Is your teenager vehemently against the idea of getting professional help, despite the fact that they need it? Are you out of ideas on how to get them into a residential treatment program or convince them to go see a therapist?
Depending on how your teen is acting, what their misconceptions might be, what they’re afraid of, and what they’re diagnosed with, you may have a few different ways of dealing with the hand you’ve been dealt.
What Kind of Help Does Your Teen Need?
Always look out for your child, but if your teen is worried about being sent to an inpatient facility because they feel like residential treatment or rehab is overkill, consider compromising by asking them to talk to a therapist first or engage in an outpatient program.
Sometimes, getting a foot in the door is what matters most. Once your teen is in treatment, they may reconsider a residential program as they develop a better idea of what treatment is all about and what it might entail.
Is Your Teen Worried About Treatment?
A teenager who might need professional help are anxious about receiving it. There are a number of things a teen might be worried about, even if they’re outwardly aggressive or dismissive about getting help.
For example, your teen might not want to get treatment because it might mean taking an extended break from seeing their friends and peers. Maybe they’re worried they’ll have to break up with their partner. Maybe they don’t want to feel left behind or discriminated against for being “crazy.” Or maybe they’re angry about feeling like a burden and feel like getting help will only cement that feeling.
Mental health treatments aren’t a sham or a trick – your teen stands to gain everything and lose nothing. But they have to see that.
Convincing Your Teen
Talk to your teen, over and over again. Probe them, and be sincere. What are they worried about? Why don’t they want to consider treatment? If they believe it won’t help them, then talk to them about the evidence to the contrary. They aren’t alone with their condition, and chances are that it’s treatable – if addressed early, with individual therapy, medication, and specific mental health modalities.
If they’re worried about the consequences treatment might have for their life in school or in the community, talk to them about weighing the pros and the cons. Should they stay beholden to the opinion of a few other kids and let their mental and physical health suffer as a result? Are their friends really friends if they refuse to support them or want to judge them for their mental health? Can they really trust and rely on their boyfriend or girlfriend if getting help for a serious condition is a dealbreaker?
Avoid labels, dramatic arguments, or heavy-handed threats, like a life of crime or destitution. Your teen needs to understand that this isn’t a punishment or a burden – it’s a chance at a better life, an opportunity.
It’s Not Punishment
It can be difficult to get through to a teenager if they’ve made up their mind about something, especially as a parent. While teens do generally follow in their parent’s footsteps, they’re also at an age where confrontation and contradiction are normal.
However, they might be more likely to listen to someone else. Consider talking to a therapist or professional counselor about setting up a meeting or an intervention to educate your teen on their options and convince them.
Can You Force a Teenager?
When you’re sure you have done absolutely everything in your power to try and get through to your teen on the topic of therapy and treatment, it’s time to think the unthinkable – what about getting them the help they need without their immediate consent?
It’s important to point out that this doesn’t always work out, but sometimes, you aren’t left with much choice. Some mental health conditions make seeking help nearly impossible without a significant “push” – for example, certain conduct disorders and personality disorders are dependent on denying illness, denying treatment, denying culpability, and aggressively – and sometimes even violently – confronting authority.
Considering Other Options for Treatment
Dealing with a teenager who will vehemently fight back against the idea of treatment with no room for compromise may warrant considering other options. If your teen is underaged, then you technically can consent for them, depending on your state of residence. Be sure to ask a legal professional or find out through your state’s updated legislature if minors can consent to mental health treatment – or, respectively, consent to avoid treatment.
If you are legally in control, then you can arrange for your teen to be transported to a residential treatment facility against their will. Again, this isn’t ideal, and there are many case-by-case circumstances and factors that need to be discussed with both a professional therapist and your teen before resorting to any drastic measures.
Once your teen turns 18, they are an adult, and you can’t really make them do anything, especially go to therapy or seek out treatment on their own.
You do have other means of coercing your child, such as cutting them off from certain privileges. You can’t kick a minor out of your home, but you can cut off access to their phone, car, or allowance and limit their time with friends. Again, burning bridges with your teen can be hard to undo – but it’s also important to clarify that certain behavior will reap certain consequences and that those consequences are serious.
Teen Residential Treatment Centers Can Help
If your teen is not struggling with a conduct disorder or a personality disorder, then chances are that they will eventually see reason, especially if you work with a mental health professional to help them understand the difference between the reality of residential treatment and the stereotype of mental health boot camps or psychiatric facilities.
You’re not sending your child into a Hollywood horror asylum – most residential treatment facilities focus on providing high-quality amenities for rest and relaxation and are staffed with medical professionals who will cater to your teen’s well-being and education.
For more information about residential treatment for teen mental health, reach out to Visions Treatment Centers.