When finding a residential treatment center (RTC) for a loved one (or for yourself), there are crucial questions that need answers. You worry about and care for your loved one and don’t want to put them into a bad situation. Do these treatment centers have licensed professionals working with them? Are there former satisfied residents? What types of treatments and therapies do they focus on: conventional therapies (such as cognitive behavioral therapy), unconventional (animal-assisted therapy), or a combination of both?
My Experience with an RTC
While studying psychology in Utah, I worked at a residential treatment center for adolescent boys with mental, social, emotional, and learning problems. While there I interacted with boys with depression, anxiety, bipolar, autism, Asperger’s, adolescent schizophrenia, and more. I worked with the boys, their parents, and therapists in order to best understand and help the boys. Unfortunately, not every treatment center is as good as I believed this one to be. I had friends who worked at other treatment centers whose treatment was more about discipline than health promotion. That is why it’s important to look for the following six things while searching for the best residential treatment center for your loved one:
Find a Treatment Center
- Therapists: Along with having correct licensure, make sure the facility has therapists capable of meeting the specific needs of the individual. This may include addiction and mental health counselors in some cases, and a psychiatrist for prescribing medication if necessary.
- Health care professional: Make sure an in-house health care professional (i.e., a registered nurse) is on staff to treat minor ailments or is able to identify when more attention is needed. Additionally, all staff should be trained in first aid and CPR.
- Staff: When it comes to staff, the important thing is knowing how involved they are with the residents. Most staff members realize how important their roles are to the safety and health of those they look after.
- Proper training: Incorporated in this is CPR/first aid, but most treatment centers have certain protocol for dangerous or threatening situations. Often this includes a restraining system. It is important to understand the basics of and the reasons for such restraining systems. Some systems aren’t as “kind” as others, so be aware of what system each treatment center uses and how it affects the residents.
- Education: If your loved one is at school level, make sure the treatment centers have accredited schooling and licensed teachers. While your loved one’s health is the most important part of treatment, keeping them in school adds to their treatment and keeps them from falling behind in their studies.
- Alternative therapies: Not every person needs the same treatment. Having a range of treatment techniques is the best way to treat any need. Some treatment centers have recreational therapy, equine therapies, and similar others. Each plays its own part, but combining these therapies with cognitive therapy may be the best way to approach treatment.
Although it is never easy, knowing the answers to these six points will make the hard decision a little easier.
- University of New England. Social Work and Animal-Assisted Therapies. Retrieved from http://socialwork.une.edu/resources/news/social-work-and-animal-assisted-therapy/
- Wake Forest University. Many Faces of Counseling. Retrieved from http://counseling.online.wfu.edu/resources/infographics/many-faces-of-counseling/
Marcus Oakes is a recent graduate in psychology and is currently studying for a master’s in forensic psychology. His desire to help people is his main aspiration in life and hopes his writings will fit into that aspiration.
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