How Do I Help My Child After Treatment?

Treatment at a rehabilitation facility for teenagers dealing with addiction, cutting, promiscuity, depression, or other issues, is just one step in the recovery process. Most kids will need continued support and interventions to keep them from relapsing in their recovery. As parents, we want to know what we can do to best support our kids during the critically important post-treatment phase of recovery.

Planning Aftercare During Treatment

Proactive measures to preventing relapse after treatment should be discussed during the treatment process. As children undergo treatment, families can support them through the process by:

  • Working on resolving other issues within the family while the child is in treatment
  • Dealing with personal problems or feelings about the current family crisis that lead to a child in treatment
  • Finding support from other families dealing with similar issues
  • Participating in any workshops or parenting classes offered by the facility
  • Discussing aftercare and working on a “coming home/behavioral contract” before the teenager’s discharge from the facility

Fire Mountain Residential Treatment of Estes Park, Colorado, offers support and resources for the whole family in recovery. Many families believe that fixing only the child with addiction or other problematic issues will resolve the current crisis. However, the best approach to helping teens—and other family members—is to “fix the family system.” When families are involved in treatment by coaching, planning, and supporting their child, they can expect more successful outcomes during and after treatment.

What Does “Aftercare” Look Like?

Recovery is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach for dealing with complex behavioral problems. Instead, recovery may look different for each person depending upon several factors, such as:

  • Underlying issues and concerns, such as trauma, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or other mental health disorders
  • Individual preferences and learning styles that might guide decision-making for therapeutic modalities or support groups
  • Spiritual beliefs that guide morals and behaviors
  • Physical health concerns, such as chronic pain that might impact a person’s mental wellness
  • Legal issues that might impose consequences of their own and mandate specific types of interventions

The steps taken during aftercare from treatment greatly depend upon the individual. The specific types of therapies, interventions, and support vary from person to person based upon the issues they are currently encountering. 

Generally speaking; however, most aftercare in recovery will involve some of the following elements:

  • Outpatient therapy
    • There are various modalities, theories, and methods used in therapy.
    • Some techniques, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), are generally used for treating multiple issues, like depression, anxiety, and OCD.
    • Other treatments, like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), might be best suited to treat trauma.
    • Experiential therapies, such as pet-assisted therapy, art/music therapy, or recreation therapy, can help kids struggling with traditional “talk” therapies. (These therapies can be beneficial for boys, as they tend to respond better to tangible and “hands-on” forms of therapy.)
  • Support Groups
    • There are several different support groups out there, depending upon the issues occurring.
    • Support groups are available for:
      • OCD
      • Greif
      • Eating disorders
      • Depression and other mood disorders
      • Anxiety
      • Personality disorders, like Borderline Personality Disorder
    • Addiction support groups can help with drug and alcohol abuse like:
  • Structured Enrichment Activities
    • Recovery is not just about overcoming addiction or a mental health disorder.
    • Recovery can encompass “whole-self” (mind, body, and spirit) elements.
    • Kids can benefit from finding passions and interests that enrich their lives, such as:
      • Volunteering in the community
      • Personal fitness, like weight lifting, running, kick-boxing, or sports
      • Learning new skills, like music, cooking, or art
  • Continued Natural Supports
    • “Natural supports” refers to people involved in the child’s life in some meaningful way, especially the family.
    • Aftercare that involves the whole family will have a positive impact on the child’s success after treatment.
    • Family members can build a support team of concerned and caring individuals important to the child’s life, such as relatives outside of the immediate family, family friends, teachers, coaches, siblings, and others.

Incorporating these elements in aftercare planning can help your child continue the recovery journey following treatment.

Planning for Aftercare

The best time to plan aftercare for your child is during their current treatment. “Behavioral contracts” and “coming home contracts” can be a great way of creating consequences and expectations for your child following treatment. Contracts help to hold kids accountable while also planning for what comes next following treatment. Negotiating contracts will help the transition from active treatment to returning home go much more smoothly, as your child will state the things that best support him. You can also include planning for relapse by identifying warning signs that things are not going well. Contracts can help you and your child both prepare for and prevent relapse.

Aftercare planning can occur throughout your child’s stay within a treatment facility. Many facilities, like Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center, offer support for families to create a smooth transition from active treatment to returning home. We believe that recovery is not just about helping the individual in treatment. Recovery is about helping to heal the family system to create a healthy and happy home for everyone. We provide parenting workshops and coaching sessions to help you support your kid during this process. We can also connect you to other families and parents dealing with similar struggles due to addiction or mental health issues. For insight on a Fire Mountain graduate’s experience after treatment, listen to the “Beyond Risk and Back” episode, “Addiction or Hobby?”. If you have other concerns or feel that treatment is the next right step for your kid, call us today at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to make your family’s fire burn brightest!

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