As Licensed Marriage and Family therapists, we are committed to helping teens, young adults, and their families gain mastery of their emotional experiences. However, throughout our combined careers, we are both keenly familiar with symptoms suggesting a need for treatment outside our offices or in a higher level of care. These conclusions are arrived at through a careful process of assessment and discernment. Similarly, when parents come to us for recommendations as Therapeutic & Educational Consultants, they have usually already attempted many approaches offered in outpatient services, without results. Therefore, they know something needs to change. This is never an easy decision. However, parents are typically fearful for the safety of their children and family at large.
As reference points for feeling they are reaching a “breaking point,” as well as for those parents who are still questioning whether to enlist our services & consultation regarding out of home placement, please consider the following two points:
- Limits & Boundaries: As adults, we rely on our ability to follow the countless limits and boundaries in our daily lives. These markers not only serve as a tool for safety and security, but also as a way by which we can successfully navigate through life. Among these markers are legal, emotional, educational, and professional limits and boundaries. Initially, children learn these life skills early as parents strive to uphold them. When the child is young, this may appear as instructions not to touch the stove when it is on, going to bed at regular time each night, or learning about appropriate language and behavior when engaging with siblings or parents. As adolescents, children start to encounter increasing limits and boundaries which serve as cornerstones for them in their home and out in the world. Learning to navigate appropriate limits and boundaries are among the developmental milestones necessary for a student to move forward with their lives.
- Reciprocal Relationships: During adolescence it is imperative children learn to participate in reciprocal relationships. As parents, we are tasked to model reciprocal relationships by giving love, nurturance and respect, without the threat of aggression or violence. Similarly, children must also learn to reciprocate loving and respectful interactions with their parents.
When parents see their children’s ability to follow limits and boundaries deteriorate, or witness their inability to maintain reciprocal relationships, it is time to consider if and how these behaviors will change? When parents don’t have effective or meaningful answers, coming in for a consultation appointment may be necessary.