7 Strategies to Get Troubled Teens Into a Treatment Program

How to Persuade a Troubled Teen to Get the Intensive Help They Need

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Quick Links: Troubled Teens | Treatment Programs for Troubled Teens

When troubled teens need the structure and intensity of a residential treatment program parents may run into difficulty getting their teen to agree to participate in the program. Some teens know they're in trouble and agree to go when this option is presented to them, but many won't go into treatment until parents take action to persuade them to do so.

These strategies identify various ways to help motivate resistant teens to get the professional help they need, presented in order from the least to the most extreme. Try the strategies best suited to your teens' personality, problems and the extent of their protest.

1. Get another teen to talk.

Try to locate a teen who's benefited from being in a treatment program and ask if they will share their experience with your teen, who's much more likely to listen to a peer, especially one who's had this experience. Consider contacting adolescent therapists or teen programs and asking for help in setting this up.

2. Take away teen privileges.

Assert your parental power and let your teen know they won't have continued access to the privileges they may take for granted until they are willing to participate in the teen treatment program you've identified. Parents have leverage in getting teen agreement by taking away the use of a car, not paying for car insurance, sports or activities, taking away cell phones and computers, or turning off TV's or Internet access.

3. Give your teen some choice in the matter.

Present this to your teen as letting them have some input into the program they will participate in by giving them a choice about which program to go to, not if they are going to go. For example, a troubled teen can decide whether to attend a wilderness therapy program or a therapeutic boarding school.

In making their decision, it needs to be made clear that if the teen doesn't fully participate in the program they choose, they may be moved to a different one.

4. Ask your teens' school for help.

School counselors will usually talk to your teen regarding their concerns about problem behaviors or situations and discuss the benefits of getting help. If your teen is abusing drugs, school officials can confront your teen on suspicion of drug use, requiring them to participate in an evaluation in which the treatment recommendations have to be completed before returning to school. This works best when your teen is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while attending school.

5. Arrange an intervention.

Interventions can be very effective for a teen who is self-destructive and needs help, but isn't willing to get it. During an intervention the teen is confronted on how their problems are negatively affecting them and the people who care about them. Family members, close friends, clergy, employers, teachers and anyone else who knows the teen well present their concerns, without the teen having any prior knowledge this is going to happen.

There are even professional intervention specialists who can help with this process.

6. Consider having your teen escorted.

In cases when nothing motivates your teen to agree, they can be escorted into treatment by a service with professionals trained to safely transport teens. Sometimes letting a teen know this option is available will persuade them to go, knowing they have run out of options. In other situations, parents may not want to alert the teen of this option in advance.

7. Get the judicial system involved.

When a teen is abusing drugs or participating in other illegal activities, parents have the option to call the police and ask them to intervene, hoping a judge will order the teen into court mandated treatment. This approach does mean your teen may end up with an arrest record or possibly spend time in jail (for juveniles), but this may be the only way to get a teens' attention and the help they need to change their self-destructive behavior.

Quick Links: Troubled Teens | Treatment Programs for Troubled Teens

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