluations (psychological testing if applicable)
- Hospital records
- Medication list
- Medical history, recent physical, and any lab (blood) work
- Insurance information
What are the different specialties?
- Clinical psychologists assess and treat people with psychological problems. They may act as therapists for people experiencing normal psychological crises or for individuals suffering from chronic psychiatric disorders.
- Counseling psychologists do many of the same things that clinical psychologists do. However, they tend to focus more on persons with adjustment problems rather than on persons suffering from severe psychological disorders.
- Developmental psychologists study how we develop intellectually, socially, and emotionally over the lifespan. Many do research and teach in academic settings, but many act as consultants to schools or social service agencies.
- Educational psychologists are concerned with the study of human learning. They attempt to understand the basic aspects of learning and then develop materials and strategies for enhancing the learning process.
- Forensic psychologists are involved in analyzing crime evidence and aiding law enforcement agencies in criminal investigations.
- Health psychologists are concerned with psychology’s contributions to the promotion and maintenance of good health and the prevention and treatment of illness. They may design and conduct programs to help individuals stop smoking, lose weight, manage stress, and stay physically fit.
- Industrial/organizational psychologists are primarily concerned with the relationships between people and their work environments.
- Physiological psychologists study the physiological correlates of behavior.
- School psychologists are involved in enhancing the development of children in educational settings. They assess children’s psychoeducational abilities and recommend actions to facilitate student learning.
- Social psychologists study how our beliefs, feelings, and behaviors are affected by other persons. Most work in academic settings.
Psychological Evaluation Process
Psychological testing is nearly always performed by a licensed psychologist since they are the only profession that is expertly trained to perform and interpret psychological tests.
Psychological assessment is a process of testing that uses a combination of techniques including interviews and observations to help arrive at some hypotheses about an individual and their behavior, personality and capabilities.
It is recommended as part of a full assessment that the individual also have a full medical examination, to rule out the possibilities of a medical, disease or organic cause for the individual’s symptoms.
- Interviews with the child/teen, parents, teachers, academic counselors and therapists allow the psychologist to gather valuable information. This is usually done prior to any formal testing and there can also be follow up.
- Assessment of Intellectual Functioning (IQ)
- Intelligence Tests: Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler scales
- IQ Test: WAIS-IV – Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale , WISC-IV – Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children
- Halstead Reitan Battery neuropsychological tests
- Personality Assessment
- Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
- Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory, 3rd edition (MCMI-III)
- Rorschach Inkblot Test
- Behavioral Assessment
- Observing the child/teen in their natural environment can also be helpful in having a better understanding of the individual. Often, behavior observations is some of the most important information.
- How does the person act? Nervous, calm, smug? What they do and do not do? Do they make and maintain eye contact? How close to you do they sit?
ASSESSMENT & RECOMMENDATIONS
- Psychologists take all of the information they have gathered to create an assessment and then make recommendations based on the results.
Recommended Digital Resources
Online counseling can be referred to as e-therapy, e-coaching, e-counseling, teletherapy or cyber-counseling. Rather than going into an office setting, a therapist, counselor or coach provides counseling advice and support via your computer with video conferencing or your mobile device.
- Online therapy is growing incredibly fast — here’s why that matters >
- Virtual therapy expanding mental health care >
Free 24/7 CRISIS TEXT Line
- Text: HELLO to 741-741
- Visit website >
- A completely virtual counseling and therapy clinic that uses the latest online and video technologies to serve a diverse set of clients including adults, children, couples, families, and military personnel. Providing services throughout California
- Covered by most major insurance.
- Visit website >
- Book an appointment with one of their licensed therapists or
psychiatrists. Meet with them through your computer or smart phone.
- Breakthrough offers free online assessments that you can take to learn about your mental health symptoms and potential conditions.
- Breakthrough does not offer crisis counseling or emergency services.
- Fees vary by therapist.
- List of CA therapists >
- Visit website >
Ginger.IO Phone App
- All-in-one care for stress, anxiety, and depression. Ginger.io offers personalized care plans with chat-based coaching, proactive check-ins, video sessions with therapists, and self-care tools—all through your phone.
- GingerCare Membership costs $129 per month.
GingerCare & Therapy membership* costs $249 per month.
GingerCare & Psychiatry membership* costs $349 per month.
