Sending a child away to a residential, wilderness, or assessment program can have powerful benefits for the child and the family. This may not be an easy choice, but it does have advantages.
Using Distance as a Therapeutic Tool
Utilizing distance as a therapeutic tool has these advantages:
- Ensures the immediate safety of the child and family at home.
- Removes the immediacy of communication- “knee jerk” responses to anger or frustration are eliminated while the child can learn new, healthy ways to deal with their emotions.
- Removes child’s current stressors, peer group, and temptations.
- Serves as a total reset for the family. Communication can resume slowly.
- Ensures the child is focused on the therapy and interactions of the distant facility. Removing the temptation to get their friends to “rescue” them from local treatment.
- Improves accuracy of assessment– outpatient treatment relies on the child accurately recounting events, feelings, and behaviors sometimes days after. At inpatient program assessment is in real-time.
- Ensures the confidentiality of the child. At a local facility, the child will likely encounter peers or even form relationships with individuals that could potentially continue after treatment.
Making the Decision
We encourage families to consider a Balance Sheet of pros and cons to weigh the decision to send their child to an inpatient program.
- Does the cost for changes and a new direction now outweigh waiting and hoping for maturity and changes with time?
- Have efforts already made show great or limited success? What can change without a significant intervention?
- Are things better today than a few months or years ago?
- How likely is it that things get worse?
- How long might changes take at home and what kind of time and financial investment is required?