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Sandstone Care understands the importance of involving and providing support for the entire family, not just the symptomatic member of the family. Often, the teen is the one who is telling the world, "My family needs help!" by acting out and displaying negative behaviors. Through an immersive and experiential program, we are able to provide teens and their families a chance to begin the healing process. Family involvement is difficult and sometimes painful work. However, we believe that this work is crucial in order for treatment to be effective.
A large part of Cascade Canyon’s program includes family involvement. During the course of each teen’s progression through our program, we host a family immersion weekend.
Led by our family therapist, Kaley Chiles LPC & LAC, parents are invited to join their teen for a weekend of information, experiences, and healing. The program is based on the evidence-based belief that family integration into teen treatment is vitally important, and that when the whole family is treated, there are better outcomes for all involved.
The goal of our family immersion weekend is to allow families to explore any emotions they are experiencing, and to remove anything in the family system that is helping to feed the mental health struggles or other behaviors. Each family member is asked to be honest with themselves and their family about the issues that their teen’s mental health, substance use, or trauma has caused them. Through experiential activities, group therapy, and individual sessions, our team works to create opportunities for the whole family to experience healing and overcome any tension or resentment that may be present within the family unit.
By taking an experiential approach, we are encouraging families to get involved and interact with each other in a positive way, even during a stressful time. We utilize activities such as:
These activities aim to bring families together in a way that promotes a healthy family dynamic, where every person is able to make sense of their place and take appropriate responsibility for their role within their family.
Prior to the family immersion weekend, parents participate weekly in their teen's treatment through family therapy sessions that occur via phone or teleconference. During sessions, communication and relationship dynamics are addressed. Teens are provided tools to speak honestly with their parents about what has been going on. Parents are coached and supported by the family therapist to listen and respond appropriately. Emotional regulation techniques are taught so that negative emotions such as anger, frustration and anxiety are experienced and worked through without damaging relationships.
Additionally, the primary therapist connects with parents weekly, providing updates on how the teen is doing in treatment. This includes how the teen is responding to therapy, any medication changes, interactions with other teens there and how much they are participating in activities.
Treatment without family is not effective. When a teen is struggling with anxiety or depression and / or begins using or abusing substances, it doesn’t just affect them, it affects the whole family. This often causes conflict, tension, and dysfunction within the family system. Parents may become co-dependent on another family member or become enablers of their teen’s substance use without even realizing it. When a teen is struggling with mental health or substance abuse, the family dynamic is disrupted, and when they begin to heal, so does the rest of the family.
Our team believes that it is impossible to have an optimal family situation and also be in active addiction or have an unmanaged mental illness, and asks parents to be honest about what their home life is like as well as what their lives have been like leading up to their teen entering treatment. We advocate for one thing above all else: dropping your pride and picking up transparency. Without transparency and openness, it is impossible to allow space for change, and one of the biggest goals of our program is to shift perspective in order to encourage change and understanding for all members of the family.
It’s not uncommon for a teen to be resistant to changing their behaviors and to treatment. Though this presents a challenge to members of the family and treatment team, Sandstone’s clinical team still wants to help.
Putting your teen into treatment takes a lot of courage and can be an extremely difficult decision to cope with. It may cause you to question your decisions or parental abilities. During this time, it's important to make time to take care of yourself. Mental health and substance use carry stigma with them, and Sandstone Care is working hard to dispel the stigma. A hallmark of mental health problems and substance use is isolation and shame.
Sharing with loved ones what is happening with your family may be scary at first, but upon sharing, you learn that you are not alone in the struggle. However, it is important to gather your teen’s input and decide as a family who will be supportive during the recovery process. Together, consider the right approach based on your family dynamics, every family is different. This step may be the most difficult to overcome, but necessary in the healing process for your family as a whole.
During this challenging time, it is not only important for your teen to get the help they need but it is also important that parents get the support they need, in order to create a successful recovery for the whole family unit. Support can come from unlikely places. Getting your own therapist, couples counselor, or finding a local support group for mental health or substance use can be helpful while your teen is with us.
As a parent, you want to do whatever it takes to ensure the wellbeing of your teen. When faced with a challenge, it is easy to become codependent with your teen, living and breathing all the ups and downs of their life. It is also important to live and enjoy a life separate from the challenges they may be facing. Isolating yourself may feel like the only thing you can do, but it is crucial to make time for yourself. This does not make you an unsupportive parent, but rather, a parent who is supportive in a healthy way. Both teens and parents need time to grow and flourish as individuals during the healing process.
Starting the conversation is the best first step. We are here to help in any way possible.