Many adolescents struggle with behavioral problems in their teen years. That isn’t unusual as they seek the right footing on their quest for independence. But some can get stuck in an anti-social mode of living — struggling with authority figures, failing in school, and gravitating toward self-destructive coping mechanisms such as substance abuse and dangerous thrill-seeking pursuits. As adolescent hormones rage, teens can also fall into depression or anxiety, family and social problems, and some may even become hopeless and suicidal. Such youth may benefit from being taken away from their current surroundings and peers to spend a period of time in a therapeutic group home.
In a group home, troubled teens have access to the professional care and therapy they need to get back on track, emotionally and academically. Typically, a struggling teen will be more successful in a group home located outside of their home state, where running away and reconnecting with bad influences is less likely. In an entirely new, removed environment, group home residents can recognize and work on their negative and out-of-control behaviors through the combination of therapy and positive relationships.
Group homes are private residences that prioritize the security, structure, and supervision of their residents and operate in a boarding school style. However, they are generally less restrictive than traditional therapeutic boarding schools or residential treatment programs. For this reason, enrollment in a group home is regarded as a favorable early intervention plan.
Members of a group home program live together and support one another, with behavioral professionals’ supervision, in what is called peer-to-peer “life-coaching,” a therapy style that emphasizes the importance of a strong sense of community as instrumental to battling mental issues. The opportunity to be welcomed into a family dynamic makes the group home experience uniquely conducive to rehabilitation.
Group home programs recognize the indispensable role increased confidence plays in long-term recovery from mental illness, substance abuse, eating disorders, and other behavioral problems. In a group home setting, troubled teens can regain their emotional footing by developing their social skills, occupational skills, and general life skills. A group home program aims to prepare your teen to transition to adulthood, free from reliance upon anything but their own independence and newly developed healthy coping mechanisms.
Your loved one will be welcomed into a caring, familial environment in a group home and will be expected to help maintain the household. By completing chores, cooking, and cleaning, residents learn the importance of caring for and taking responsibility internally and externally. Once a resident has proven that they are capable of shouldering certain responsibilities, they are rewarded with greater privileges, a system which significantly bolsters their self-esteem and confidence in their abilities.
No two struggling adolescents are identical; the same is true of their respective treatment needs. To account for the individual nature of behavioral problems, group homes often curate specialized treatment programs tailored to address each teen’s unique behavioral problems. These individualized treatment programs may incorporate a range of therapies, such as:
- Family Therapy: Sessions may include parents, siblings, or other family members residing in the same household as the troubled
- Individualized Therapy: Usually takes place in the form of a one-on-one therapy session with a mental health professional and is often referred to as the most traditional form of
- Milieu Therapy: Small group therapy, which typically involves structured living within a community that prioritizes communication and May include wilderness therapy, equine therapy, etc.
Recovery is a multifaceted process, ultimately focused on preparing residents to transition out of the group home and flourish in their normal lives. To this end, reputable groups homes offer a range of activities, including but certainly not limited to:
- Individual and group therapy sessions with licensed professionals
- Opportunities to take classes with certified teachers for credit and to work toward a high school diploma
- Recreational therapy—sports, music, art, hiking,
- Classes focused on practical skills—cooking, laundering, woodwork,
- The training is focused on the eventual transition into the real world once again
Group homes provide a safe, supportive space free from unhealthy relationships with friends, teachers, and family members. In fact, rapid improvement in troubled teens is quite common in group homes, evidence of how influential a nurturing environment created by trained professionals can be.
By cultivating a new sense of self-awareness in troubled teens, group homes encourage introspection rather than correction, which results in long-lasting effects rooted in understanding rather than formulaic applications of right and wrong. The replacement of the negative influences of daily life with the support of mentors and a structured therapy plan equips troubled teens with the tools to heal and ultimately thrive.
Allowing troubled teens to explore their emotional and behavioral issues in a controlled, non-judgemental environment with the support of mentors, group homes teach struggling adolescents how to release their negative emotions in positive ways rather than amplifying the negative feelings with negative behaviors, a vicious cycle that traps the teen and their loved ones. Recovery from risky behaviors and emotional issues takes time, but enrollment in a group home is the first step. Parents may rest assured knowing their hurting child is receiving the help they need to blossom into the independent young person they have always had the potential to be.
If you are experiencing trouble at home with your pre-teen or young teen and have not seen improvement with traditional forms of teen counseling, enrollment in a group home may be a good next step.
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