Realization – Real Healing and Change Takes Time
Everyone likes a quick fix. We are all so time oriented and rushing treatment and intervention is short-sighted. To set a time clock or a pre-determined date of completion stymies real growth and lasting change. When faced with any challenge, or unwanted task, most teens will ask “how long do I have to do this?” or in the case of residential treatment “how long will I have to stay there”? Once a time frame is set, most kids will more often than not, just “do time”. Alternatively, if we set milestones and goals for our children, then they are challenged to meet those goals to move forward. This is consistent with all the development processes we have guided our children through – they walk when they are ready, not by specific age, they cross the street when they can do so safely, the graduate from one grade to another not just because the end of the school year arrives, but because they have learned the material that prepares them to move forward, and so on. Why do we not approach treatment in the same way?
Time in program should be discussed in terms of behavior change and goals, instead of just length of time. Another important consideration is that as young people heal and recover, they are learning new life skills and coping strategies. It’s important for any skill to be strengthened, practiced and become rooted in one’s life. New skills (and ways of thinking and responding) need time to take root and become strong enough to be sustained when the teen is no longer in a therapeutic setting.