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Aster's avatar

Doctors or yourself: which would you trust with a troubled teenage boy?

Asked by Aster (19949points) October 25th, 2014

If you were called upon to take up raising a sixteen year old boy with multiple problems, not physical ones but drug/anger/anxiety issues would you trust yourself and your reluctant s/o to help him more than you would some sort of doctor? And if you chose a doctor, what kind would you use? Thank you.

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10 Answers

janbb's avatar

Are those really two viable alternatives? What kind of outside doctor would be willing to raise a troubled kid? I would think the raising would redound to the family members but certainly the addition of therapy with a good mental health provider (either a social worker or a psychologist) would be important.

Aster's avatar

I wasn’t clear. I meant would you trust only yourself to help him as opposed to keeping him plus sending him to some kind of doctor? I didn’t mean a doctor would raise him.

janbb's avatar

I think you would want outside support, yes.

keobooks's avatar

I would get as many varieties of outside support as possible. Doctors aren’t the only option.

zenvelo's avatar

Sounds to me like he needs a family to support his working with a good child psychologist or family therapist, on e who can work with a child focused psychiatrist.

snowberry's avatar

Anyone who takes such a child on would be well served to document everything they do for him to help him. That’s because it’s common for such a child to get into trouble of the sort that social services and/or a judge would be involved. They really like to see a paper trail, because it shows them how responsible the guardian is, what’s already been done to help the kid, and so on. There’s nothing like a paper trail to make things clear.

Edit: So my answer is, both. Sending the child to professionals of all sorts, and documenting each encounter can keep the guardian out of hot water with the law.

Buttonstc's avatar

I would assume that the most critical issue to address would be the drugs.

And this is where professional help is definitely needed. I mean as in: some type of inpatient rehab center or a quality wilderness therapy program.

He needs to be someplace where he is separated from his druggie friends and no longer has access to drugs. Once his head clears a bit, then is the time to do the introspective work necessary to figure out WHY he chose to escape (rather than coping with life) through drugs.

It’s only two short years before you will have zero legal leverage in that regard since he will no longer be underage.

At this point in time, he can be placed in a therapeutic environment upon the signature of an adult without his consent. Once he is eighteen, that option is off the table.

If it were me, I’d place him in a wilderness therapy program through the Aspen Education group. They’ve been doing this for over thirty years and are very highly regarded and reputable professionals.

They also have inpatient rehab facilities but the wilderness program is specifically designed to reach teens.

Read up on it at their website and check out their reputation for yourself.

Buttonstc's avatar

Here’s another site which gives info on numerouspther programs available for help for teens with problems.

linguaphile's avatar

@Aster My family sent our kid to a wilderness therapy program. Here are some examples of this kind of program.
Open Sky
Red Cliff Ascent
Second Nature
New Vision

Your question is a very valid one—one that my husband and I asked ourselves for a year. His son began to act up, break the law, use drugs, disappear—he was only 14 when he started doing all these things. We did everything we could to work with him- read books, consulted resources, talked with each other for hours about possible solutions, tried all kinds of approaches and strategies—it got to the point where we had to accept that his needs were outside our abilities.

We had to accept that our desire to help/work with him was greater than our true ability to help/work with him.

That’s when we decided to consult outside sources for help. The question is—which outside sources are the best. That’s very individual to the child himself.

The boy’s mother took him to a therapist but the boy found it amusing and a waste of time. We had the police sit down and talk with him. Didn’t work. We put him in an intervention program at school. Didn’t work. When he got charged with a felony for possession of acid and had no remorse, that was it.

We realized his needs were way beyond our capabilities or even the capabilities of the resources we could access. So. Wilderness Therapy it was. We chose wilderness therapy because it teaches practical skills without much ‘downtime.’ Many in-house programs seem to have too much downtime for our comfort. He’s been there for almost a month and we are getting positive reports. The challenge and deal-breaker will be the after-care he receives.

When you say “doctor…” it depends on what kind of doctor you’re looking for. If you’re thinking about an MD, then the only thing they can do is prescribe drugs or refer you elsewhere. If you’re talking about a psychiatrist- the same applies. If you’re talking about a counselor, therapist, interventionist, or a program—that’s more of what would benefit. I would make sure they specialize in teenagers and whatever area of need (addiction, depression, ADHD, etc) the boy has. Those are the best people to get resources and information from. Every kid is different and responds to intervention differently.

If you bring this boy into your home, you might be saving his life but you and your s/o need to take care of yourselves as well. Use all the resources you can access. Your sanity will thank you for having those resources. If and when you feel your capacities have been exceeded, keep in mind you’re not alone. Hugs and best wishes.

snowberry's avatar

@linguaphile Well said. We went a similar route with our son. Wilderness therapy was part of a larger program for our son, and we only sent him for the minimum (I think) of 2 months because we couldn’t afford more. After that it was Teen Challenge. Together they really turned life around for him.

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