Last week in Step #2 I gave some examples of when to seek counseling if you suspect your adolescent son is in trouble. You have tried setting boundaries & limits with him from Step #1, and you’ve enlisted the help of a licensed professional counselor; it didn’t work either.
Now it’s time for Step #3.
Step #3=Intensive Outpatient
If you find yourself at wit’s end, nothing has worked, it’s time to get your son in an intensive outpatient program. It isn’t as scary as it sounds, and more importantly if you want to save your son from continuing down the wrong path, this step is crucial.
When I began promoting The Quest Project® I was warned using the description “intensive outpatient (which is what it is)” may make a parent nervous. You know how I responded to that? GOOD! If your son is out of control and displaying dangerous behavior, you should be nervous and get him in a program that can address it.
Some examples of unacceptable behavior are these.
- Yelling, screaming and slamming doors.
- Failing grades and lack of interest in school.
- Drinking alcohol.
- Smoking pot.
- Parents and siblings are afraid.
- Isolated from family.
- Addictive behavior (technology, pornography etc.).
- Self-destructive behavior i.e., cutting, suicidal ideation.
In intensive outpatient programs counselors are trained and familiar with these behaviors. The program should be a wake-up call to the adolescent boy and provide him an action plan to get his life under control. Intensive outpatient programs are usually in a group setting for maximum effect. Group therapy is the most powerful form of change therapy!
Look for a program that teaches responsibility, accountability and personal integrity. It should include discovering and healing old wounds that are causing pain. Coping and communication skills. Healthy lifestyle choices and anger management just to name a few.
If The Quest Project (my first choice!) is not an option for you, do the research to find a program in your area that specializes in working primarily with adolescent boys. Next make sure they offer group therapy that addresses the behaviors mentioned above, in other words, not just focused on “stabilization.”
This is a crucial time and must be addressed quickly, don’t wait and hope it’ll get better on its own. Don’t put it off because you’re too busy or it interferes with other plans. This third step is the difference in your son becoming a healthy young man, or living in your basement smoking pot and playing video games when he’s 26 years old with no motivation or direction. Or worse, he’s incarcerated for making bad choices.
Next week, the final step, when Steps 1, 2 and 3 have not worked.