What happens during the program?
After you enroll in the RGTS program, we will assign a qualified and invested therapist to work with your child, family, and community. He/she will try to contact you and your child before your child comes home from his wilderness or residential treatment center, whenever possible. Or, if your child is already home, the therapist will contact you and set up a first meeting. Sometimes the first meeting (and only the first meeting) will take place at the therapist’s office while you get to know one another.
But the core feature of our program is that the work is largely done in your own home and community. That is where your child has struggled in the past; that is where the change needs to happen. So your therapist will come into your home for as many as eight hours a week to provide individual and family therapy, observation, processing, and coaching. Your therapist will also contact (with your authorization) key members of your child’s community, including teachers, peers, coaches, spiritual advisors, etc. and will work with them to develop a strong network of support and encouragement for your child as he/she works to meet those goals that you will establish together (client, family, and therapist) during your first sessions in Phase I.
You will also be asked to complete several “therapeutic assignments” either 1:1 with your child or as a whole family unit, and those experiences will be explored as part of your clinical treatment. Also, each week you will spend 1/2 hour in a telephone conference with a supervisor from RGTS who will be assigned to address any questions or concerns that may arise. Finally, between your therapist and your RGTS supervisor, someone will be available to you 24/7 to help with crisis intervention and management.
How long does the program last?
Our program is based on a 12-week model. We have several plans available, with varying levels of intensity, so that you can choose the program that best suits your family’s needs.
Who will be our therapist?
We contract with therapists who live and work near your home to be the direct service providers for our program. We have already identified therapists in several major US markets; however, if we receive an application from a new area, we consult with the client, educational consultants in that region, and nearby universities and clinics to identify local therapists who might have the background and skills that we require for our program. We will even work with your specific insurance panel in an effort to find an in-network therapist for you if you ask us to! Once we’ve identified a potential therapist for the program, we require him/her to complete a comprehensive application and professional license verification. We train all our therapists to use our treatment model because research tells us that compliance with our program design will yield positive and productive results for you, our client.
What makes your program unique?
Our program is different from other programs you may find available to you on several different levels. First, unlike many traditional “aftercare” programs, ours meets you in your own home and community. We work with you on the front lines of your life, where the real action happens. We don’t bring you into an office or ask you to attend therapy online. Instead, we forge a personal, therapeutic relationship that demands transparency and allows for a high degree of disclosure.
Another unique feature of our program is our clinical emphasis. While most transitional or aftercare programs focus on goal-setting and system planning (and we work on these things, too), we believe that therapeutic interventions are equally critical to your success. We include individual and family therapy as part of your weekly regimen because we believe in its power to help you identify internal struggles that may be interfering with your external goals.
Finally, we believe firmly in the positive value of a strong client-therapist relationship. We focus on a therapeutic triangle that includes (1) a client who is motivated to succeed, (2) a therapist who is invested in seeing her client succeed, and (3) and strong bond between therapist and client that is built on trust and mutual goals. Our program is designed to promote a strong client-therapist bond, because we believe that life’s challenges are more manageable when we know that we aren’t facing them alone.
When should we enroll?
We believe that the most critical element for success must be the relationship that exists between the therapist and the client. For this reason, we encourage you to enroll in the program 30 days before your child returns home from his/her wilderness or residential treatment program. This length of time allows us to establish a contractual relationship with a therapist that will best fit your needs, help you get everything ready and established that the program and transition requires, and gives the therapist time to contact the program and possibly your child before he/she comes home, thus forging a critical bond that will carry through the rest of the program, which will significantly contribute towards a successful outcome. We understand that often the decision to pursue aftercare is a last-minute one. In that case, complete your enrollment paperwork as quickly as possible. Our experience tells us that youth begin to “dip” emotionally quickly after returning home; at this point the “honeymoon” has ended and life might return to limit-testing, accompanied by more regular patterns that may or may not be conducive to healthy behaviors.
Can you guarantee success?
Success is all too often measured in the outcome, rather than in the day-to-day experiences and processes. Can we guarantee that you or your child will no longer have problems? Of course not. Also, without struggles and problems, we likely wouldn’t grow and evolve. If you as a family are able approach old problems in a new way, if you are willing to measure success by your ability to work together, increase love for one another, improve communication, develop new skills, gain wisdom and experience, face and overcome old fears, then that is success. You and your child are going have struggles over the next 12-weeks and beyond. Some struggles may be too difficult to manage. Humans, especially adolescents, are impossible to predict! We wish that we could guarantee success. Unfortunately, psychological, behavioral, and emotional issues are complex. Just as a medication may work for one person and not for another, all therapies will ultimately work for some clients and not for others.
What we do know is that our program is grounded in a treatment approach with proven success. We know from studies conducted over the past ten years that the principles of MST, which we apply in our program, lead to decreased suicide attempts, decreased (by up to 75%!) days of subsequent residential or hospital placement, increased school attendance, and increased family cooperation and communication.
Of course, there will be struggles. Your child is going to have some difficult days. He or she will not be able to navigate through this transition alone. Your family’s continued growth and change will come with your resolve that everyone in the system will require change and adjustment, not just your son or daughter. Parents and children will continue to progress together when growth is realized in the process and in the struggle. We will be there with you to support and help guide you through this.