CHAPTER 1: ALL OR NOTHING: WHAT IT TAKES TO SUCCEED
The following is a brief summarization of the first chapter in our weekly analysis of Dr. Tim Thayne's Not By Chance, HOW PARENTS BOOST THEIR TEEN’S SUCCESS IN and AFTER TREATMENT.
Getting the Most Out of Treatment - Parental Contributions Are Key
One of the fundamental themes of Not By Chance is that treatment is not simply an endeavor that the teen has to embark on. For treatment to successfully rehabilitate a troubled teen, parents must commit to "going all in." Going all-in means being involved in every step of a teenager's healing journey, knowing and understanding your role in their rehabilitation, and how you can contribute to your child's treatment in the future.
Why is parental involvement so important?
According to research, Dr. Tim Thayne points out that family involvement heavily factors into the long-term success of any given residential treatment - Namely, the stability of the home environment and the family's participation in aftercare services.
Dr. Thayne Says:
"Getting the most out of treatment, everyone, especially parents, has to commit to going "all in." Determine to engage sufficiently to understand your role in your teen's challenges as well as needed contributions to your teen's future successes.
Excerpt from Chapter 1, Page 37: " In one study I reviewed (Sunseri, 2004), treatment outcomes were highly associated with the level of family functioning, and involvement in the treatment program’s processes helps increase a family’s level of functioning. In addition, the same study showed that success was also associated with the teen “completing” the program. Parents who are engaged in the process are more likely to understand and buy into the approach being taken in treatment and, therefore, support treatment through to completion. Doing so will improve the functioning of their family.
Hope is Not a Strategy!
To simply hope that a teen will be miraculously cured once they return home - without experiencing bumps along the way - is naive. Dr. Thayne explains that parents must be prepared for stumbling or relapsing in behavior somehow (talking to past, negative influences, falling into a pattern of unmotivated behaviors, etc.) is inevitable.
When these “bumps in the road” occur, structure and stability are parents' best tools. Research shows that structure - i.e., daily routines, work, goals, etc. - and a constant, stabilized environment are “huge factors” in the long-term success of treatment.
As Dr. Thayne puts it,
“a teen’s environment has a powerful pull. This fact is precisely the reason you have taken your teen out of the home and placed that child in a specialized environment: to invite positive change.”
In other words, you can’t rehabilitate the life of a teen without removing them from their old, chaotic, and negative environment.
Excerpt from chapter one, page 39: “Even in the best of homes, there is a big difference between the highly structured and safe milieu that teens experience in good programs, and the often inconsistent and haphazard approaches that result in most homes: far less structure, less support and frankly, a whole lot more complexity in relationships and life’s challenges.”
Have a Plan and Stick With It!
Most parents who send their child to a residential treatment facility - typically, a place that is far away - will second guess their decision at one point or another. To make things even more complicated, their child will often pull at their heartstrings by saying things like, "I'm not nearly as bad as the rest of these kids!" or "You never trust me or recognize the good things I’m doing so I’m going to just quit trying."
Your teen will likely do or say anything to make you feel like you made the wrong choice. But like any venture worth seeing through, stick to your well-thought-out and researched plan and trust in the program you specifically picked to rehabilitate your child.
(editor's note: as a former staff member, student, and person who has literally grown up in the troubled teen industry, I can wax poetic about all of the "guilt-trip" messages that students will initially tell their families. I've heard them all. I've even said them all as a teenager. But rest assured, if you have done your homework and due diligence on the program, these guilt trip statements will subside, and real restoration will eventually take place.)
Dr. Thayne Says:
"Second-guessing usually only undermines and slows progress. Once you have made a good decision for treatment, it usually continues to be the right decision, even in difficult times. You did your homework. You asked family and friends for input. You used the best professional advice you could find before choosing a therapeutic milieu to foster growth in your son or daughter. Sticking with your decision and backing up the process is nearly always the best course to take."