Importance of Family Involvement in Therapeutic Boarding School Aftercare Plan

Finding and attending a quality therapeutic boarding school is only part of your teen’s journey toward emotional and behavioral recovery.

While teens who have successfully attended a therapeutic boarding school have new skills and insights, the teens’ reintroduction into the larger society can be a tenuous time. That’s why having family involvement after attending a therapeutic boarding school is so essential.

Discuss Aftercare Plan With School

No reputable therapeutic boarding school for troubled teens will send their students home without an aftercare plan. This plan is created to help students successfully transition back into living with their families and facing the challenges that led the students to attend the school in the first place.

What will be recommended in your teen’s aftercare plan will vary depending on their needs. Some constants are:

  • Continued therapy - While attending a therapeutic boarding school, your teen received regular therapy, which is often the source of permanent change. To help make their transition home easier, it is best that your teen keep attending therapy. That way, if your teen runs into difficulty as they adjust to living at home, your teenager will be able to work with their therapist on healthy responses to their stressors.
  • Keep medication - If your teen has been taking medication while attending a therapeutic boarding school, it is best to keep that medication consistent. Some parents believe once their teen comes home, the medication is unnecessary. However, stopping medication cold turkey can be dangerous and leave your teenager unbalanced.
  • Discuss final report - When your teen is discharged from their school, there should be a final report. It will detail your teen’s care, the progress they have made, and other essential information. Also, there will often be recommendations made in this report. If you have any questions, be sure to discuss them with your teen’s therapeutic boarding school.

Most therapeutic boarding schools will maintain contact with the families of former students, especially for the first few months, to assist with the transition. That way, if you have questions or concerns, you will be able to contact the advisors at the school your teen attended for advice and support.

Prepare For Your Teen To Have Setbacks

For the first couple of weeks, when your teen returns home, your family may enjoy a honeymoon phase where everyone is on their best behavior. Not only is your teen likely happy to be home, but everyone else wants things to stay perfect and happy. However, that’s not how real life works.

The first time an argument sparks, your teenager may slip back into old bad habits like name-calling or other negative behaviors. Or, your teen may try to test their boundaries and do something they know you don’t approve of your teenager engaging in.

Rather than feeling like the time spent at a therapeutic boarding school had no effect, you should expect your teen to have some setbacks. It can be hard for teens to go back into the environment where they developed poor coping mechanisms and inappropriate habits.

By understanding that your teen will struggle with being home and will have at least a few setbacks, you can prepare to moderate your response. Perhaps all you have to do is remind your teen that their behavior is unacceptable and that they know better.

Depending on your teen’s aftercare plan, there may be specific things you can say or do to help your teen remember the lessons they learned while attending therapeutic boarding school.

Look Into Academics After Therapeutic Boarding School

Therapeutic boarding schools provide troubled teens with a supportive learning environment where they can catch up with peers. At Liahona Treatment Center, our academic program provides a curriculum that allows our students to learn according to their needs. Many of our students find far greater academic achievement with this type of schooling.

Re-entering the public school system can be difficult after the accommodations your teen received while attending a therapeutic boarding school. If possible, see if you can get your teen an Individual Educational Plan (IEP). With an IEP, your teen can receive a number of benefits, from extra test time to quiet rooms to do their work in, depending on your teen’s needs.

If your teen graduates from a therapeutic boarding school—our program offers high school diplomas, not just GEDs—help your teen consider the next step academically. This step can cover a range of learning, from an apprenticeship to attending a junior college or university.

There are many options your teen can choose from, and having the structure and feelings of success that academics provide, it is a good idea to help your teen transition home with an educational plan.

Help Your Teen Maintain Structure

Another critical way families can support teens who return from a therapeutic boarding school is by providing a structured environment. The old saying, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” isn’t necessarily the case. However, teens that go from the highly structured environment at a therapeutic boarding school to hours and hours of unscheduled time can be tough.

Rather than leave your teen at loose ends, you can help them maintain a healthy structure that can keep them centered. This structure can include:

  • Daily exercise time
  • Scheduled study and homework time
  • Set amounts of recreation
  • Regular volunteering

Take Steps For Family Reconnection

Lastly, but potentially most importantly, as part of your teen’s aftercare plan, it is important that you all reforge your family connection. Your teen needs to feel family support and love as they make the transition back home. That way, if they begin to struggle again, your teen can be confident that you will help them.

There are no set things you have to do to reconnect as a family. However, you can improve your teen’s connection to the family by making regular time to be together. The time spent together can be doing active things such as family hikes, painting, going on a road trip, and other quality time activities.

Also, spending time one-on-one with your teen can help them rebuild their vital connection to you as their parent. As your teen grows in confidence in your connection to them, your teen will be better able to trust you if they do run into difficulties during their transition home.

For any questions you may have regarding Liahona Treatment Center, our program, and how we support families after students leave, feel free to contact us today.

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