When children and adolescents are battling addictions to drugs or alcohol, there are unique aspects that must be included into the care they receive. Their stage of life and development must be accounted for when creating treatment plans that will be of greatest benefit to them. Part of this includes incorporating educational components into their care so that they are able to receive treatment that helps them overcome their addictions while not being at risk for falling behind academically.
In order to provide this type of comprehensive care, there are treatment centers that offer programming for children and adolescents through therapeutic day schools. These therapeutic day schools offer treatment that provides individualized attention to the cognitive, behavioral, and academic needs of young people. Educational curriculums in these programs are customized so that each child or adolescent is able to receive care that meets his or her exact needs and elicits positive treatment outcomes.
Children and adolescents who are struggling with substance abuse and addiction often simultaneously suffer from emotional, social, or behavioral problems that are either a direct result of their abuse of drugs or alcohol, or are symptomatic of co-occurring mental health concerns. These concerns can greatly hinder their abilities to excel academically. As such, therapeutic day schools combine educational programming with therapeutic interventions and treatment modalities that allow young people to thrive in recovery.
The particular interventions that are offered in therapeutic day schools will inevitably vary from one treatment center to the next, but many will offer some, or all, of the following:
- Individual therapy
Individual therapy provides young people with the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a counselor, therapist, or social worker who specializes in the treatment of children and adolescents. The frequency of these sessions will vary, but may be offered daily, twice per week, or once per week, typically being based on the youth’s specific needs. During these sessions, children and adolescents can process through their progress in treatment, address particular struggles that they are facing, and learn ways to better communicate so that they can excel in their recovery.
- Group therapy
Group therapy offers children and adolescents a unique opportunity to come together with other young people who may be struggling with the same types of concerns. Led by a trained professional, these sessions often focus on particular topics that are pertinent to the recovery of those participating in the group. They can provide young people with an opportunity to receive education on addiction, learn from the experiences of others, and give support and encouragement to their peers. These sessions can benefit young people in not only helping them in their own recovery, but also in helping them learn to accept those who are experiencing challenges of their own. Group therapy sessions can also be extremely beneficial in helping youth learn appropriate and effective ways of communicating.
- Experiential therapy
Many therapeutic day schools offer experiential therapy opportunities in a variety of avenues. Examples of various types of experiential therapies can include, but are not limited to, the following:
Recreational therapy provides youth with a chance to engage in activities that are designed to encourage teamwork, build a sense of community, and guide children and adolescents towards appropriately and effectively communicating with one another and working together.
Art therapy allows youth to express themselves through various forms of media, including painting, coloring, crafts, and other types of artistic activities. This can be a wonderful outlet for allowing young people to express frustrations, fears, and emotional struggles, as well as positive experiences and successes.
Music therapy is another way for youth to express themselves through an outlet outside of traditional talk therapy. Music therapy can include anything from singing, dancing, playing instruments, or simply listening to music.
In addition, many therapeutic day schools offer occupational therapy and speech therapy as options for care that can be included into a child or adolescent’s treatment plan, depending on each youth’s specific needs and treatment goals.
- Medication management
While not all young people who engage in treatment at a therapeutic day school will require pharmaceutical intervention, there are some instances in which it may be appropriate. If a child or adolescent is suffering from a co-occurring mental health condition in an addition to a substance use disorder, he or she may benefit from certain medications that can alleviate distressing symptoms and regulate functioning. When such an intervention is needed, psychiatrists can prescribe those medications and trained staff members within the therapeutic day school can administer and monitor them.
- Clinical staffings
In order to keep parents, caregivers, or guardians informed of a child or adolescent’s progress in treatment, there will typically be meetings held on an ongoing, consistent basis. Often referred to as clinical staffings, these meetings will also include all members of the youth’s treatment team. In many cases, there will also be a representative from the youth’s home school in attendance as well so that the transition out of the therapeutic day school and back into the child or adolescent’s home school can be accomplished seamlessly.
The educational components offered in therapeutic day schools are designed to help children and adolescents stay on track academically while they receive the treatment they need. Certified special education teachers are most commonly employed in order to ensure that young people are receiving the academic guidance and therapeutic care that will help them achieve their treatment goals. Individualized education programs, or IEPs, are typically formed by the youth’s home school and adhered to while the child or adolescent is in attendance at a therapeutic day school. These IEPs ensure that there is a continuity of care that continues from the home school, into the therapeutic day school, and then back to the home school once treatment is completed.
If you have a child or adolescent in your care who is struggling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, seeking treatment at a therapeutic day school can be of optimal benefit in helping him or her overcome his or her addiction while allowing him or her to stay on track academically.