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How do I Choose the Best Adolescent Residential Treatment Center?

By Lori Smith
Updated May 17, 2024
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A number of factors may influence your decision about the type of adolescent residential treatment center you ultimately choose for your child. Troubled teens with behavioral problems, such as aggression, may benefit from a center that specializes in anger management. If drug and alcohol use or addiction is the problem, then a facility with a substance abuse program may be more suitable. Depending on your financial situation and available insurance, cost may be a considerable factor as well.

Some insurance companies limit the number of days a patient can be enrolled in any type of mental health facility. It is important to understand what your insurance company is willing to pay. Be sure to fulfill any requirements they have prior to enrolling your child in an adolescent residential treatment center. Failure to follow its guidelines, such as obtaining a physician referral, may result in a denial of coverage. If that happens, you could be responsible for the entire bill.

If you do not have insurance, and your financial situation precludes paying costly premiums to a private facility, a government-funded adolescent residential treatment center might be the best option for your child. Many times, however, these facilities do not offer the same level of individual attention. Furthermore, they are often over-crowded.

Regardless of your financial and insurance situation, you should schedule an appointment to visit and tour a few facility options, if possible. Ask to meet with the counselors who will be working with your child. Inquire about the philosophy of the adolescent residential treatment center and what methods it uses to affect change in troubled teenagers. If the beliefs of the center’s therapists parallel yours, it might be a good fit for your teen.

Usually, treatment includes ongoing psychological counseling. Many facilities offer private, individual sessions in addition to group therapy. The frequency and duration of each session may vary. You should ask what type of rehabilitation plan may be developed for your child, and how his or her progress will be monitored, evaluated, and reported.

Other important issues that should be clarified in advance can include the facility’s policies on visitation and phone calls while your teen is enrolled in the program. Many times, an adolescent residential treatment center will restrict visitors — including parents — from seeing the child for the first few weeks, while he or she acclimates to the program. Additionally, phone calls could be limited, or not permitted at all, during the initial stages of treatment. This is a common regulation, but one you should be aware of ahead of time, when selecting a facility.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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