Adjusting to a new “normal” is what families must do when they have removed their troubled child from their home to a therapeutic program. While providing a respite from the behavior that lead to this decision, the anguish felt by parents can take an emotional toll.
An excellent read for parents of troubled kids is “The Parallel Process: Growing Alongside Your Adolescent or Young Adult Child in Treatment.” Author and family therapist, Kristy Pozatek, provides unique insights to all parents of pre-teen, adolescent and young adults on how to manage, in parallel, these potentially difficult teenage development years.
Days immediately after your child has left for treatment can seem like some of the saddest for any parent. It seems incomprehensible that the family could adjust to a new “normal”, and you are not even sure you want to. There is no advice to give as to what to expect.
Change inherently requires a period of adjustment. Transitioning to new routines and living with one less family member in the house is an adjustment. Your child in treatment is making adjustments too. Perhaps the path to acceptance will come a bit easier viewed through the lens that you are each transitioning and challenging yourselves outside of your comfort zones.
Treatment isn’t just about the child that has left the family home. A critical dynamic of having a child in treatment is about creating new ways for the family system to move forward together in healthier ways. Kristy Pozatek talks about the goal of “The Parallel Process” in her book by the same title. Pozatek states that the goal of the process is for “parents to regain their footing, learn and grow so they can meet their son or daughter with new awareness, insight, perspective and appreciation, in a new place.” The parallel process is about the work and growth that we as parents do simultaneously alongside our children. That “work” is therapeutic in nature, but it is also can be about adjusting and transitioning to the new environment presented, just as we are asking our child in treatment to do.
“The Parallel Process” is a highly recommended read for any parent with a child in any form of residential treatment, especially at the onset of the process. Pozatek draws on over ten years of experience in wilderness therapy, providing realistic examples that are relatable, encouraging the reader’s self-awareness and skill building.