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Choosing the right teen treatment program for your child can be very difficult. We are often torn between doing the right thing and wanting the easiest and most comfortable path for our teens. Still, sometimes, specialized or intensive care is the only appropriate measure for ensuring that your child gets the treatment they need. Furthermore, mental disorders come in all shapes and sizes, with a dramatically vast array of associated problems and symptoms. The offer for teen treatment programs is beginning to mirror the complexity with which mental health issues can manifest. It would help if you were as informed as possible when making this choice.

Different Teen Treatment Program Types

Teen treatment programs are focused on providing a flexible treatment plan to match your teen’s needs. To that end, most treatment facilities offer multiple programs depending on:

  • The severity of the disorder.
  • The level of danger a teen might pose for themselves or others.
  • And the appropriate level of care that their specific condition calls for.

Some cases are best treated without much upheaval from everyday life through an outpatient program that focuses on remote monitoring and support, for example. Other issues require a much more rigorous intervention and can involve housing a teen in a residential treatment facility for several weeks or months. It is always best to consult a professional and get a firsthand recommendation for what kind of treatment your teen might need, depending on their diagnosis and symptoms. We will go over some of the most common and basic teen treatment program types you are likely to encounter.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment

Mental health treatment programs are most often differentiated by being either an inpatient or outpatient program:

  1. Inpatient or residential treatment programs require a teen to live inside the facility throughout the treatment process, always caring for professionals and living alongside other teens.
  2. Outpatient programs are less intensive and focus on providing greater flexibility, allowing a teen to live at home and go to school or work while visiting the outpatient center on a scheduled basis, usually once or twice a week. Outpatient programs are also typically more affordable.

The pros and cons of both serve to skew inpatient programs as more favorable for teens with conditions that require long-term professional care and oversight, especially if their parents are typically at work throughout the week. In contrast, outpatient programs are often more appropriate for teens with moderate symptoms who do not need a more structured residential program. Inpatient programs are typically set in either a clinical or residential property, where teens are given individualized routines to address symptoms and group-based activities to promote healthy social relationships.

Sometimes, inpatient programs serve to take a teen out of a stressful or troubling environment, such as in addiction or trauma cases, where specific triggers could lead to relapses and should be avoided in the early months of treatment. In other cases, a professional might decide that a teen’s family dynamic could be antithetic to their treatment process. In this case, situating them in an inpatient program while addressing family strife through therapy would be far better for the teen’s recovery than an outpatient program that doesn’t serve to address the stressors at home.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

When teens need a treatment program that transitions them from an inpatient setting into outpatient treatment or need a step up from outpatient treatment before requiring 24-hour care, some professionals might recommend a partial hospitalization program (PHP). This is often a short-term program aimed at providing care for teens who have a hard time at school or work because of their condition but are not a danger to themselves or others. Partial hospitalization is also usually specialized towards teens with co-occurring disorders. Teens are expected to visit the facility during a partial hospitalization program, much like an outpatient program, but for multiple hours a day, often three to five days a week.

Extended Care Treatment

Mental health and addiction treatment programs are usually designed to be the first significant step in a teen’s path towards a better life quality. They are not the A-to-Z of recovery – instead, teens are expected to take what they have learned and experienced and, with the help of their friends and family, leverage this knowledge to cope with future problems, seek help during stressful times, and adhere to a long-term treatment plan that works for them.

But in some cases, the first steps of a teen’s treatment last longer than a few weeks, and extended care is needed. Some facilities provide comprehensive care programs that last several months, helping teens ease out of a residential setting, preparing them for the challenges they will have to overcome in addition to their symptoms and personal difficulties.

Extended care programs usually coordinate with a teen’s school, community, friends, and family to ensure a transition into a healthy and informed support system while helping the teen find their role in life and take on greater responsibilities. Teens will continue to take classes and study on the same level as their classmates while in an extended inpatient care program. These programs often coordinate with educators to adapt the teen’s curriculum into their daily schedule.

Specialty Clinics

Certain mental disorders require specialized care due to the nature of the illness. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), trauma disorders, and eating disorders may require specific or additional features to accommodate better teens with a dangerous or complicated condition that is more likely to lead to self-harm or might otherwise not be fully addressed in an environment that isn’t necessarily equipped with the staff and tools to help these teens.

For example, eating disorders carry the highest risk of death among all mental illnesses. They require a program tailored to a teen’s mental and physical needs, including access to emergency care, nutritional expertise, and physical therapy. Specialty clinics can address such disorders and help teens who might otherwise not get the help they need.

Teens with Mental Disorders Require Professional Help

The treatment process for any teen differs significantly depending on their circumstances and conditions. When choosing a treatment provider, it is essential to consider professional advice and choose based on your teen’s individual needs above all else. There are many different options out there, but often just a handful that is right for your child.