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Questions When Finding Safe Treatment

Resources / Finding Safe Treatment / Questions To Ask

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Treatment Center for Your Teen

As a parent, deciding to seek treatment for your child can be one of the most challenging decisions you will ever make. We understand the strength, courage, and hope it takes to make this choice. Our team of caring experts is here to support you every step of the way. You will never be alone on this journey, as we are dedicated to helping you and your family find healing and hope.

Below, we include a list of questions to ask the admissions counselor of any treatment center you consider for your adolescent.

General

Here are some general questions to keep in mind overall when speaking to treatment centers.

  • Is your program fully licensed and/or accredited

  • What is the average length of stay at your program?

  • Do you have nursing on-site? If so, how many hours per day?

  • Which insurance plans do you accept, and how does coverage work?

  • What happens if my insurance company stops covering the residential level of care, but my child is not ready to be discharged?

  • Can we take a tour of the facility if we wish to beforehand?

  • Can we take a tour of the facility if we wish to beforehand?

  • What are the rules about visitation and contact with others?

  • Will I be allowed to take my teen out for certain appointments?

  • How will you handle my teen’s schoolwork?

  • Can you provide me with a packing and contraband list?

  • What are your policies around personal electronics and internet?

  • Will my teen be sharing a room?

  • Does your program welcome LGBTQ+ teens?

  • Does your program incorporate religion into treatment?

  • Can you accommodate my teen’s specific diet/allergies?

  •  

Clinical

Here is a list of questions to ask the admissions counselor of any treatment center you consider.

  • Do you treat primary mental health issues, primary substance abuse, or are you a dual diagnosis treatment center?

  • If it’s a drug rehab center, does your program provide medical detox?

  • How often will my teen see their therapist individually? How long is each session

  • How many clients does each therapist have on their caseload?

  • Is there a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist on staff?

  • If so, how often will my teen meet with him/her?

  • Which primary modalities do you use?

  • What are your therapists’ credentials?

  • How do you incorporate the family in treatment?

  • Do you offer family therapy? If so, how many sessions a week?

  • Which family members are encouraged to participate in family therapy?

  • How do you conduct family therapy if we are not local?

  • Which experiential therapies do you offer?

  • When my teen is ready to discharge, what happens next? Do you help with aftercare? If so, how?

  •  

Safety

You must be direct when it comes to asking about safety. Being entrusted to the care of adolescents is an enormous responsibility that no treatment center should take lightly. If you have a treatment-resistant or unwilling teen, or a teen with self-harming or suicidal tendencies, it’s vital to ask about the following safety policies and protocols.

How do you monitor the teens?

  • Are teens within staff’s line-of sight and line-of-hearing at all times?
  • Are teens monitored by awake overnight staff? If so, how often do the staff members conduct bed checks, and how is this ensured?

 

How do you ensure that the house is free of potentially dangerous objects?

  • Are all potentially dangerous objects under lock and key?
  • Are rooms locked at all times when they are not in use?
  • Do you conduct room checks, contraband checks, and sharps counts regularly?

 

What behavior modification strategies will you use with my child?

  • Do you use physical restraint? What circumstances will lead to staff using physical restraint?
  • If you do not utilize restraint, how do you handle an escalating teen who may become a danger to themselves or others?
  • If you have a motivational level system, how does it work?

Further Questions

  • What is the staff-to-client ratio?

  • Are licensed staff on call 24/7?

  • Do you use surveillance cameras?

  • Are all staff required to pass Live Scan background checks?

  • Is your facility locked or unlocked?

  • Do you do drug testing? If so, how frequently?

  • How do you maintain safety during off-site excursions?

  • Are all staff certified in CPR, First Aid, and Water Safety?

  • How close are you to emergency services in the event of a medical emergency?

  • What protocols do you implement if a teen tries to run away?

Wilderness Therapy

Wilderness programs operate under a different set of guidelines than most adolescent treatment centers. To ensure a wilderness program is appropriate for a teen who needs evidence-based treatment for mental health or substance use issues, parents should read the Licensing and Accreditation, Staff-Patient Ratio, Staff Qualifications, Monitoring Methods, and Behavior Modification sections that appear before these question sets. When talking with a representative from wilderness program, ask questions such as:

Is your program fully licensed and accredited to provide mental health and substance use treatment services?

Are staff trained and certified mental health or addiction counselors/therapists?

Does your program include on-call psychiatrists or psychiatric nurses?

Since the wilderness introduces a new level of safety issues, it’s crucial to ask additional safety questions such as:​

  • What are your wilderness-specific safety protocols?

  • What happens in the case of a non- psychiatric medical emergency?

  • What are your emergency medical evacuation plans?

  • Are staff trained in Wilderness First Aid?

  • Are staff Wilderness First Responder Certified (WFR) or Wilderness EMT Certified (Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician)?

  • How are meals handled and prepared?

  • How do you make sure the kids have everything they need to be safe in the outdoors?

  • Are basic needs restricted while in the wilderness?

  • How is water distribution handled, to ensure teens are always safely hydrated?

  • How far do kids hike?

  • How do you ensure kids are safe from extreme temperatures, weather conditions, and wildlife?

  • Are staff trained to manage behavioral or psychiatric emergencies in the wilderness?

  • How much evidence-based individual psychiatric care will my teen receive?

  • Ask all treatment questions from the Clinical Questions section above.

  • What are your behavior modification strategies?

  • Ask all behavior modification questions from the Safety Questions section above.

Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Therapeutic boarding schools – like wilderness programs – operate under a different set of guidelines than most adolescent treatment centers. To ensure a program is appropriate for a teen who needs evidence-based treatment for mental health or substance use issues, parents should read the Licensing and Accreditation, Staff-Patient Ratio, Staff Qualifications, Monitoring Methods, and Behavior Modification sections that appear before these question sets.

  • Is your program fully licensed and accredited to provide mental health and substance use treatment services?
  • What academic curriculum do you use? Is it internet/computer based?
  • How many students are in a class?
  • Do you have certified/licensed teachers, and are the academics accredited?
  • Do you award high school diplomas or offer credits that can be transferred to other schools?
  • Do you offer help with learning disabilities or special education?
  • Ask all the questions from the Clinical and Safety question sets above.

Considerations When Choosing Treatment

When doing your research, it’s vital to ensure any treatment center you consider has strong safety protocols in place to protect your child. Do your due diligence and ask as many questions as you can about the program

Level of Care Definitions

Finding the treatment option that best meets the needs of your child and your family can be challenging. The following information aims to reduce confusion about the types of treatment available and offers a list of considerations to keep in mind when choosing the best program for your child.

More Questions? Reach Out Now.