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A Day in the Life of a Teen in Residential Treatment

A Fictional Teens' Daily Schedule in a RTC

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Quick Links: Troubled Teens | Quiz: Is Your Teen At-Risk?

Parents considering residential treatment for a troubled teen often wonder what daily life will be like for their teen in this type of program. To illustrate how these programs work meet a fictional teen as she spends her day in an adolescent residential treatment center (RTC).

Introduction to Amber - Troubled Teen

At age 15 Amber is participating in the fictional treatment program Helping Teens, where she has been admitted for angry and rebellious behavior. After participating in outpatient therapy for several months she physically threatened a teacher and was expelled from school, leading to her placement in this program.

Amber's Daily Schedule in Residential Treatment

Residential treatment centers are based on a schedule that provides intensive therapy, support and structure to teens. Specific activities and therapies are adjusted based on each teen's presenting problems.

Here's how Amber spends a typical day:

7:00 AM: wake -up

Her room must be cleaned and organized before breakfast. The counselors supervising the unit where she lives evaluate Amber's efforts and she's awarded points based on the results. Earning a high number of points will help her move forward in the phase system.

8:00 AM: breakfast in the cafeteria

The teen residents work together to clear dishes and wipe off tables after the meal is over.

8:30 AM: morning meeting

This daily meeting is held in the unit living area during which residents set a goal for the day and work through any conflicts between residents.

9:00AM- Noon: school

Amber attends school on-site where she gets individualized attention and instruction to get caught up with the academic credits she's missed due to misbehavior in public school.

12:00- 12:45PM: lunch

12:45-1:00PM:supervised break to socialize with other residents

1:00- 2:30PM: group therapy

The same therapist Amber meets with for individual therapy facilitates group therapy sessions attended by residents with similar problems. In daily sessions the residents give and receive help in dealing with the reasons they are in treatment and learning better ways to cope.

2:30- 3:30 PM: recreation therapy

She participates in recreation therapy designed to physically release some of that anger.

3:45- 4:30 PM: art therapy

It's time for art therapy in which she's encouraged to express herself using various art materials. Sometimes residents work on their own projects, other days they work on projects in small groups. Today Amber is asked to create a visual representation of a situation that makes her angry.

4:30- 5:15 PM: free time

Amber has time before dinner to work on her journal and complete homework.

5:15- 5:30 PM: medication

She goes with residents in her unit to the nurse's station to get her medication.

5:30 - 6:15 PM: dinner

6:15- 7:15: family therapy

Family therapy sessions are held weekly. Tonight all family members attend with the discussion focusing on how Amber's siblings are afraid of her.

7:15- 7:45 AM: social time

Amber spends ½ hour socializing with her family with supervision provided by her unit counselors.

7:45- 8:45 PM: therapy education

Tonight an educational program is presented by staff on the topic of social skills.

8:45: bedtime

The exact time is determined by what phase Amber has achieved.

The structure of teen residential programs is a significant aspect of their effectiveness. Different programs will have different resources and emphasis. As of this writing our fictional troubled teen is making steady progress in her treatment.

Quick Links: Troubled Teens | Quiz: Is Your Teen At-Risk?

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