When your children are very young and their coughs or cries wake you up in the night, parents fall naturally into the role of caregiver: sitting up with a sick child, dosing him with medicines, warming soup for him, and watching over him in the darkest hours of the night.
For many parents, it’s instinctive: waiting out the worst with a child, and being loving and comforting in the meantime, can ease his suffering.
Adolescents and their parents struggle to communicate and understand each other, and studies show that teens are less and less likely to ask for help when they’re suffering. The same child that cried out in the night just a few years ago is a conspicuously silent teenager.
If you’re concerned about your teen—if they’re starting to struggle at school, have become isolated and secretive, are hanging with a new crowd and getting into trouble, or giving you any other cause for alarm—know that you are not alone.
If you’re wondering about how to talk to your teen, we’ve got six tips for talking about mental health that you might find helpful.
Note: if you suspect your teen is considering suicide or practicing self-harm, seek immediate intervention.
Teens struggling with mental and behavioral health issues, including substance use, self-harm, problematic gaming, and social media addiction, will often show physical signs of their illness. A parent is likely to treat a physical symptom with a physical solution such as discipline, consequences, and punishments. These might include restricting time with devices or taking away his phone, television and computer privileges altogether, grounding your kid or barring them from hanging out with certain friends.
But if at the root of your teen’s troubling behavior there is a mental or behavioral health issue, you won’t be able to help him on your own. Your family needs the support and guidance of specialists in teen mental health.
Mental, behavioral and substance use issues are special issues that require special knowledge and intervention. Parents who try to help their struggling kids on their own risk hurting themselves, their other children, and their struggling teen even more. That is why Family First involves a Licensed Mental Health Counselor before admission to treatment to make proper recommendations.
In other words, if your teenager is struggling with mental health behavioral health, and substance use issues, you need guidance.
At Family First Adolescent Services, helping teens struggling with mental, behavioral and substance use issues, as well as self-harm and problematic gaming, is what we do. Our specialized, teen-centric approach meets adolescents at their level, tapping into their sense of creativity, vitality, and community.
Evidence-Based Teen-Centric Treatment
We know that teen emotions feel super-sized, so we developed our 5-in-7 methodology where a new client will see his primary therapist for five individual sessions within the first seven days of his stay with us. It’s an intensive approach that creates a baseline of trust and communication with our clinical staff, and jump-starts progress.
We use focus weeks to deeply explore adolescent emotions, and rely on a mix of individual, group, and family therapy sessions as well as experiential activities that help clients connect with their body and imagination in a group setting. It’s an intensive, demanding, and specialized process that relies on a range of therapeutic modalities like CBT, DBT, motivational interviewing and NARM.
Teens learn how to understand and express their emotions in sustainable and socially acceptable ways. As a result, our clients are better able to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with their parents, peers and other trusted people in their lives.
Interrupting Destructive Patterns
If your teenager has been struggling with mental health, behavioral health or substance use, your entire family has been affected too.
Parents feel exhausted, overwrought, and hopeless, and other family members—including other children—act out and blame themselves or each other. It’s an environment that is full to the brim with intensity and chaos.
Temporarily removing your teen from their home environment gives the whole family a chance to take a breath and address what’s been happening. At the same time, your teen is able to focus on himself to understand the impact his struggles have had on the rest of his family.
Therapeutic Support for Parents and Guardians
Parents often blame themselves or feel responsible for the pain their adolescent child is feeling. This guilt and shame can hurt a teen who’s struggling, so having highly trained and experienced clinical professionals manage the early recovery of a teen is vital for both kid and parent.
Meanwhile, parents spend time working their child’s primary therapist to explore some of the issues that have been affecting the family dynamic, as well as completing tailored assignments and participating in a three-day, on-campus Parent Integration Program. Parents might also be referred to a therapist or community-based support group in their hometown for additional support.
Strengthened with a bit of their own healing, parents can create a happier, healthier and more stable home environment for the whole family.
Is Family First Adolescent Services residential treatment right for your family? Call us to find out (561) 328-7370.