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There are hundreds of books written to help parents, families and teenagers in crisis. Many teenagers today are learning to hide their behavior and “symptoms”, to manipulate their counselor and doctors, blame others including their parents, and tragically, they begin to seek advice and comfort from other teenagers who feel like they do. With this new teenage “support” system, teenagers draw upon a wealth of experience, support and justification to manipulate parents, beat the system, escape responsibility and avoid consequences for their actions. The challenge facing many parents is great.
Understanding the potential cause of a crisis is only useful when there are potential interventions that are comprehensive and of sufficient duration and intensity to contain and redirect the situation. There exist a range of potential interventions.
- Alternative middle / high school
- Boarding school
- Change schools
- Community mental health centers
- Family Coaching
- Day treatment program
- Education and training for parents and teenagers
- Family counseling and therapy
- Family service agencies
- Group counseling and therapy
- Increased parental involvement and supervision
- Individual counseling and therapy
- Move to a new area
- Parent Coaching
- Parenting by other family members
- Private school
- Psychiatric hospitalization and assessment
- Residential treatment program
- School guidance counselors
- Therapeutic Boarding School
- Wilderness Outdoor Adventure therapeutic programs
- Wilderness therapy programs
- Youth diversion programs
Programs and services for struggling teens can be very expensive.
Some families are able to pay for these programs and services “out of pocket.” Some families have health insurance that pays for all or part of the program, or the public school system may pay the cost. There is a wide range of services and programs run by private and public agencies for struggling teens and their families. Some programs may be available locally; however, some programs may be in other communities or states, which means that the teen must live away from home in order to receive needed services. The choice of intervention, the duration and the competence of those involved are critical factors to insure success.
More than anything, the intervention must be appropriate to the level of risk and responsive to the underlying problem or potential cause. The key is to determine the level of risk and likelihood that problems will continue or escalate.While stabilization and symptom relief are necessary as the first step in many interventions, there must be sufficient structure and follow-up in order to prevent further crisis and to prevent relapse. Parents and family members must keep in mind that an inappropriate intervention may potentially make matters worse and can not only undermine their relationship with their child, but could create another crisis. An inadequate response prolongs the problem and may reduce the likelihood of future intervention succeeding. There is often a cycle to the crisis that teenagers, parents and families experience.
The crisis tends to grow, escalate, subside and resurface in a pattern of increasing emotional, psychological and behavior problems. Brief periods of normalcy are typical in crises involving teenagers. During these periods, teenagers can become more cautious, reflective or sincerely remorseful. Whether the crisis represents a turning point or not will depend on whether or not the appropriate intervention is designed and followed through with.