- Visit website >
Educational Consultants that work with families that have at-risk teens typically have extensive experience in crisis intervention, dealing with oppositional behaviors, and other emotional/behavioral difficulties.
Educational Consultants focus on finding the best solutions and specialize in therapeutic boarding school, residential treatment and wilderness placements. Educational consultants know the schools and programs and have an in-depth knowledge of the program differences and quality of the staff.
Fees… Some consultants charge an hourly fee, while others offer an overall fee for the whole process from start to finish. Ask your consultant what the fee includes. [Note: Consultants should not receive any incentives from the programs that they refer to.]
The process… Consultants collect information including school transcripts, therapeutic evaluations, medications, and possibly do some psychological or academic assessments to help identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses. The consultant then gives your family the full range of options that best fit for your child.
Finding a consultant… Referrals are always a great way to go when looking for a consultant. There is also a national organization, IECA, and these approved member consultants are trained experts and the website, IECAonline.com is a great resource for learning more.
What are Transition/Aftercare Programs?
Hiring a family coach/mentor can be a great support when teens who have been in a residential program are transitioning back home.
- Continuing Care: Coaches are trained to support families in transition and offer practical direction and help set realistic expectations and come up with a concrete plan of action.
- Family Coach: This is often an intensive service that focuses on reducing unmanageable behaviors that are currently impacting the teen’s functioning at home or school. The coach helps the teen learn new ways of reducing and managing behaviors and increase positive behaviors and coping skills. Parents are taught how to effectively manage the behaviors and support their teen. Meetings typically take place in the home so the coach can see the teen in their natural environment where the challenging behaviors usually occur. Coaches provide modeling, structure, support and behavioral interventions based on the teen and family’s abilities, interests, and strengths.
- Coyote Coast
Designed to provide therapeutic support services to teens and families experiencing emotional, behavioral, and substance-related difficulties. Mentoring along with parent coaching helps families create a plan for troubled at home, at risk teens as well as extremely helpful in supporting the entire family when transitioning your teen back home from a program.
- Homeward Bound
Created to fill the gap between out-of-home treatment programs and the realities of home life or independent living and quickly discovered that the processes were highly successful when used as a preventative measure as well. They believes that every family can benefit greatly from the practical and customized education, coaching, and real-time support that they can provide.
- VIVE: Family Support Program
Works to heal troubled kids and family relationships and are often called upon by parents who are experiencing a chaotic or turbulent time in their families. Vive supports young people and their families who find themselves struggling with a difficult transition or life event, or who are experiencing mild to moderate emotional issues.
- 360 Program
360 helps adolescents and young adults successfully transition from treatment to home, college, or independence. It provides the family with wrap-around support to help parents as skills are transferred from treatment to the real-world setting.
What is a Youth Transport-Escort Service?
A transport service specializes in the transportation of at-risk youth to private programs and schools. They are designed to help by providing safe transportation and a therapeutic transition. Escorts are trained to anticipate resistance from the teens, so they are trained to look for signs of anxiety or attempts to run and have a plan for how to respond.
Transport services are usually a last resort for parents to transport their teens to programs/treatment. If you are using this option, ask for a referral from friends, your therapist or educational consultant. You want this process to go as smoothly as possible.
Teen transport services can be expensive since it usually involves airfare for both the teen and their escort team as well as their fees for service.
The process… Most escorts arrive at your residence early in the morning or very late at night to ensure that the teen is at home and sleeping. The parents meet the escorts at the front door with the clothes for the child to wear during the transport. In addition they have any necessary luggage packed. The escorts are led to the teen’s room, the parents wake the teen and introduce the escorts and tell their teen that the escorts are there to take them to the program. The parents are then asked to leave the room so as not to be seen by the child. The escorts get the teen dressed and take them directly out to the car. They are placed in the back seat with the child locks on and one escort will sit beside them. The team sets boundaries for the teen and explains what behavior is acceptable. The escorts call the parents as soon as their teen has been dropped at the program and a report is given to the parents on the behavior and mood of the teen during the transport.
The negatives… The process of being forcibly removed from the home can be traumatic for both the teen and their parents. Some teens describe it as feeling like they were kidnapped. Parents and teens will sometimes hear these escorts referred to as “Goons”.