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The Emotional Phases of Placing a Child in Residential Treatment



If you have a child whose mental health needs are so acute that they required residential treatment, these phases of feelings may resonate with you:

Deciding whether or not to place:

  • Worried that it would make you a "bad parent" to have a child who lives away from you

  • Self-critical that you weren't able to provide what they needed at home

  • Desperate to find anything that will actually work

  • Terrified that you'll get that one phone call that something awful has happened

  • Exhausted from making treatment decisions and wishing that someone could just tell you what the "right" decision is

During their residential treatment:

  • Relieved that they are finally safe, and that you can actually take time for yourself

  • Guilty that you feel so relieved

  • Worried that they'll have to stay permanently

  • Grieving the loss of the things they are missing out on while they're gone

  • Embarrassed and unsure what to tell people in your life about this

Planning for their discharge back home:

  • Excited because you've missed them so much

  • Terrified that the symptoms or behaviors will start back up again

  • Obsessed with planning the "perfect" discharge plan to "guarantee" that there won't be a relapse

  • Helpless because so much of this feels out of your control

  • Optimistic because treatment did seem to help their symptoms

If any of this sounds familiar, that's because you are not alone. I have supported countless families on this incredibly difficult journey, and know that having the right support system in your corner can make or break your ability to manage this process. If you have a child who has been through or might need residential treatment, schedule a free 15-minute consult with me to see if I can support your family.

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