When a teen needs help overcoming serious behavioral issues, parents may consider enrolling their child in a residential behavioral treatment facility or program. Parents can choose between a short-term and long-term residential treatment program.
Short-term behavioral treatment programs generally last a few weeks. The programs often take place in a hospital environment, and enrolled teens undergo intensive treatment schedules under the supervision of medical staff. After a several-week treatment period, the teen typically begins an outpatient care plan.
While a short-term treatment program can be beneficial for some teens, it is not always a solution for everyone. A disadvantage with this option is that it only lasts a few weeks, and some teenagers may require a longer stay to make lasting behavioral changes. Additionally, the hospital environment can, at times, feel less comfortable than a residential living space for teens in crisis.
Long-term behavioral treatment programs, like the therapeutic programs at Shepherd’s Hill Academy, provide an alternative to or next step from short-term programs. At Shepherd’s Hill Academy, teens enroll in a residential programs that lasts between 12 to 18 months. The teenagers live in a community-based environment, which can feel more similar to home when compared to a traditional hospital setting. Teenagers who complete the program have had at least a year to practice the new skills they have learned, which affords them a more positive prognosis for lasting behavioral change.
Below, we cover additional advantages that long-term programs at Shepherd’s Hill Academy have over some short-term programs.
Key advantages of long-term behavioral health programs
After their child returns from a short-term therapeutic behavioral facility, they may not show lasting behavioral changes. In these circumstances, some parents seek long-term care for their son or daughter. In addition to achieving more lasting behavioral changes, long-term behavioral health facilities can have several key advantages over short-term programs.
First, many long-term behavioral health facilities also double as a boarding school. While receiving ongoing therapeutic care, the teenager is also able to continue their schooling at the same time. After a teenager completes a long-term program, they can make a smooth transition into a more traditional classroom environment. Facilitating this smooth transition is key for establishing lasting behavioral change.
Additionally, counselors and mental health professionals can develop deeper relationships with each teenager during a long-term program. In short-term programs, the teenager may remain detached and may shelter behind defensive barriers that are ultimately unhelpful for achieving behavioral goals. During long-term programs, the treatment center’s professionals can build lasting rapport and trust with each teen. This deeper relationship allows the treatment center’s professionals to better understand each teen’s core values, motivations, and fears.
Finally, during long-term programs, teenagers can form meaningful bonds with other enrolled teenagers. In a recent article in Women’s Fitness Magazine on the benefits of long-term residential care, Elise Thrift, the Clinical Director at Shepherd’s Hill Academy, notes the importance of bonds between each teenager. Thrift states, “The other youth are just as much a part of our therapy and healing as the staff [members] are.” During collaborative activities with their peers, residents at the programs like Shepherd’s Hill Academy can develop self-regulation skills, and this “positive peer-pressure” is key to achieving lasting behavioral changes.
The Shepherd’s Hill Academy difference
Clinicians have become increasingly aware that for most adolescents and adults, behavioral health treatment is most effective in the setting of a long-term residential treatment centers and programs. As a result, the number of long-term care behavioral health facilities across the United States has increased in recent years. So, what makes Shepherd’s Hill Academy stand out from the rest?
One important difference is that Shepherd’s Hill Academy is a Christ-centered behavioral health program. Shepherd’s Hill Academy residents enjoy a welcoming and faith-based environment while receiving empirically sound treatment interventions from licensed clinicians. We have found that the spiritual and redemptive qualities of a Christ-centered approach allow our residents to find motivation and meaning in achieving their behavioral goals.
However, while Shepherd’s Hill Academy is a Christ-centered facility, note that we wholeheartedly welcome teenagers of all faiths. We believe that each teen should receive respect for their individuality, and we do not force our belief system on anyone.
Another important difference is that Shepherd’s Hill Academy is in a rural environment, and the facility offers a wilderness therapy component for boys and girls. Our wilderness therapy component can help troubled teens disconnect from technology and stop addictive behaviors associated with video games and social media. Additionally, resident teens learn to enjoy the challenges of wilderness living, and many say that the experience helped create the “best year of their life.”
How to learn if Shepherd’s Hill Academy is right for your family
While the decision to enroll your child in a long-term behavioral health facility may not be an easy one, know that you do not have to make that decision alone. The team at Shepherd’s Hill Academy is here to help you and your family make a decision that is productive for everyone involved.
To get started, an easy first step is to take our “Do you have a troubled teen?” quiz. The quiz will help both your family and our staff determine if Shepherd’s Hill Academy is the right place for your teen. Click here to take the “Do you have a troubled teen?” quiz now.