How to Choose the Right Residential Treatment Center for Your Teen
How to Choose the Right Residential Treatment Center for Teens: FAQs
When choosing a residential treatment center for teens, many parents, especially those who have been through other residential programs with their child with unsuccessful outcomes, often have questions regarding the effectiveness of different programs and therapies.
Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about residential treatment centers for teens and also provide specifics about the residential treatment program at Compass Behavioral Health.
#1: Are teens with substance abuse issues combined into the same programs as teens with mood disorders who don’t have substance abuse issues?
Depressed and anxious teens are in a lot of emotional pain and can be highly influenced by their peers, which is why it’s important to ensure that teens with mood disorders aren’t exposed to conversations surrounding mood-altering substances such as marijuana or fentanyl.
While a profit-driven company will mainly care about getting “heads in beds,” regardless of whether certain clinical populations should be in the same program, a purpose-driven company will prioritize a therapeutic program environment, even if it means having a lower census at times.
#2: How do you guarantee that my child will not learn new maladaptive behaviors from their peers while in your program?
Contagion behaviors are a real issue in teen residential treatment. Many teens requiring residential treatment have significant identity dysregulation and are highly influenceable. A quality program should be able to describe its policies and procedures used to keep a program pro-recovery and should prevent teens from bonding around maladaptive behaviors and diagnostic labels.
#3: Do you track your treatment outcomes? If so, can I have access to that information?
It is now considered a standard of care to provide objective evidence of a program’s efficacy using standardized and validated research measures. Most programs provide these at intake and at discharge (before and after). Programs comply with this industry expectation by utilizing one or two measures that are easy to capture some gains on. While this practice glides over the benchmark, it’s inadequate for several reasons. A generalized measure of anxiety or depression will not tell you if trauma symptoms have remitted, if a child’s BPD symptoms have decreased, if emotion regulation skills have objectively improved, or if OCD symptoms have decreased. The larger the battery of assessments used, the easier it is to show the lack of gain in treatment.
#1: Will my child be treated by a licensed therapist?
Residential programs have long controlled costs by utilizing unlicensed clinicians, resulting in the treatment of some of the most complex psychiatric conditions by some of the most inexperienced clinicians.
#2: Can I confirm that the licensed therapist assigned to treat my child is certified in DBT?
Because dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) has gotten a lot of celebrity press and has strong research outcomes, most residential programs advertise that they provide DBT. However, a weekend seminar in adolescent psychiatry isn’t enough training to make a psychiatrist competent in adolescent psychiatry—to show competency, they actually need to complete a two-year fellowship and then pass Child and Adolescent Psychiatry board exams. Similarly, a DBT-Linehan Board Certified Therapist™ has an intensive two-year training process that culminates with passing board certification as proof of competency.
#3: Can I confirm that the licensed clinician assigned to treat my child has had training and experience in treating my child’s diagnosis?
Residential treatment is often needed for complex psychiatric disorders that call for specialized training and certification beyond a graduate degree.
Below, we detail the specific disorders that Compass treats along with the specialized training our licensed clinicians receive to ensure your child receives the most compassionate and effective treatment.
|Specialized Training and Experience of Licensed Clinicians at Compass Behavioral Health|
|Psychiatric Disorder||Specialized Training|
|Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)||Exposure and Response Prevention|
|Purely Obsessional OCD Subtype||Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy|
|Anorexia Nervosa||Management of Eating Disorders – Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (MED-DBT)
Family-Based Therapy for Anorexia Nervosa supplemented by Radically Open-Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
|Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)||Dialectical Behavioral Therapy|
|Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)||Prolonged Exposure DBT|
|Treatment-Resistant Depression||Behavioral Activation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Radically Open-Dialectical Behavioral Therapy|
|Anxiety||Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mastering Anxiety and Panic for Adolescents|
#4: Do you provide families with the training backgrounds of your clinicians?
Both the Board of Psychology and the Board of Behavioral Sciences require clinicians to disclose their background and training to you prior to consenting to services—this is part of informed consent.
#5: Can you describe the average education and training of your floor staff? Do you have biographies online that I can read? Are you willing to share the average length of employment of your floor staff?
If you take away the floor staff, what you have left is a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). program. The floor staff members ARE the residential program. What makes residential so effective is the 24-hour availability of well-trained skills coaches who can effectively catch a teen in a skills breakdown and mentor them through to skills mastery.
Often, you won’t see the biographies of floor staff on a company’s website—this is largely because the average length of employment for a floor staff member is 6-12 months industry-wide. This is caused by poor pay, poor training, and understaffing due to high turnover. It is impossible to have a high-quality residential program with high floor staff turnover.
#1: How many individual therapy sessions will my child receive per week?
Due to the acuity at a residential level of care, your child should have a minimum of two hours of individual therapy per week.
#2: How many family therapy sessions per week does your program support?
At a minimum, a program should offer one family session per week.
#3: Does your program offer DBT skills training in a multi-family format so parents can learn skills too?
All adolescent DBT research is based on this model. If a program does not provide a DBT Multi-Family Skills Training group, they ethically cannot say they are providing DBT.
#4: Does your program have a parent-only group to support parent effectiveness training?
Parents of highly acute teens who are suicidal, self-harming, or have eating disorders need support and specialized training in how to best help their child.
#5 What evidence-based treatments does your program provide in its group programming components?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Group
#Adulting (Chores) Group
Cognitive Behavior Therapy Group
Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Group
Executive Functioning Coaching
Attachment-Focused Multi-Family Group
Interpersonal Effectiveness Group
Individual Skills Coaching
Mindful Cooking & Culinary Lab
Multi-Family Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Group
Mindfulness & Mindful Self-Compassion
Parent Effectiveness Training
Physical Fitness & Yoga
Sleep Hygiene Group
Proven Treatment Outcomes at Compass Behavioral Health
Many of the largest teen residential programs are owned by billion-dollar venture capitalist firms. That’s where we differ. Compass Behavioral Health is an employee-owned organization that fosters the mastery of DBT material in every one of our dedicated team members.
At Compass Behavioral Health, we treat depressed and anxious children and young adults with gold-standard, evidence-based treatments that create mastery, a sense of belonging, and a purposeful life. Our residential program is overseen by clinicians certified by the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification™, meaning only the most experienced therapists and medical staff will provide your child with individualized treatment at our employee-owned facility.
Expedition Leader / Executive Director at Compass. Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
After nearly two decades of working with adolescents struggling with depression, suicidal ideation and other disorders, Cherie noticed a disturbing trend. “When I interviewed the young adults on our psych ward who weren’t getting better, I heard the same statements over and over,” she recalls. “It must be me, I must be too broken to be fixed. Working closely with hundreds of patients and their families, it became clear to Cherie that recovery depended on developing an effective treatment program before patients started to form their identity. “Before their identity literally became ‘depressed and suicidal’,” she says. “Before they developed a mindset that nothing could help or that they were broken, that was when they needed help the most.” It was with these families in mind that Cherie founded Compass Behavioral Health.
This is a passion project for all of us here at Compass, and the knowledge contained above comes from 25 years of referring our outpatient teens to residential care all over the country.
For more information regarding how to choose a residential treatment center for teens, or to inquire about the residential program at Compass, please contact us today for a free consultation.